Wednesday, January 08, 2014


Did anyone really conclude Governor Andrew Cuomo was going to change his outlook on education because of parent protests over the Common Core and the new teacher and principal evaluation systems?  While Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver is thinking about slowing down implementation of Common Core Learning Standards, old reliable Governor Cuomo today proposed merit pay for teachers rated highly effective in our new evaluation system in his State of the State program.

No reasonable person believes the new evaluation system has any validity but the governor says we should encourage so called highly effective teachers to move to "struggling" schools by throwing money at them.  Here is the merit pay proposal in its entirety:

Reward the Most Effective Teachers  
Highly effective educators are critical to the success of our students. As described above, New York has become a national leader in promoting teacher effectiveness. This year, the State will build on the universal implementation of the teacher evaluation system by recognizing and rewarding our most effective teachers. State law specifies that teacher evaluations “shall be a significant factor for employment decisions including but not limited to, promotion, retention, tenure determination, termination, and supplemental compensation…” In fact, some school districts, including New York City, Rochester and Syracuse, are already piloting teacher incentives. In 2014, Governor Cuomo is proposing the creation of a Teacher Excellence Fund to help more school districts give meaning to these provisions and encourage excellent teachers to continue in the classrooms where they are needed the most.

Highly effective teachers will be eligible for up to $20,000 in annual supplemental compensation through the Teacher Excellence Fund. Eligibility for the Fund will require agreement of both the school district and teachers’ union. Districts will be chosen to participate based on factors that include whether the incentives are designed to encourage highly effective teachers to work in struggling schools.

Can you see this one getting into the UFT contract?  I can already picture UFT President Michael Mulgrew saying this isn't merit pay. I hope I'm totally wrong and the Union opposes this program.

As for the governor, all I can say is that if citizens truly want politicians to change their policies, we must threaten their jobs.  Otherwise, it's same old-same old and we will continue down the road of education deform.

Here is what the parents are saying:

More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123;
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
NYS Allies for Public Education
Governor Cuomo Continues to Avoid Addressing New Yorkers on Public Education
Parents, educators and community members are deeply disappointed by Governor Cuomo’s failure to address widespread concerns regarding the disastrous implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards, excessive high stakes testing and the collection and sharing of private student data. In recent weeks, Governor Cuomo has remained silent on these harmful reforms and today’s State of the State address confirms that the Governor has failed to fulfill his promise to “put students first.” NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) is dismayed that while he once called himself the “lobbyist for students,” Governor Cuomo has joined the ranks of those in power who have dismissed the voices of tens of thousands of informed parents working to protect their children, their schools and their communities.
One year ago, Governor Cuomo reminded us that, "the purpose of public education is to help children grow, not to grow the public education bureaucracy."  However, today the governor has confirmed his commitment to political ambition and corporate interests over the millions of students that he was elected to represent and protect. Lori Griffin, Copenhagen public school parent says, “When parents started to seek answers and ask for help, this Governor stayed in the shadows and ignored our pleas to examine the state of public education and the effects on New York’s children.”
Rather than delivering the honest leadership that NYS students and parents deserve, the Governor used his remarks to distract from what will go down in history as an abysmal track record on public education. "We don't appreciate his thinly veiled diversionary tactics by attempting to shift the attention to medical marijuana, instead of on these abusive and on erous reform initiatives. Cuomo needs to keep his promise that he is the students' lobbyist" stated Tim Farley, a parent and a principal of the Ichabod Crane School in Kinderhook, New York. Regarding Governor Cuomo’s refusal to address parent concerns, Eric Mihelbergel, a Buffalo public school parent and co-founder of NYSAPE says, “Governor Cuomo needs to either step up or step aside."
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters says, "Though the Governor has called himself the lobbyist for students, he has refused to take any position on the state sharing personal student data with inBloom and other vendors without parental consent. With 8 out of 9 states having pulled out of inBloom or put their data-sharing plans on hold, New York is now the worst state in the country when it comes to protecting children's privacy. Leaders of both parties in the Legislature have spoken out against inBloom, called for a moratorium and have bi-partisan legislation to protect parental rights and student data. It is deeply disappointing that in his speech today, the Governor again failed to show leadership on this critical issue.”
“It’s very telling that while Governor Cuomo not only supported and endorsed the State’s rushed adoption and implementation of these so-called reforms, he now seems to want to wash his hands of any responsibility for the botched initiatives. The fact is, it is well within the Governor’s power to slow down their implementation through legislative means” says Bianca Tanis, New Paltz public school parent and steering committee member of Re-Thinking Testing, Mid-Hudson Region.
New York State Allies for Public Education represents forty-five grassroots parent groups from every corner of the Empire State. The organizations are proud to stand with the parents, community members and fellow educators in NYSAPE to call for a change in direction and policy beginning with new leadership at the New York State Education Department.                                         


Anonymous said...

I have already heard from many sources that no principals are going to give out "Highly Effective" ratings to any teachers in their school. (Even the very best teachers will still only be rated "Effective") The reasoning for this is that principals will have nothing to do or say to "HIghly Effective Teachers" and thus will make the role of the principal meaningless. If anybody thinks there will be more than a few "Highly Effective" teachers come June, I have a round of beers ready for you. The DOE knows this, the principals know this, and Cuomo knows this. Lastly, who thinks that any "Highly Effective" teacher working in Riverdale is going to jump at the chance to work in The South Bronx for 20 grand? Maybe some young teacher looking to make a quick buck. Veteran teachers know that working in a sane, peaceful building is worth a lot more than 20 grand. (Not to mention not worrying about getting your car broken into, mugged, or assaulted by some thug)

Anonymous said...

There will be plenty of highly effectives and some people in their final years will take the money and run for the door when they can't make a difference because of factors that go beyond the control of the teacher.

Anonymous said...

If Newark is any indication, there are very few "Highly Effective" teachers. No, they are not running to teach in renew schools in rough neighborhoods. The chances of being "Highly Effective" in a renew school are slim. Principals hand pick students in their buddies' classes to further assist them.

Anonymous said...

Coming to a school near you: Cuomo merit pay.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew hinted at something like this. So why did Randi come out against VAM when she shoved it down the throats of Newark teachers??

Anonymous said...

How long until the sellout comes?

Anonymous said...

This Union will not cave in to a " Merit Pay" system. Maybe, a teacher ladder with a pay raise makes more sense. If there was a Merit system, no one would work in the difficult Districts. Cuomo knows that such a system would have a small payout, but he does not know how divisive this would be. Thank you, Dr. John Marvul.

Anonymous said...

If it walk, talks and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. Merit pay

Peter said...

Pedagogy is too nuanced and a teacher's skill set too expansive to rank educators from "worst to best", especially with any consistency from school year to school year. The UFT, in its agreement of the new evaluation frame, intends for teachers and administrators to reflect on the hard work we do through multiple objective components of best practices. Attaining "highly effective" merely reflects fulfillment of certain transparent criteria. It does not imply a higher monetary value of the teacher's skills. I do not believe the Union will support a proposal that these teachers receive merit pay for their accomplishments. Such an arrangement would contradict the work the UFT has already done to create a meaningful career ladder to advance the profession and improve schools. Teachers can already participate in the Lead Teacher program and various other study groups and consortiums to show leadership while earning a supplement to their salary. These programs require teachers to commit to extended hours and significant collaboration. Merit pay, in contrast, exposes teachers to conditions beyond their control such as the vagaries of the value-added model and the detrimental effects of school co-locations. The only extra compensation plan I can envision the UFT backing is one that creates enticing new opportunities; not one that rewards a lucky few while setting them up for failure.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like true Unity gobbly-gook from peter. Here we go again.