Monday, July 20, 2015


We knew the choice of ousted Hillsborough, Florida school Superintendent Mary Ann Elia for New York State Education Commissioner was not going to sit well with many educators and parents.  Less than a month into her new job, she has proven the critics were right.  She looks like just a different version of former Commissioner John King.

As reported on the B-LoEdScene blog via the Buffalo News, Elia told the media she is going on a listening tour.  While in Buffalo, she was pushing the same old blame the teacher garbage as her predecessor.

Here is what she told the school board: "It's important for you to understand there will be consequences if you can't move those schools forward," she said.

Improve or else.  This is Elia's grand new strategy.  The whole false premise that schools fail because of lousy educators is moving ahead full steam at the state level.

The list of schools going into what is now euphemistically called "receivership" was released by Elia's State Ed Department last week. Schools are now termed "struggling" or persistently struggling."  Who invents these terms?  One of their solutions for struggling schools is to replace the teachers as if bad teaching had much to do with lack of student achievement.

The best quote in response to Elia comes from Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore:

That someone's going to come in here and wave a magic wand, and all of these kids who have severe problems will start doing well, that's just not going to happen."

Rumore is no hero to me as he was one of the supporters of the NYSUT coup d'etat last year that gave us Revive NYSUT who have revived nothing but enhanced their own pensions.  In this case, however, Rumore has nailed it. His comment goes right along with something our friend Harris Lirtzman said the other day at Perdido Street school:

...where are all the magical teachers going to come from to staff these schools when their current roster get dumped in the ATR in New York City and straight fired everywhere else?  Will the State give the "receivers" special wands and hocus-pocus powers to make magical teachers appear from thin air? What "master" teacher anywhere would transfer to any of these schools when the State accountability system will turn a "master" teacher into a "developing" teacher in one year?

For those who have not been following, this is what the state said in their press release concerning struggling schools.

Struggling Schools are defined as schools that have been identified since 2012-13 as Priority Schools (i.e., among the lowest performing five percent of schools in the state).  Priority Schools that have been in the most severe accountability status since the 2006-07 school year have been identified as Persistently Struggling Schools.

Under the receivership law, a school receiver is granted new authority to, among other things, develop a school intervention plan; convert schools to community schools providing wrap-around services; expand the school day or school year; and remove staff and/or require staff to reapply for their jobs in collaboration with a staffing committee.

In the 20 schools identified as Persistently Struggling, the superintendent first serves as the receiver and is given an initial one-year period to use the enhanced authority of a receiver to make demonstrable improvement on annual goals established by the Commissioner, including student performance.  Absent demonstrable improvement, the Commissioner will direct the school board to appoint an independent receiver within 60 days.  The Commissioner will work closely with the school board to ensure that the most qualified individual is identified and the appointment of all independent receivers must be approved by the Commissioner.  Additionally, the school will be eligible for a portion of $75 million in state aid to support and implement its turnaround efforts over a two-year period. 

We are all fully aware this was going to be awful after the State Legislature allowed receivership into state education law. We didn't know how bad it would get.  

All I can say here is every time we say it can't get much worse in education, it does.

My question is what are the unions going to do in response to the receivorship nonsense?  The answer to that in all probability unfortunately is not much.  It's up to the rank and file to move them in the right direction.

To see if your school is on the list, just scroll down to the bottom of the NYSED link.


Anonymous said...

The union will do nothing. This nonsense has been going on in Newark for years.

NYC Educator said...

Jeez, give them a break James. Have you got any idea how tough it is to find tone-deaf people in such a media-rich environment?

Anonymous said...

Thank God that at least the teachers in NYC will still have a "job" as an ATR. That beats loosing your job if you are teaching in a district elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Where oh where is NYSUT oh where oh where can they be?

Unknown said...

I am looking forward to seeing how these edu magicians transform the communities of these "failing schools/" I'm looking forward to see how they end street crime, drug and alcohol addiction, a lack of adult role models,domestic violence, rampant unemployment and a hopeless worldview. In short, they are going to undo all of the damage our kids have already suffered before they set foot in a "failing school." Should be interesting. Too bad teachers haven't been able to overcome all of this. Isn't there an ed reform proverb we can use here?

James Eterno said...

Happy to have Sean Crowley comment here at ICE. I really enjoy your blog Sean.

Anonymous said...

It is all about the children.

Unknown said...

Likewise, Perdido St brought us together the other day.