The next few months will be difficult ones as teachers in New York State. Our Governor and State Ed. Chancellor Tisch are waging a campaign to dramatically change the teacher evaluation system in NY as well as eliminate the cap on charter schools in the state. The later may not seem as threatening to the average classroom teacher, but expanding charter schools is a critical part of their plan to dismantle the public school system in the state, move to county wide school districts, and privatize our education system. I would not be surprised if the Governor and SED push for regional high schools, likely charters, that would start to siphon students and funds away from the public schools, including suburban districts like ours.
At the crux of their plan to identify more failing teachers is an amplification of the state growth scores in your APPR score. “Too many teachers are passing” is their argument. And last week, Cuomo once again attacked the Teacher Retirement System suggesting the State is in need of more pension “reform.”
The Governor heard back from NYSUT (I attended a protest at the Gov’s mansion on New Year’s Eve Day, yes that’s me leading the song on the audio clip) and he’s starting to hear thoughtful criticism from editorial boards around the state (see the Lower Hudson Journal News, and just today the New York Times had a biting editorial about the Gov’s political score settling (remember NYSUT voted to not endorse Cuomo in the latest election).
More important than any of the rhetoric you’ll hear in the next few months is the desperate need for your voice to be heard in both our region (through school board meetings, letters to the editor etc.) and in Albany (through direct action within our union and communicating with our elected representatives). Starting this week, I’ll be asking each one of you to take a few simple steps toward defending our profession and offering a true representation of the state of education in our schools. Please consider taking part in the conversation. A letter to the editor, an email to your State Senator or Assembly Member, becoming active on social media – all these steps can make a difference.
TAKE ACTION: For our solidarity action this week, I ask that you respond to Senator DeFrancisco’s legislative questionnaire online. Senator DeFrancisco is the chair of the State Finance Committee. His survey includes pointed questions about the use of the budget surplus, the Common Core, and the quality of our public schools. Please take a few moments to complete the questionnaire and share this link with your friends and colleagues on social media (FB and Twitter etc.).
Thanks for everything you do to make our school one of the best in the state. We’re proud of Westhill, and we’re proud of the WDEA.