A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Opt-Out Alive and Well in New York

It looks like it will be another good year for the rebellion against the testocracy in New York. The first part of the ELA Exam administered this week was skipped by over 50 percent of Long Island students. Long Island has been the epicenter of the Opt-Out Movement in our state. It’s encouraging to see the continuing commitment of parents to demand that their children not be subjected to test driven education. We can expect to see even higher the opt-out rates on the soon to be given math exams.

With Governor Cuomo up for re-election and challenged in his own party by Cynthia Nixon, NYSUT, our state teacher union, appears to be exerting maximum pressure on the Governor to change the law linking state test results to teacher evaluation. While Cuomo has been lining up union support throughout the state, he hasn’t yet gotten NYSUT’s which he is known to crave. Remember, it was Cuomo who in a different political environment gave us test based teacher evaluations in the first place. Challenged now from his left and with an eye on the 2020 presidential race, the endorsement of the state’s largest union has a luster to Cuomo that it didn’t have before, suggesting that the time is right for a deal ending test based teacher accountability once and for all. While most union members will not be thrilled with an endorsement of Cuomo, most will recognize their self-interest in making the deal.

posted by Morty in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Don’t Waste Energy and Resources

Progressives need to focus on winning and not on ideological purity. Campaigns like Cynthia Nixon’s challenge to Andrew Cuomo may activate the ideological purity receptors of some on the left, but in the end they lead to a waste of resources and, more importantly, bad feelings and low voter participation rates.

To be clear, I deeply dislike Andrew Cuomo, but as the incumbent governor with a huge campaign fund, he is more than likely to win. For all his faults, is he better than any republican being considered to run against him? Nixon is but one day into her campaign, and she is already asking whether Cuomo is a real Democrat. That’s the kind of question that got us President Trump. It’s the kind of infantile politics that has many Democrat congressional candidates running against Nancy Pelosi, a seasoned, successful, progressive legislator whose power and success curiously stirs opposition to her from members of her own party.

Our country’s institutions are challenged each day by a president and republic controlled congress that is hell-bent on erasing the New Deal from our history. At such a time we need to rally around Democrats of every stripe if we are to save this country as a fit place for working people to live and thrive. We can’t afford to waste energy and resources fighting among ourselves

posted by Morty in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Andrew Cuomo’s Party Is Not Mine

The more I think about Governor Cuomo’s war on teachers and their union, the more my thoughts turn towards what has happened to the Democratic Party when its governor of the Empire State decides to take on the state largest labor union. The experience of recent years causes me to worry that he will get much of his program to eviscerate NYSUT and the teachers we represent. I’m finding it hard to imagine an Assembly absent Sheldon Silver as Speaker withstanding the pressure Cuomo is exerting, up to and including promising them no pay increase if they don’t work with him. I hope I’m wrong, but increasingly the Democratic Party does not represent my views or the views or the needs of working people. Today’s Democrats are nowhere near as progressive as the New York Republicans of my youth. Senator Jacob Javitts, one of New York’s senators in my youth, would be seen as a flaming liberal today, so liberal that he would probably have a hard time getting the nomination of the Democratic Party. Nelson Rockefeller, the builder of the State University of New York from a collection of mediocre state colleges to a major state university system, would also be seen as a big spending liberal today.

We need a party in which progressives can organize to put our state and nation back on a footing that once had our country as the envy of the world, a country that cares about its children and does not tolerate a quarter of them living in poverty, sees protecting the environment as an economically sound thing to do, values labor unions as great equalizers of economic and political power, taxes itself equitably to provide the best schools, roads, bridges, transportation network, medical care and other economic and social essentials to a decent society – a party that works to strengthen the bonds that bind us and that values our duties to each other over our rights to self-absorption. Yea, I’ve been thinking Green more and more. If Andrew Cuomo is a Democrat, I’m no longer sure there is room for me in his party.

posted by Morty in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Education – Cuomo’s Vulnerability

If New York Republicans had any sense, they would find a gubernatorial candidate, a tad to the left of Chris Christie, probably a woman, to run against Andrew Cuomo focusing on Cuomo’s militant support for the corporate school reforms plaguing our schools. They need someone who can span the gender gap that favors Democrats. What better way to do that than to speaks to mothers’ fears of what high stakes testing and the Common Core Standards are doing to the state’s children? At a rally in Mineola called by Long Island Opt-out as a counter to Commissioner King’s by invitation only forum, I listened to parents and teachers talk from their hearts about the effects of these so-called reforms on children. I was especially touch by a mother of a middle-schooler whose child had always been at the top of her class talk about the psychological impact failing last year’s state assessment and being put in a remedial class. Tears rolling down her face, this mother described a child who once saw school as a stimulating, hospitable place that she longed to go to but who now dreads that same place that now is associated in her mind with failure and shame. That mother, and we are learning there are countless others like her, would work her ass off for a candidate who promised to protect her child from the heartless lunacy that is ultimately Cuomo’s education policy. Is there such a Republican, however? Cuomo is clearly vulnerable on education. Will someone emerge to exploit his weakness?

posted by Morty in Uncategorized and have No Comments