As Frank Sutliff, West Canada Valley principal and current president of the School Administrators Association of New York State, said: “In this state and across the country, we have been sold a bill of goods with Race to the Top. We are supposedly putting students first. Is the end of all professional development, including curriculum mapping and data analysis putting students first? Is cutting a guidance counselor as students’ academic and emotional needs increase putting students first? Is the cutting of numerous sports, clubs and activities putting students first? In my district, we could put students first by providing them with needed and desired courses ... however, the millions and millions of dollars for Expeditionary Learning and Common Core Inc. continue to flow unabated.”
The message our speakers and elected officials delivered was unanimous. This year, the wrong-headed debacle that has become the rollout of the new standards, accompanying tests and teacher evaluations is going to be stopped in their tracks. If the Board of Regents won’t do it, Seward promised, the Legislature will.
Gibson, Lopez and Crouch all urged us to keep the pressure on, so that sane policies will prevail once again. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo must know that this issue isn’t going to go away.
The makeup of the current Board has allowed Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Commissioner John King to blatantly ignore the voices of New York’s citizens. It has also allowed Cuomo to hide behind them and deny responsibility for their recklessly implemented reforms.
How can you help? One important step you can take is to contact our NYS Democratic Assembly members and encourage them to vote for candidates for the Board of Regents who have been endorsed by the advocacy group NYS Allies for Public Education. (www.nysape.org) In March, there will be four open seats. The Democratic majority will decide the composition of the new board. Four voices just might tip the current reform agenda back toward sanity.