Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DeBlasio Seeks Pre-K Help, Cuomo Pushes Millionaire Tax Cuts / Why Mulgrew-Iannuzzi NYSUT Battle Matters

*Cuomo pushes tax cut for wealthiest in New York State
*Why is Mulgrew pushing for Cuomo's reelection? *2013: the year of Mulgrew's repeated support for Common Core
That New York Governor Mario Cuomo is dissing new New York City Bill de Blasio already is not news. Straight away he has opposed tax increases for funding universal pre-Kindergarten. Yet, he is ignoring all of the research that has demonstrated the importance of it.
By the way, remember that the MORE caucus came out for universal full day high quality pre-Kindergarten from its beginnings in 2012. So, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is really Johnny-come-latelies to plug for it on the front page of its latest New York Teacher issue.

In his rebuffing deBlasio is Cuomo breaking from tradition?
As reported in the current issue of "The Chief",
When asked about the Governor's efforts to outmaneuvre him, Mr. de Blasio was polite but firm. "There is a very clear history. The last three mayors went to Albany" and got the tax changes they asked for, he said. "We expect to see continuity."
And yet, we can see cynical maneuvering in Cuomo's attempts to appeal to certain constituencies. He mentioned pre-K in his address to the state. But he did not mention de Blasio's specific proposal and its tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers.

Cuomo pushes tax cut for wealthiest in New York State
New York State is a state with huge disparity in wealth. The wealthy have been coasting along quite easily. Rather than support de Blasio's call for a tax increase on the wealthiest in New York City, Cuomo has done the opposite. "The Chief" reports in the January 17 edition:
*Reduce corporate income taxes to 6.5 percent, the lowest rate since 1968 . . . .
*Increase the threshold for the state inheritance tax from $1 million to $5.25 million, indexed for inflation, and reduce the rate from a maximum of 16 percent to 10 percent.
As Cuomo speaks, Mulgrew beams; Iannuzzi looks stoical

Amidst Mulgrew's support for toxic Cuomo: Critical news on Mulgrew's challenge to Iannuzzi
Yet, UFT president Michael Mulgrew is re-endorsing Gov. Cuomo and is mobilizing the UFT toward that end. Why?! we must ask. Cuomo is complicit on APPR and Common Core State Standards, central causes of woes of teachers across New York State. Cuomo handed full control of New York City's teacher evaluation program to NYSED commissioner John King, all with Mulgrew's enthusiastic endorsement. (This is part of a larger story about how Mulgrew's UFT forces are maneuvering with Andy "Who?" Pallotta as Mulgrew's figure-head for VP against NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi's slate. Read "Burgeoning NYSUT Civil War" at the PJSTA website and "Looming Battle: Mulgrew vs Iannuzzi For NYSUT Leadership - Split Over Cuomo Endorsement?" at Ed Notes. Pallotta, a Bronx staffer to run against Iannuzzi, now that's transparently Mulgrew's puppet.)
Gov. Cuomo is disingenuously standing on the sidelines amidst the statewide parents' and educators' plaintive plea to remove commissioner King. Cuomo is resisting mayor de Blasio's pre-K program. Cuomo's interest in education "reform" is transparent: he is utterly on the take from education profiteers, e.g., Democrats for Education Reform ($14,000) and Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy charter school chain (four donations from Success PAC to Cuomo in 2011-2012 for his reelection bid, and $400,000 from a cadre of wealthy supporters of the Success chain). Mulgrew's proxy, Pallotta of the Bronx, and Unity-UFT's VP in NYSUT hearts Cuomo so, that he spent $10,000 in NYSUT Committee on Political Education ("COPE") funds, without Iannuzzi's knowledge, on a table at Cuomo's birthday party celebration. See the excellent reporting here at EdNotes and here at Perdido Street School.
So, why is Mulgrew supporting Gov. Cuomo? His predictable "Cuomo is better than any Republican alternative." To this point, we must point out: Common Core didn't start under Pataki, APPR didn't start under Pataki, standing by an aloof, elitist, autocratic education commissioner didn't happen under Pataki. These backward developments in New York State began under Cuomo, with his endorsement.

Centerpiece graphic from NYSUT's website, in advance of its June 8, 2013 rally.
See my earlier post, "The Two New York Teacher Unions and the Significance of Mulgrew/UFT's Ignoring of NYSUT's 6/8 Rally," on how NYSUT's newspaper was touching on a lot of the electric issues for teachers. Meanwhile, all that the UFT would do last spring would be to offer workshops on how to better "align" with the Common Core.
In that post, I highlighted the telling differences between the UFT and NYSUT, as evinced from their respective newspapers.
NYSUT United UFT and New York Teacher
Common Core implicit, critical mention apologies to the CCSS, the message: just let us get it right next time
High-stakes tests tests causing near anguish weaker commentary
Group's stance as early as 2011, NYSUT challenged the new evaluation system in court endorse VAM/ test-based evaluations, then gripe over the results
RallyJune 8, dealing with wider range of issues, reaching to the wider community; major push; literature already released, latest issue of paper has stories emphasizing issues attending to in rally promo leafletssilence on June 8 rally, diversionary June 12 rally*, narrower, dealing with a contract-oriented focus; weaker promotion so far --watch for bland, top-heavy announcements
*It was valid to have a contract rally, but the timing was conveniently distracting from the June 8 NYSUT Albany rally.
"Which side are you on?" Education progress or deform is that essence of education politics today. Iannuzzi, while not perfect, is on the better side on many issues than Mulgrew or Karen Magee (Pres. figurehead on Unity-UFT's slate) and Mulgrew's puppet Pallotta. Iannuzzi spearheaded the massive Albany rally of thousands last June 8, at which (non-NYC) district chapter rank and filers were out in force with home-made signs telling of teachers chafing under paperwork. Iannuzzi more recently, is proposing a NYSUT vote of no confidence against commissioner King. The NYC contingent, the UFT, was next to impossible to find at that rally, and Mulgrew and "Randi" gave the lamest of speeches, weak on specifics and never frontally challenging the core destructive tenets of education "reform." With Mulgrew's non-commitment to mobilizing the UFT for the rally and not alerting the media, is it any wonder that all the media reports from the event were from Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, not the NYC area?

2013: the year of Mulgrew's repeated support for Common Core
Mulgrew is really out of touch on this one.
Apr. 28, in opinion piece in the Daily News supportive of the Common Core, Mulgrew wrote that teachers just needed a more "coherent, detailed curriculum."
Aug. 8, Mulgrew mistated the truth in a "Daily News" editorial, asserting that many teachers wrote the Common Core: "teachers — many of whom helped create the new Common Core . . . " The truth: None of the five authors of the English or Math sections are teachers. Only three teachers served on the validation committee for the Common Core. How is zero "many?"
Oct. 29, Capital New York: Mulgrew repeated his support for "the idea behind the Common Core" and said that withdrawing from the Common Core "would be a real disservice to our children."
Nov. 14, UFT site: "Mulgrew reinterated [sic!] the union's support of the Common Core."
Remember, any UFT assertions of teacher support need to be tempered with knowledge that the national parent federation, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has received over $5 million from Bill Gates, the sponsor and initiator of the national Common Core standards. Read one New York State principal, Tim Farley's astute analysis of the impact of Gates money on the AFT and teacher practices in implementing the Common Core. See also Mercedes Schneider's "Weingarten Wants Me to Want the Common Core State Standards." Scroll below for the key clincher quotes from principal Farley, regarding Gates' donations and "professional development" for the Common Core.

The bonus pay ruse for merit pay
You would think that there could be bonus combat pay for teachers working in the toughest schools. Alas, that's not what will happen. Actually, the reverse will happen. Cuomo's "bonus pay" plan is patently a merit pay plan sugar-coated for the masses. The problem this time is that with Mulgrew so compliant he'll willingly go along with whatever Andy proposes. What is refreshing is that even the media see through Cuomo to an extent and are calling his plan a merit pay plan. See the Chaz blog article on the issue to see an analysis that directly labels the plan as a merit plan. The major problem is that it is easily manipulated, with the principal assigning the toughest classes to their least favorite teachers and the easiest ones to their pets. Churn that through the value-added modeling ("VAM") sausage machine --that AFT president Randi Weingarten has finally gotten it right on-- and it will be easy to see that the class of 3s will do better than the class of 2s will do worse.

The teachers' referendum on John King
Again, teacher union members must ask Mulgrew and those outside NYC must ask their district leaders, will you join the Syracuse Teachers Association president Kevin Ahern in his supporting Iannuzzi's call for a vote of no confidence against NYSED commissioner John King?
NYSED Commissioner John King; Iannuzzi wants a recall; Cuomo and Mulgrew have yet to critique his style
View these videos, in Mineola, in Poughkeepsie -the short version, the long version, in Buffalo, in Whitesboro, just a sample, of choruses across New York State. Parents, teachers and students have no confidence in John King or the Common Core. Michael Mulgrew, you want to give the pretense of abiding by social justice, then do the right thing and oppose King. Teacher union members, pay close attention when Mulgrew fails to support Iannuzzi's move versus King.

"NYSUT responds to governor's State of the State address:"
ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 8, 2014 - New York State United Teachers today said Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2014 State of the State address presented a mixed bag for public schools, colleges and health care - offering a continuation of promising programmatic ideas but raising serious questions about resources.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the governor's proposal for prekindergarten is "encouraging," but expressed deep concern about the governor's package of proposed tax cuts and the significant omission in the governor's address of the need for a course correction in the implementation of the Common Core. Regarding the governor's proposal on merit pay, Iannuzzi said research shows such programs do not impact student achievement. 
"It is troubling that the most important issue facing students, parents and teachers today - the botched implementation of the Common Core and the need for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences for students and teachers - was absent in the speech," said Iannuzzi. "With all that is on our plate now in public education, to be distracted by a failed concept like merit pay would be a serious mistake."
The NYSUT president also questioned how the state would sustain investments in pre-K, professional development, technology, and in public colleges and universities when the economy is still in recovery and the governor wants to cut $2 billion in needed tax revenue.
"It is difficult to reconcile how the education programs will be paid for, not to mention sustained, when a horrific tax proposal is on the table," Iannuzzi said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the governor's education proposals present a "starting point," but the union will await details of the governor's forthcoming executive budget proposal later this month and fight to ensure that adequate funding is allocated for the state's public schools and higher education system.
"NYSUT has long been a strong proponent of universal pre-K and the union is pleased the governor considers it a priority. Now, the state must provide the resources necessary to make it a reality so all of our children are given a strong foundation for academic success," Pallotta said. "We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature to carve out a legislative agenda and budget that meets the needs of students, parents and teachers."
*Tim Farley's closing comments to his "AFT Is Wrong about the Common Core":
TRUTH: AFT polled 800 teachers. (I strongly recommend you read this: (http://www.aft.org/newspubs/press/2013/050313.cfm) to see all of the results that AFT left out. NEA’s poll surveyed 1200 teachers. Again, please read the full survey results to see what data was left out (http://neatoday.org/2013/09/12/nea-poll-majority-of-educators-support-the-common-core-state-standards/).

Part of the information from these two polls that AFT neglected to print was that teachers overwhelmingly support a moratorium on the student test results being tied to their effectiveness rating. The other piece that was left out was that most teachers felt that they did not receive enough “training” for the implementation of CC. The large sums of money from Gates to NEA, AFT, and NYSUT were earmarked for Teacher Professional Development. I have two questions. One, why are Teachers’ Unions receiving money to provide professional development? Isn’t that the job of the school districts? Also, since they have received so much money for this purpose, why don’t teachers feel that they haven’t had enough training?

Lastly, my question to AFT is, “Whom do you represent, Bill Gates or your teachers?” You cannot have it both ways.


Tim Farley

Kinderhook, NY
The AFT link reveals:
*74 percent are worried that the new assessments will begin—and students, teachers and schools will be held accountable for the results—before everyone involved understands the new standards and before instruction has been fully implemented with the standards.
*83 percent support a moratorium on consequences for students, teachers and schools until the standards and related assessments have been fully in use for one year.
*27 percent said their school district has provided them with all or most of the resources and tools they need to successfully teach the standards.
*78 percent of teachers in low-performing schools said they have been given just some, few or no resources. *53 percent said they have received either no training or inadequate training to help prepare them to teach to the standards.
Wow. Talk about Weingarten's selective reporting of statistics.

The NEA link reveals:
*65 percent have participated in a Common Core training session, but just 26 percent said the trainings were helpful.
. . .
*Educators also pinpointed other factors that would help students learn the new standards. Forty-three percent cited smaller class size, 39 percent suggested greater parental involvement, and 22 percent said students need up-to-date books and materials.