Thursday, June 19, 2014

WNYC: No Public Record of Cuomo and Charters --Even Though He Had Central Appearance at Rally

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had a central appearance at a rally for charter schools at Albany this spring. Yet after a WNYC Freedom of Information request there was very little information in the public record about activity leading to the appearance.
Interesting, because the New York Times reported April 3 about the governor and the rally, "Cuomo Played Pivotal Role in Charter School Push." This governor has difficulty with transparency.

No Public Record of Cuomo and Charters

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

By Robert Lewis : Reporter, WNYC News

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office has no public records showing how he came to attend and speak at a massive charter school rally in early March.
WNYC asked the governor's office for records of all communication between the executive chamber and Families for Excellent Schools, the group that organized the rally, and with Success Academy Charter Schools, the charter company at the center of the movement's clash with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
More than three months later, the Cuomo administration says it has no public record of any communication between the governor's office and rally organizers before, during or after the event.
There is no record of an invitation to the event, no record of calls or emails to discuss logistics, no calendar entries showing meetings and only one short email exchange with Success Academy and mid-level administration staffers to circulate court papers not directly related to the rally.
In fact, the administration, which has received large campaign donations from the charter industry, says it has no public records of any communication with the rally organizers and virtually none with Success Academy since Cuomo took office in 2011.
. . .
Eva Moskowitz correspondence . . .

The Cuomo administration has been widely criticized for its lack of transparency.

Click here for the rest of the WNYC news article, and here for the on-demand podcast.

The Perdido Street School blog also reported this week, "Governor Cuomo Apologized To Hedge Fund Managers Via Video About Skipping Lake Placid Education Reform Conference." As that blog asked, "Who's Your Daddy?"

Post-script: Daily Kos announced the launching of a special blog by New York Communities for Change:

CuomoWatch: Cash and Carry Cuomo

Today we're launching CuomoWatch - NYCC's blog covering Andrew Cuomo's corporate-backed agenda which is wreaking havoc on public education, low wage workers, immigrants, and homeowners and tenants through the state. Unfortunately, we'll be posting frequently - The Governor is really hard at work!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cuomo Has Raised Millions Through Loophole He Pledged to Close

ProPublica has an important report that echoes many of the concerns on the Perdido Street School blog. Mainly, the report deals with the self-serving exploitation of fund-raising loopholes that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo engages in.

Cuomo Has Raised Millions Through Loophole He Pledged to Close

The governor has called for closing a gap in the state’s campaign finance laws,
but he’s taken far more through the loophole than his predecessors, much of it
from real estate developers.
by Theodoric Meyer
ProPublica, June 13, 2014
The consensus candidate of 2010
When he ran for office four years ago, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pledged to close a loophole in the state's campaign finance regulations allowing corporations and individuals to pour unlimited amounts of money into politics.
Instead, he's become the loophole's biggest beneficiary.
New York State forbids corporations from giving more than $5,000 a year to candidates and political committees. But limited liability companies—businesses that share attributes of corporations and partnerships—are allowed to give up to $60,800 to a statewide candidate per election cycle and up to $150,000 a year to candidates and committees overall. What's more, corporations and individuals can set up an unlimited number of LLCs through which to donate, making the caps effectively meaningless.
Cuomo took contributions from LLCs while running for governor in 2010, but said at the time that he was only accepting them so that he could get elected and change the law. He has twice proposed legislation that would eliminate the LLC exception, most recently in his budget proposal in January, but it hasn't been enacted. He told reporters Wednesdaythat there was little chance any campaign finance reforms would pass before the legislative session ends next week.
Cuomo has accepted more than $6.2 million from LLCs in the three and a half years since he took office, according to a ProPublica analysis of state campaign finance filings. That's more than double the amount his two predecessors, Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, took in during their combined four years in office. The contributions make up a sizeable chunk of the $33 million Cuomo has reported raising for his re-election campaign. (The data reflects contributions reported through mid-January, when candidates last filed disclosure reports.)
In a statement, Cuomo spokesman Matthew Wing offered this to explain the apparent contradiction: "The Cuomo campaign is following existing campaign finance laws, while the Governor is leading the charge to reform them, including closing the loophole for LLCs."
That's of little consolation to campaign finance watchdogs concerned that those who have—or are seeking to have—business with New York are continuing to use this wrinkle in the state's contribution rules to exert their influence. Much of the money coming to Cuomo through LLCs appears to be from real estate developers, with cable companies and liquor distributors among those also providing healthy cash infusions.
"This is a gaping hole," said Dick Dadey, the executive director of Citizens Union, a New York good-government group. Getting rid of it is "an easy fix that would turn the spigot down a bit of the flow of money from big contributors."
Follow this link  for the rest of Theodoric Mayer's story at ProPublica.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

California Court Vergara v. California teacher tenure decision's significance – missing history from a tragic historic moment

Cal Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu's decision in the Silicon Valley mogul David Welch engineered case, Vergara v. California (ruling here) is one more ominious siege against teachers in the reformers' national war on teachers. This bodes terribly for teachers. Privitizing operatives such as Michelle Rhee are sure to exploit this case for future campaigns.

Teachers are already under siege, with high stakes test score-based evaluations, with the Danielson Framework and other evaluation regimens, demeaning a once noble profession, with micro-managing that brings a whole new meaning to Frederick Winslow Taylor's legacy of scientific management.

This could only happen in a climate in which the leading teachers union federations, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have not spoken up against the central philosophy and assumptions of the neo-liberal or neo-conservative privatizers. Regarding the neo-liberals, note that Arne Duncan, Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama's Secretary of Education endorsed the judge's decision, enthusiastically so, as reported by the New York Times. California Democratic Congressman George Miller cheered the decision, as reported by the Washington Post. Instead, the top business union oriented teacher union leaders have only piece-meal spoken up, only too late, as in the present case.

Union leaders must cite the fundamental relationship between class and academic performance. In the face of an ongoing attack on teachers which exclusively cites the classroom teacher as the determinant of classroom performance, union leaders have been silent. They have failed to cite the literature that demonstrates a direct correlation of levels of parental income and student performance, as noted here. Growing numbers of commentators and researchers are recognizing the factor of family income as noted here.

The top union leaders have been aloof from the California case, treating it as a minor mosquito bite. They have failed to make the case to the public for why tenure is important, they have failed to, thoroughly in a pronounced public campaign, make the case that tenure is simply a means to ensure that there is due process in cases of teacher dismissal.

Silence on the history of tenure
Furthermore, the top union leaders have failed to cite the historical presidence for tenure. Indeed, the concept reaches as far back as 1158. And its modern form has its roots in early 1800s Harvard College.

No, the top teachers union leaders have not spoken up, because they have been insulated from the recent experience of working in the classroom, as the rank and file. They do not feel the insecurity and deskilling and deprofessionalization that teachers in contemporary America feel.  They, with their top two percent salaries in the mid 200,000s plus level, salaries exceeding those earned by U.S. cabinet secretaries, do not live the 98 percent experience.