Friday, May 29, 2015

Meet MaryEllen Elia -- Another Meryll Tisch Kindred Spirit in Albany, as new NYS Education Commissioner

Here we go again?

For the recent years in New York State we were subjected to John King, recipient of a speedy Ed.D. degree, along with Merryl Tisch, THE grand doyenne of high stakes tests and the Common Core. King gave the whiny face to the hard sell of the Common Core across New York State. The problem was that he was totally tone-deaf to the people's (students, parents, teachers) pain over the Common Core States Standards Initiative, particularly evident in the 2013 to 2014 academic year.

Now we get MaryEllen Elia from Florida, fired just months ago from Hillsborough, Florida district (which includes Tampa), in a 4-3 vote, as their schools superintendent. Chancellor Tisch dismissed the flap (To her credit she has more classroom and schools leadership experience than King had.)

[Update: Tampa Tribune, September 19, 2013, on how she got an F.]

Yet, she got a unanimous nod from the New York State Board of Regents, from the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor. As with NYC principals, you can fall on your face, and rise to the top. But for teachers? Once you slip, never forgiven.

The controversy with Elia? This piece today in the Diane Ravitch blog gives important clues, and her points of controversy put her very well in sync with NYSED chancellor Tisch (pro-high stakes tests, pro-Common Core, pro-test-based evaluations of teachers, pro-merit pay of teachers --see this profile by the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss):

Parent activists are wary of Elia because of her past support for high-stakes testing. To win their confidence, she must clarify her views about testing, about the Opt Out movement, about detaching test scores from teacher evaluations, about merit pay, and about Common Core.

And for the anxiety factor: the New York teachers unions are rumored to like her. But who exactly is that (UFT? also NYSUT?) and why do they like her? Ravitch says that Elia was in the rightist Gov. Rick Scott's transition team.

Tisch's puppet? Fall woman for Cuomo?

"I'm Your Puppet":