By John Metallo
When the going gets tough, the tough get going and the not-so-tough go home.
New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., was scheduled to conduct a number of community meeting forums throughout the state sponsored by the New York State Parent Teacher Association. He was to talk about, among other things, the Common Core curriculum and the standardized testing that goes along with it. This is the testing that resulted in roughly 70 percent of all students in New York State public schools being found to be below the proficiency level in English Language Arts and mathematics. The State Education Department is now scurrying around trying to index (read curve) the scores so they do not look that bad. This is especially important because the test scores are now directly tied to teacher evaluations, and the scores do not accurately reflect much about what teachers are doing.
At one of the community meetings held in Port Jefferson, King was taken on by angry parents and teachers. The result was that the New York State PTA canceled all of the future sessions. King did not have any cogent answers for those in attendance, in part, because there are none. The final straw was when he could not answer a question about his own children attending a private Montessori School. That fact, in and of itself, really raises a question. The man is the leader of all public education in New York State, however, he believes so little in the entity he is leading that his own children don’t attend the very public schools of which he is in charge? That speaks volumes.
It is time to end the charade. King and the Board of Regents are puppets for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. He is leading the charge for education reform in the state, and he is failing miserably. It is time to call it like it is. Cuomo’s teacher evaluation plan (which he has conveniently backed away from because it is in the middle of a crash and burn) and the Common Core fiasco have resulted in the waste of tens of millions of dollars that could be used to support the public schools in the state.
Instead, this money is being squandered on school improvement and reform plans that are not making one bit of difference for the students and teachers in our public schools. Simply put, Cuomo does not know how to evaluate teachers or principals any more than he knows how to evaluate doctors, dentists or airline pilots. He needs to step aside on this one and do it immediately.
Sometimes, one must admit defeat and move in another direction. In New York, we have passed that time and we are throwing good money after bad.
As we say in basketball, it is time to “man up” and admit failure, not run away and hide.
John Metallo of Slingerlands is a retired principal of Albany High School and adjunct instructor at the University at Albany and SUNY Plattsburgh.