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Utica, NY

Board of Ed Meeting August 25 6pm

Great idea. What time do you want to meet me there? What are we planning on changing?  (Aug 17, 2015 | post #2)

Utica, NY

Wboro School Taxes going Up AGAIN

There were only two school districts in the area that had no tax increases this year; Utica and Rome. If you want to live in the suburbs, you need to pay your dues.  (May 20, 2015 | post #3)

Utica, NY

state testing

I disagree. Truth's motives are pure but his vision is skewed. The teachers are the obvious and easiest target. There are many difficult choices that must be made if the end goal is to make all kids, "college and career ready". My first move would be to change the goal. Something along the line of, "all kids able to reach their full potential based on their wants and abilities". Not all kids want the same things. Let's encourage them to reach their full potential while being realistic about their abilities and desires. Not all kids can run a 7-minute mile. Does that mean we shouldn't encourage them to try. We should push them to do their best while understanding that some kids just don't have the ability, some just don't want to run and some kids will out-perform our expectations. But let's not hold the track coach accountable for the performance of all these kids.  (Apr 28, 2015 | post #91)

Utica, NY

state testing

Where we need to start educational reform, is in the schools were the problems exist. Most of our sub-urban schools are doing quite well. Our problems are in the inner-city schools and in some of the smaller rural districts. The first thing you’ll notice when you look at these areas is the state aid inequities. The problems that are found in urban districts are unique to those districts. There are no national curriculum changes or state tests that will solve these problems. Strategies that work in Clinton and New Hartford will not work in Utica and Rome. Programs that are successful in Westchester County are not going to work in Yonkers and Buffalo. Treating all school districts the same is not solving our problems. Smaller class sizes, stronger remedial classes, programs geared toward kids of poverty and English Language learners, more social workers and guidance counselors, programs to work with parents, more pre-school opportunities… When you dissect these schools and find out where the problems are, you’ll see that replacing a few teachers is not going to make much difference. It would be like putting new tires on a car that doesn’t run. You will also realize that these schools are not going to improve overnight. Their problems are long-term and systemic. If we go through with the governor’s agenda and find that 25% of the teachers in these inner-city schools are ineffective, who are we going to replace them with? Do you think good teachers are going to want to get jobs in these districts? Do you think young beginning teachers are going to take these jobs knowing that they will need four years of good evaluations before they can receive tenure, and if they are denied tenure their chances of getting employment in another district would be very slim? We need to find actual solutions for these problems. The governor has not made a commitment to improving schools. He has made a commitment to demonizing teachers and backing charter schools. A final note. One of the claims charter schools make is that they are not bound by many of the restraints that public schools are. They are free to set their own rules and standards. Free to set their own curriculum. Free to make decisions that they feel will benefit their kids. Free to determine which students they will teach and which students will have to go back to public schools. Free to tell parents what they expect if their kids are going to remain at their schools. At the same time that the governor is giving more freedom to charter schools, he is taking that freedom away from local public schools. He is telling public schools what and how classes will be taught. When and how tests will be given and how those scores will determine the futures of our teachers. Telling public schools that, not only do you have to teach every students that walks through your doors, you have to bring them up to a standard that he sets, regardless of their ability, aptitude, ambition, disability, language, home life, social status, etc….  (Apr 28, 2015 | post #88)

Utica, NY

state testing

That means that Cuomo wants to hold teachers accountable for the scores of their students on a test that he says are “meaningless”. Cuomo wants your kids to sit for nine hours and spend weeks preparing for a test that is “meaningless”. He wants all parents to know how important it is that all children take these tests, that are “meaningless”. He wants all parents to know that there are no provisions for you to opt-out your kids. These “meaningless” tests are mandatory for all children in grades 3 through 8. These “meaningless tests will be used to determine the fate of thousands of teachers and hundreds of schools. Millions of dollars of state and federal funds will be tied to these “meaningless” tests. It seems to me that Cuomo is putting a lot of value on tests that he himself deems, “meaningless”.  (Apr 27, 2015 | post #80)

Utica, NY

state testing

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday said parents who have chosen to have their children “opt out” of taking this month’s state exams don’t understand that the scores are “meaningless” in terms of students' grades. “That’s their option,” Cuomo, referring to parents who have participated in the unprecedented boycott of state exams, told reporters after an Association for a Better New York breakfast in Manhattan. “What I don’t think has been adequately communicated is, we passed a law that stops the use of the grades on the test for the student. So the grades are meaningless to the student.” “My position was, the department of education had not done a good job in introducing the Common Core, and they had rushed it, so we said, for a period of five years, the test scores won’t count,” Cuomo continued. “So they can opt out if they want to, but on the other hand, if the child takes the test as practice, then the score doesn't count anyway.” Cuomo and lawmakers initially intended to also shield teachers from consequences of students’ low scores on the Common Core-aligned tests. At the end of the 2014 legislative session, Cuomo introduced and the Legislature passed a “safety net” bill for educators who might be in danger of being fired because of the rough rollout to the higher standards. But Cuomo later vetoed it.  (Apr 27, 2015 | post #79)

Utica, NY

state testing

Have you read anything I posted or are you just illiterate or worse, stupid. I have said multiple times that there are bad teachers in our classrooms and that we need to find a way of getting rid of them. What I don't agree with is that basing 50% of their evaluations on faulty state tests. As far as tenure is concern, I don't think the governor went far enough. I think it takes at least five years to know if a teacher is capable of doing the job properly. Changing the requirement from three to four years was a move in the right direction but I think Cuomo should have held out for five.  (Apr 27, 2015 | post #78)

Utica, NY

state testing

Before you congratulate the Governor for taking the moral high-ground and standing up to the teacher’s unions, check to see who the governor IS taking cash from. The charter school backers and hedge fund managers who are highly invested in the charter school movement out-spent the teachers unions lobbying Albany politicians this year. The governor switched allegiances because there was more money to be made by the move. Those of you who think this has anything to do with Cuomo’s sudden interest in improving education need to see that this is really about Cuomo improving his chances to run for president in 2020.  (Apr 27, 2015 | post #76)

Utica, NY

state testing

Then let's change the system. Let's make it easier to fire bad teachers. School administrators and other teachers know who the bad ones are. Let's find a way to get rid of them. But let's make it fair and equitable. Unless you can come up with a system that takes into account all the other factors that can affect a student's test scores, it isn't fair to use them as the deciding factor in a teacher's evaluation. Let's be honest here, the reason he is going after the teachers is because they are an easy target. The governor knows that this will not solve the problem but it is the easiest and cheapest thing he can do. The first step in any war is demonizing the enemy.  (Apr 24, 2015 | post #68)

Utica, NY

state testing

That is a very misleading question. Very few teachers are ever fired. The process of firing a teacher starts with something called a 3020a. Charges are brought against the teacher and hearings are scheduled. Usually, when a teacher knows that things are going against them they offer to resign. Sometimes a district will offer the teacher a chance to resign before being fired. Many teachers will resign even before the 3020a is started so it doesn’t appear on their employment record. Since no school district will hire a teacher that was fired after a 3020a process, by resigning prior to being fired these teachers can apply to work in another district or another state.  (Apr 24, 2015 | post #61)

Utica, NY

state testing

The teachers did agree to being evaluated based on the test scores. Their current evaluation is based 20% on test scores. This was agreed to by the unions last year. The problem started when 98% of teachers were found to be effective or highly effective. The governor decided that didn't fit his agenda of demonizing teachers and privatizing schools. He then decided that he would unilaterally force the teachers to agree to 50% of their evaluations to be based on test scores. To say that teachers haven't given an inch is wrong. They gave the inch and now the governor wants more. The teachers unions are going to be force to accept this or school districts will lose out on millions in state aid. If this happened in the private sector, it would be called extortion. If the teachers stand tough, the kids will suffer. The unions decided that their only solution was to fight the tests. Fortunately, there are enough parents who see through the governors smoke-screen and realize that what he is trying to accomplish is not in their best interest. They see that these short-term answers are going to cause long-term problems. I'll ask you a few questions now. If linking teacher evaluations to students tests scores is the answer to solving our education problems, why is New York State the only state to do this? Are we the only state with bad teachers? Are we the only state with teacher's unions? If we are educationally losing ground to other states, are these other states evaluating teachers based on common core test scores? If not, why don't we find out what they are doing to improve education? And the biggest question of all; after we fire 10% of our teachers, most of them in urban districts, and things don't get better, then what? Do you really think poor, inner-city kids are going to suddenly start succeeding in school because of a few new teachers?  (Apr 23, 2015 | post #53)

Utica, NY

state testing

Truth, I'm going to comment of just two of your statements. 1) You quoted a pro common core website that stated teachers were involved in drafting the standards. How many teachers? If 200 people were involved and 2 of them were teachers, the statement would be still be accurate but highly misleading. Both of us might be correct, but only one of us is being honest. 2) I agree that we need to remove bad teachers from our classrooms. What I don't agree with is using these tests to determine who the bad teachers are. Talk to any teacher or administrator in any school in the state. They know who the bad teachers are. The problem is that administrators are not doing their job of honestly evaluating these teachers. As to the unions, they need to stop protecting teachers who they know don't belong in a classroom. Let's find a way of reaching our goals that will get the job done right. Evaluations based on student testing is not the right way. It is common practice in many school buildings to put the most difficult students with the most effective teachers. Is it fair to then evaluate these teachers by their students test scores? Education experts have developed the "Common Core" it would be nice if they could now develop some common sense.  (Apr 22, 2015 | post #44)

Utica, NY

state testing

I want to thank you for the civil manner of your response. To say that well informed parents are being duped by the unions is unfair and insulting. Although the opt-out movement has gained a lot of traction this year, it started before the teachers unions got involved. One of the main reasons it has increased is because parents were being ignored and told that they were too ignorant to know what was best for their kids. It started because of the Common Core roll-out that was forced on students without giving parents an opportunity to give input. The education “experts” who were behind the Common Core Curriculum and the high stakes testing were not teachers. They were education academics and corporate education consultants. Very few of them had any experience in public schools, had ever worked in urban districts, had experience in elementary schools and most of those who had teaching experience got that experience teaching college education classes. You should really do a little research on the process used to develop the Common Core and the tests involved. If the goals of these test are, in your words, “assess the current state of public education”, why are they being sold as tools to help children learn where their strengths and weaknesses are and target instruction for the students. If the goal is to improve education quality, wouldn’t it be more advantageous to include all stakeholders; administrators, teachers, parents, etc… Do you really believe that demonizing teachers is a good strategy? If the real goal is improving education overall, wouldn’t we be looking at the root causes of education problems in the urban and rural areas. Does it really make sense to conclude that the only difference between inner-city districts and wealthy sub-urban districts is the quality of the teachers? Are you saying that better teachers would negate the effects of poverty, violence, drugs, gangs, absentee parents, English language difficulties, learning disabilities, etc… If you can show me where these test are going to influence education in poor school districts by “assessing the current state of public education”, I’ll support your cause. If you think the problems are deeper and more complex than this testing can cure, come join me and urge the state to find real solutions to the education problem.  (Apr 22, 2015 | post #38)

Utica, NY

state testing

Where are you getting your information? Teachers have always been evaluated. Now 20% of their evaluations are based on their students test scores. This was purposed and implemented last year by Cuomo and accepted by the teachers unions. Cuomo was convinced that at least 10% of the teachers in the state would be found ineffective by these evaluations. They weren't. Now he wants to increase it to 50%. Studies have already indicated that this would only slightly change the number of teachers found ineffective, from 2% to about 5.5%. Cuomo would still not have the numbers he is looking for. That is because the problems with failing schools is not bad teachers, but poverty. A schools test scores can be predicted solely on the basis of the number of students receiving free or reduced price lunches to and accuracy of about 85% for their ELA scores and 90% for their math scores. This has nothing to do with good or bad teachers. I also have a problem with you thinking that the reason parents are opting out of these tests is mainly due to teachers unions. Polls have suggested that teacher evaluations is only one of many reasons parents are opting out. The Common Core curriculum and roll-out, the age inappropriateness of the tests, difficulty of the tests, the over-emphasis on testing, the privatization of education and Cuomo's dictatorial stance on education issues are also shown as strong reasons for opting-out.  (Apr 20, 2015 | post #27)

Utica, NY

state testing

If you think these tests are a fair way to evaluate teachers, take one of the tests. I’ll make it easy for you, take a fourth grade test. I’m being a little facetious here because the tests are not available for you to look at. You can’t even look at last year’s tests. The testing companies have shared some sample questions that are similar to question that might be asked on the tests but are not actual test questions (did you follow that). You will just have to trust the testing companies and the government that these tests are fair and valid for the students. And if you did get a chance to take one, what score would you need to pass them? That’s another trick question because the “cut” scores are not determined until after the tests are graded and evaluated. Maybe you will need to answer 90% to pass, maybe 40%, nobody really knows and if they do know, they won’t tell you. Nobody knows because the tests and the scores are not shared with the schools or the parents. They will tell you how you child performed based on their evaluation, but not how those evaluations were arrived at. When teachers do finally get information about the tests, it is after the kids have moved to the next grade level. These teachers can then adjust their teaching strategies and hope that next year‘s tests are similar to last year’s tests. However, it’s too late to help the kids who have already taken the tests and moved on. But it’s not too late to hold teachers accountable, jeopardize their careers and futures and use them as scapegoats for a failed education policy. It's ’also not too late for Cuomo to reward his campaign financers with a few more charter schools funded with your tax money. And the final thing to remember, teachers in charter schools are not evaluated on their students test scores. In fact, they aren’t evaluated at all.  (Apr 17, 2015 | post #14)

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