What’s a Teacher Unionist to do?

Lower Hudson Valley educator/union leader on the validity of state provided growth scores & VAM. Great read.

Lakeland Federation of Teachers

By Michael Lillis
President, Lakeland Federation of Teachers and ST Caucus Hudson Valley Coordinator

What’s a teacher unionist to do?

It’s clear that nothing will be the same in education after last year’s budget vote that completely redefined teacher evaluation in New York, followed by a tidal wave of test refusals.  As a result of this budget, we are expected to negotiate “in good faith” to develop local teacher evaluation systems that are compliant with the law.

I have been president of the Lakeland Federation of Teachers for 13 years and I understand the benefits of good faith negotiations. We have used them to keep education moving forward in Lakeland, despite the fact that we still receive less state aid than we did in 2009.  Putting leaders together in a room to have good faith discussions of what is best for the students, teachers and taxpayers is a very effective…

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Tim Farley: How Much Testing Is Too Much?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Tim Farley, principal of an elementary/middle school in upstate New York and founding member of New York State Allies for Public Education, writes here that the new Obama testing policy might increase the time spent testing students.

Andrew Cuomo, governor of Néw York, was quick to applaud the Ibama plan and to note with pride that New York had already enacted a 2% cap on testing time.

Farley writes:

“In New York, as Cuomo has reminded us, we already have a 2% cap on time spent on standardized testing. What does that actually mean? In New York we have 180 school days and an average school day runs about 6.5 hours. If one does the math that’s 180 x 6.5 x 2% = 23.4 hours of testing. So, by law, we cannot exceed 23.4 hours of standardized testing in grades 3–8.

“This begs the question — How much time do kids in…

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Crocodile Tears

One Mom's Journey Through Education Reform

“At 6 p.m. on a Thursday night, I come home from a meeting, my phone rings, and it’s Merryl Tisch,” Ms. De Vito said. “She said, ‘I received your letter,’ and she said, ‘It made me want to cry.’”

This is quoted from this NY Times Article that describes the new regulation to allow SPED students to apply for a waiver if they have taken a Regents exam twice and failed it with a 52 to 54.  The student must have good attendance and a passing grade in the over all coursework.  It is a good first step in resolving the problems in current graduation requirements for special education students.  Keep in mind, these problems have been created by policies established by Chancellor Tisch.

This blog is a compilation of student letters that were written to Chancellor Tisch last fall.  Some did graduate, others have since dropped out of high school…

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Nysed and Elia have not fooled us with their survey.



And another act in Nysed’s circus show, designed to shut up the parents and teachers of this state, has begun. Enter an excessively long, poorly thought out survey, designed to skew results. When people give up completing this ridiculous survey, Elia will capitalize on that, using the opportunity to falsely justify her stance that everyone is happy about common core.

Anthony Salerno shares his comments and letter,

“So I started taking the survey earlier than planned. And then I wrote this letter to the author of the Newsday article.

‘As a parent who is extremely concerned about the atrocious state of education because of Common Core, I looked forward to taking the survey you wrote about in today’s Newsdsy. I even shared the information across a few groups on Facebook that I belong to.

And then reality set in. The survey is as convoluted as Common Core is, with respondents…

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Mitchell Chester, PARCC Consortium Chair, Turns His Back on PARCC

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester has been pushing for PARCC assessments in Massachusetts. Chester is the chair of the PARCC consortium. As a member of PARCC’s governing board, he was supposed to have his state signed on for PARCC assessments for 2015, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Massachusetts districts had a choice in 2015 between PARCC and the state’s longtime assessment, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).

mitchell chester  Mitchell Chester

So, even though the PARCC MOU noted that PARCC governing board members needed to have their states signed on for the PARCC assessment in 2015, Chester was allowed to slide for a year.

Meanwhile, the PARCC consortium has steadily been losing states. For 2016, PARCC was down to DC and seven states (Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island). (This 2016 PARCC state commitment is reflected in its dwindling governing board.)


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Money Talks

Real Learning CT

At first, I felt empathy for Bill and Melinda Gates as they spoke about the Common Core in an interview with Gwen Ifill on the PBS NewsHour. I always feel for people who are talking publicly about something about which they know very little. I then reminded myself that these two people who know so little are actually in charge, almost single-handedly, of American education. That is profoundly wrong. Children and adolescents are entitled to the best education their society can provide. And in a democracy, it is unconscionable for the wealthy few to decide what that education will be.

Please watch this 9:54 minute interview with Bill and Melinda Gates:

If you cannot see the video, please click this link

1. Bill Gates says the Common Core sets high standards, but the Common Core Standards are not high. The Common Core Standards are judged to be harmful and…

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PSA: Possible Breach/Exposure of Student Information Affecting Students in Ulster County Boces Region


BOCES, Onteora school officials angered by use of student names in training video

NEW PALTZ >> The use of student names by New Way Technologies in a training video for a data-sorting computer program has angered officials with Ulster BOCES and the Onteora school district.

The comments were made in the week since the video was posted and taken down from the company’s website. Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Charles Khoury said the video was produced using data given to New Way Technologies representative Art Ardolino, who did use names but did not include student information or statistics from tests.

“The names are not associated with the numbers,” Khoury said. “The names were scrambled from the data, so there was no relationship between the names and the data that appeared.”

However, Khoury is upset that the names of students from some of the districts in the Ulster BOCES service area were used.

“It was wrong,” he said. “Those names shouldn’t have been used. That wasn’t the purpose (for which) he had the data and he acknowledges that.”

Ulster BOCES had paid New Way Technologies $9,500 per year to develop a program that would make it easier for school districts to sort through test scores.

“I brought them in as a software consultant programmer back in 2013 … essentially to write programs to generate reports that had more graphics in them than the reports we were getting from the state,” Khoury said.

Concern over the training video, which New Way Technologies also used as a promotional tool, arose when Khoury recognized the name of Onteora school board member Ann McGillicuddy’s son.

“Through the superintendent I did write to the board … apologizing for the unfortunate release,” he said.

McGillicuddy did not return messages seeking comment but Onteora district Superintendent Victoria McLaren said the board was unhappy with student names being used by the company.

“We were obviously concerned that names of our students were shown on that training video,” she said. “We were pleased that the training video was taken down pretty quickly once we had questioned it and we were also relieved that the other data in that video that appeared was not real data related to any of the students’ names.”

McLaren said it was not clear how extensively the Onteora student names were used compared with other districts.

“The high school principal was able to recognize a couple of other names,” she said.

Information was not immediately available on whether other students names were used but the program has been used on a trial basis by the Rondout Valley school district. District Superintendent Rosario Agostaro on Tuesday said the video had been taken down before he could review the names of students.

“I have no access to it so I don’t know which kids were on it,” he said.

Khoury said use of the names did not violate privacy laws because there was no specific data associated with the students.

“It’s called directory information,” he said. “If it was connected to the data it would be significantly more of a problem, but directory information is subject to public release.”

Officials with New Way Technologies were not available Tuesday for comment Tuesday.


Also, see from July 2015:

Onteora school district has computer security problems, NY state auditors say

By William J. Kemble, news@freemanonline.com
BOICEVILLE >> A state comptroller’s report says there are security deficiencies in the Onteora school district’s computer systems that could allow data breaches.

The problems were discovered in audit of the computer systems that covered the period July 1, 2013, to Nov. 5, 2014, the report said.

“We found that the [school] board did not establish an adequate acceptable use policy, a computer security plan, a disaster recovery plan, policies and procedures for disposal of computer equipment or a policy for security awareness training,” the auditors wrote.

“In addition,” the report states, “the district’s service-level agreement with the [Ulster] BOCES for network support specialists did not include written terms defining the service-level objectives and performance indicators, roles and responsibilities, nonperformance impact, security procedures, reporting requirements and review/update and approval precess. The [agreement] also did not clearly identify who was responsible for various aspects of the district’s [technology] environment.”

The auditors also found the school district’s computer hardware, which includes about 400 tablet computers, was not accurate or up to date and that there was no listing of software licenses. They noted that 18 of 31 ites, “including tablets and wireless streaming devices,” were not registered in an inventory system.

A key concern voiced by the auditors was that district officials had not done enough to protect the computer systems from outside intruders.

“Although the district used a program to filter Web content, we identified sites that were not reviewed for actual content,” the auditors wrote. “We reviewed 35 sites visited in the ‘unknown’ category and found that 13 sites had content in blocked categories. As a result, users could access inappropriate websites and put the district’s network at risk.”

The auditors said the absence of filters left the district vulnerable to cyber criminals who could gain information about students.

“Hackers can later use this information to access networks, databases and even bank accounts, resulting in high risk of loss,” the auditors wrote. “Internet browsing increases the likelihood that users will be exposed to some form of malicious software that may compromise data confidentiality.”

District officials have not returned a reporter’s calls about the report, but in a written response to the state, they said they plan to make changes in policy and procedures.

“Upon receipt of our final report, we will work to develop a comprehensive action plan to address the issues you have identified,” they wrote. “We have already begun to correct some of the items discussed in the exit interview.”

Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY

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An incident has come to my attention that all  parents Ulster County BOCES region should be aware of. There has been possible breach/exposure of student information by New Wave Technologies, a vendor providing web based technologies to teachers for use in schools. The story is developing. Please see below for what we know right now.

It has come to light that Ulster County BOCES shared private student data with a for profit company NewWay Technologies to develop “new data visualization tools” that would allow teachers to analyze student test scores on iPhones, tablets, and computers.

National renowned student data privacy advocate Leonie Haimson discovered that New Way Technology was using the names and data of Ulster County students in it’s promotional videos which were taken down on September 29th. Numerous screenshots reveal the names of real students from districts throughout Ulster County. Each name is associated with an id number…

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October 10, 2013 NYSPTA Town Hall – Commissioner King’s Shut Up and Nod Tour Anniversary

Augmenting this flashback blog piece, NYSPTA Town Hall – Commissioner King’s Shut Up and Nod Tour circa 2013 with present day 2015’s
Hudson Valley Parents Strongly Object to Disgraced NYS Commissioner of Ed Appointment to Interim Secretary of Education Post


Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY


The event that started it all – In this clip from the October 10, 2013 Poughkeepsie Town Hall,  King gets an earful and is booed off the stage as he maintains that the private school his kids attends give the very same assessments as public school students and that the curriculum is “similar” to common core but not common core. 

Another great clip circa October 2013 from a similar forum- King fumbles the ball.

Happy spank-versary, Kingsie!

Today is the one year anniversary of the nefarious NYSPTA Town Hall incident where parents from Poughkeepse New York gave Commissioner King an earful. This event really changed the landscape for parents and teachers advocating against the flawed common core, HST and Regents reform agenda.

Billed as an opportunity for parents to ask questions and get answers from the Commissioner regarding common core, student privacy, InBloom and teacher evaluations among other things, the…

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Hudson Valley Parents Strongly Object to Appointment of Disgraced NYS Commissioner of Ed John King to Interim US Secretary of Education Post

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For more information contact:
Anna Shah (914) 475-8889

Hudson Valley Parents Strongly Object to Appointment of Disgraced NYS Commissioner of Ed John King to Interim US Secretary of Education Post

Washington officials announced today that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will step down from his post in December. While news of Duncan’s departure brings relief for Hudson Valley parents, it is juxtaposed by the disgust and outrage parents feel having learned  that the person chosen  to replace Duncan is none other than disgraced former New York State Commissioner of Education, John King.

“As New York Education Commissioner, John King was a tireless advocate for the Common Core, high-stakes testing, and the EngageNY modules. At the same time, he sent his own children to a private Montessori school that does none of these things. Our concern is that John King will continue to advocate…

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Cuomo’s Common Core Commission: Lipstick on a Pig


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Conceding that “evidence of failure is everywhere”, Governor Cuomo recently announced his fifteen member 2015 Common Core Commission convened to “review and reform” the common core.

Welcome to the 2015 season featuring Cuomo’s Triple C: Common Core Commission. This year’s reality TV episode of public education policy theater stars:

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