Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/common-core-task-force 2017-10-20T08:39:20+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com New York's Education Policy in Historic Disarray 2016-01-19T23:48:10+00:00 2016-01-19T23:48:10+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6101:new-yorks-education-policy-in-historic-disarray Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/17789177735_a743dd008d_z.jpg" alt="cuomo parental choice BK May 2015" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo in May, 2015 (photo:&nbsp;Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)</span></p> <hr /> <p>The past several months have been one of the most tumultuous periods in New York State's educational history, culminating several years of false starts and disarray in education policy. It's not without precedent, though, and history has valuable lessons for New York today.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Disillusionment and disavowal of recent educational practices</strong><br />In December, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, replacing the 15-year old No Child Left Behind Act and sweeping away its emphasis on standardized tests and punitive approach to failing schools. The new law returns power to the states and dilutes the federal government's power to impose educational standards. That will loosen the hold of federal requirements on New York's educational policy.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also in December, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced and endorsed the report of his "Common Core Task Force," which had been charged with evaluating the rollout of Common Core educational standards, which the federal government had supported. The task force recommended adopting new, locally-driven New York State standards and, as the governor noted, "greatly reducing testing and testing anxiety for our students. The Common Core was supposed to ensure all of our children had the education they needed to be college and career-ready – but it actually caused confusion and anxiety. That ends now."</p> <p dir="ltr">At the same time, the Board of Regents approved a four-year moratorium on using student scores on state standardized tests as part of the teacher evaluation system, something teachers had protested (local tests will still be used, though). The Regents' suspension of the policy is in line with another recommendation of the governor's Common Core task force. The governor had also endorsed use of student test scores in teacher evaluation, a position he has also now abandoned.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Regents adopted the Common Core some years ago and required its use in the schools without providing the necessary implementation materials or training for teachers, and mandated exams on material that had not been fully covered in the classroom. Teachers protested that the process was too rushed and opposed using the test scores in their own job evaluations. Thousands of parents joined an "opt out" movement by refusing to let their children take the exams. The embattled state commissioner of education, John King, &nbsp;who oversaw the rushed rollout, left for a post in Washington, D.C. His successor, MaryEllen Elia, has promised a more thoughtful and responsive approach.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York's per-pupil spending is among the highest in the nation but there are constant reports and press stories that our graduates are not adequately prepared for the workforce or college.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the meantime, over the past several years New York has established a second network of publically-funded schools called charter schools, paralleling and often competing with its traditional public schools, with mixed results.</p> <p dir="ltr">After years of disarray, we are (or should be) at a turning point. It is time for a fresh look at education policy in New York. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Gov. Cuomo, in his State of the State address on Jan. 13, proposed changes, but relatively limited ones. Referring to criticism in his common core task force's report of "common core curriculum implementation mistakes and testing regimen," he said that "we urge the state education department to do it right this time." He supports increased school aid, expansion of charter schools, and more support for "failing" high-needs schools, including through the community schools program.</p> <p dir="ltr">Those are significant, but they are modest; mostly more funding and a do-over of the common core rollout, well short of new departures.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Historic turning points in New York educational policy</strong><br />This could be a time of opportunity for major changes to strengthen education in New York. But that would require bold, imaginative leadership.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the years, history suggests, New York periodically worries about, analyzes, and occasionally takes dramatic initiatives to strengthen its educational system or move off in substantially new directions.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em> A few examples:</em></p> <p dir="ltr">*New York commits to public education. In 1812, after earlier plans to stimulate the establishment of public schools (or "common schools" as they were called then) had failed, the legislature passed the Common School Act of 1812. It created a state superintendent of public schools, outlined a process for creation and operation of local school districts, provided that the voters in each district would elect trustees to operate the schools, established a system of local revenue raised by towns and counties matched by state aid to support the schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">The act established three precedents: public schools are a function of the state; they are to be locally administered with state oversight; and funding is a joint state-local responsibility. Article XI of the current state constitution reflects the state commitment established back in 1812: "The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools, wherein all the children of the state may be educated."</p> <p dir="ltr">*A governor initiates consolidation and streamlining of state educational policy. New York entered the 20th century with responsibility for educational policy scattered between the state Department of Public Instruction (successor to the Superintendent of Public Schools established in 1812) and the Board of Regents, established years earlier mainly to oversee higher education. Governor Theodore Roosevelt (1899-1901), a Republican, appointed a study commission which recommended consolidation of educational oversight in a new State Education Department under the Regents. "The plan proposed is simple, effective and wholly free from political or partisan considerations," Roosevelt said, optimistically, in a message to the legislature in&nbsp;1900.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, partisan bickering and procrastination stalled action until 1904 when, during the tenure of Roosevelt’s successor, Republican Governor Benjamin B. Odell, Republicans in the legislative majority drew up a bill to implement the recommendation.</p> <p dir="ltr">But Democrats denounced the bill, in part because Republicans had proposed it. Democratic Assembly Minority Leader George Palmer called it "the most vicious...partisan legislation offered before this body in the last decade." The bill passed by a strictly party vote, except for one Democratic assemblymember who broke ranks to vote for&nbsp;it. But it launched New York onto a new educational path.</p> <p dir="ltr">*A Commissioner of Education charts a new course for education. New York's first Commissioner of Education, Andrew S. Draper (1904-1913), took charge of educational policy. "The public school system has come to be the main hope of our nation," he wrote in his book, American Education, in 1909. "In this American system of schools the predominant characteristics of our future American citizenship are being, and must continue to be, developed." Schools should be expected "to give every child not only the means of informing himself and of expressing himself, but also a definite trade or vocation through which he may earn a living."</p> <p dir="ltr">Like most effective commissioners since then, he recommended policy actions to the Regents, worked for their approval, and then vigorously implemented them, rather than waiting for the Regents to tell him what to do.</p> <p dir="ltr">Draper raised standards, adjusted the curriculum to ensure students received instruction that would make them job-ready and also effective citizens, clarified and strengthened the roles of local principals and superintendents, and pushed for school consolidation. He supported stronger teacher training and established a statewide teacher retirement system. Draper's initiatives strengthened and elevated &nbsp;education.</p> <p dir="ltr">*A governor dramatically increases state aid for education. State aid to schools was meager in the early 20th century. Governor Alfred E. Smith (1919-1921, 1923-1929), a Democrat, championed public education and pushed for more school funding. When the Republican-controlled legislature balked, Smith appointed a Commission on School Finance and Administration headed by a prominent civic leader and businessman, Michael Friedsam, president of &nbsp;B. Altman &amp; Company department store in New York City, which recommended a substantial increase in state funding in 1926.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Friedsam report resulted in a good deal of public support for substantially increased aid to education. But the fiscally tight-fisted legislature refused to act on the report. Smith made education aid a priority in his successful 1926 re-election campaign, denouncing his political opponents' "cheap political tricks" and "underhanded&nbsp;propaganda." The 1927 legislature raised funding to $82,500,000, a significant increase. But in a political swipe at the governor, legislative leaders announced that this was $2 million less than Smith's request, an indication, they insisted, of the legislature's fiscal&nbsp;frugality.</p> <p dir="ltr">*The Regents revamp education policy. By the early 1930s, educators were complaining that curricular requirements were outdated, employers asserted that public education was not adequately preparing students for jobs in business and industry, and many taxpayers thought that education had become too costly.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Regents responded by launching a searching analysis, The Regents Inquiry into the Character and Cost of Public Education, in 1935-1938. When the legislature showed reluctance to fund the study, the Regents secured support for it from the Rockefeller Foundation. The study was headed by highly respected Regent Owen D. Young, who was also chief executive officer of General Electric. It was carried out by recognized experts in education and public policy. The inquiry issued a summary report and ten supplemental reports on specific topics.</p> <p dir="ltr">Youths leaving high school "are not adequately educated...not prepared to play a helpful part in the life of this state," the report&nbsp;said. The school curriculum "has not been designed to fit them for the new and changing work opportunities which they must face in modern economic life." The report recommended more technical and vocational training to impart "immediately marketable skills" and "character education," training in civics and citizenship, and many other curricular&nbsp;changes.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Education Department should relax its regulatory oversight over the schools, allow greater local school board autonomy, and concentrate on identifying and disseminating modern educational practices to the schools, it said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The report also recommended stronger teacher training programs, higher salaries and expanded tenure protection to attract more and better&nbsp;teachers.</p> <p dir="ltr">The report was a wellspring for substantial changes in education policy, practices, and curriculum over the next&nbsp;decade.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>This could be another historic turning point for education in New York State</strong><br />The past few years of education policy disarray, and the historical examples outlined above and others that might be cited, suggest five insights for shaping New York's future educational plans.</p> <p dir="ltr">One, leadership is critical, and it can come from the Governor, Regents, Commissioner of Education, or key legislators.</p> <p dir="ltr">Two, for many years New York's educational system was regarded as among the best in the nation. Regents exams and degrees were something approaching a gold standard in education. Those were years before substantial federal involvement in education, before externally-created standards such as common core, and before a continual barrage of proposed educational reforms from outside think tanks such as the Gates Foundation. New York leaders acted on New York reports on the state's needs and opportunities. This might argue for returning to a system of more reliance on New York's own educational experts and less on outsiders.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three, a carefully-compiled, visionary, thoughtful analytical report, describing current conditions, setting forth a vision, and outlining a preferred course of action, can inform and streamline the process of reaching a consensus and taking action.</p> <p dir="ltr">Four, sometimes a bold, innovative, mostly unprecedented new approach may be needed, e.g., a new way of preparing and evaluating teachers, more robust and imaginative integration of educational technology and social media in education, more sharing of resources between schools (for instance, courses taught over the web), different forms of evaluation, or a new way of funding public education.</p> <p dir="ltr">Five, whatever is proposed and enacted will require years to be implemented, take root, and have a measurable impact.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Dr. Bruce W. Dearstyne lives in Guilderland, New York. He is the author of <a href="http://www.sunypress.edu/p-6054-the-spirit-of-new-york.aspx" target="_blank">The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State's History</a>, published in 2015 by SUNY Press.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/17789177735_a743dd008d_z.jpg" alt="cuomo parental choice BK May 2015" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo in May, 2015 (photo:&nbsp;Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)</span></p> <hr /> <p>The past several months have been one of the most tumultuous periods in New York State's educational history, culminating several years of false starts and disarray in education policy. It's not without precedent, though, and history has valuable lessons for New York today.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Disillusionment and disavowal of recent educational practices</strong><br />In December, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, replacing the 15-year old No Child Left Behind Act and sweeping away its emphasis on standardized tests and punitive approach to failing schools. The new law returns power to the states and dilutes the federal government's power to impose educational standards. That will loosen the hold of federal requirements on New York's educational policy.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also in December, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced and endorsed the report of his "Common Core Task Force," which had been charged with evaluating the rollout of Common Core educational standards, which the federal government had supported. The task force recommended adopting new, locally-driven New York State standards and, as the governor noted, "greatly reducing testing and testing anxiety for our students. The Common Core was supposed to ensure all of our children had the education they needed to be college and career-ready – but it actually caused confusion and anxiety. That ends now."</p> <p dir="ltr">At the same time, the Board of Regents approved a four-year moratorium on using student scores on state standardized tests as part of the teacher evaluation system, something teachers had protested (local tests will still be used, though). The Regents' suspension of the policy is in line with another recommendation of the governor's Common Core task force. The governor had also endorsed use of student test scores in teacher evaluation, a position he has also now abandoned.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Regents adopted the Common Core some years ago and required its use in the schools without providing the necessary implementation materials or training for teachers, and mandated exams on material that had not been fully covered in the classroom. Teachers protested that the process was too rushed and opposed using the test scores in their own job evaluations. Thousands of parents joined an "opt out" movement by refusing to let their children take the exams. The embattled state commissioner of education, John King, &nbsp;who oversaw the rushed rollout, left for a post in Washington, D.C. His successor, MaryEllen Elia, has promised a more thoughtful and responsive approach.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York's per-pupil spending is among the highest in the nation but there are constant reports and press stories that our graduates are not adequately prepared for the workforce or college.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the meantime, over the past several years New York has established a second network of publically-funded schools called charter schools, paralleling and often competing with its traditional public schools, with mixed results.</p> <p dir="ltr">After years of disarray, we are (or should be) at a turning point. It is time for a fresh look at education policy in New York. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Gov. Cuomo, in his State of the State address on Jan. 13, proposed changes, but relatively limited ones. Referring to criticism in his common core task force's report of "common core curriculum implementation mistakes and testing regimen," he said that "we urge the state education department to do it right this time." He supports increased school aid, expansion of charter schools, and more support for "failing" high-needs schools, including through the community schools program.</p> <p dir="ltr">Those are significant, but they are modest; mostly more funding and a do-over of the common core rollout, well short of new departures.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Historic turning points in New York educational policy</strong><br />This could be a time of opportunity for major changes to strengthen education in New York. But that would require bold, imaginative leadership.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the years, history suggests, New York periodically worries about, analyzes, and occasionally takes dramatic initiatives to strengthen its educational system or move off in substantially new directions.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em> A few examples:</em></p> <p dir="ltr">*New York commits to public education. In 1812, after earlier plans to stimulate the establishment of public schools (or "common schools" as they were called then) had failed, the legislature passed the Common School Act of 1812. It created a state superintendent of public schools, outlined a process for creation and operation of local school districts, provided that the voters in each district would elect trustees to operate the schools, established a system of local revenue raised by towns and counties matched by state aid to support the schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">The act established three precedents: public schools are a function of the state; they are to be locally administered with state oversight; and funding is a joint state-local responsibility. Article XI of the current state constitution reflects the state commitment established back in 1812: "The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools, wherein all the children of the state may be educated."</p> <p dir="ltr">*A governor initiates consolidation and streamlining of state educational policy. New York entered the 20th century with responsibility for educational policy scattered between the state Department of Public Instruction (successor to the Superintendent of Public Schools established in 1812) and the Board of Regents, established years earlier mainly to oversee higher education. Governor Theodore Roosevelt (1899-1901), a Republican, appointed a study commission which recommended consolidation of educational oversight in a new State Education Department under the Regents. "The plan proposed is simple, effective and wholly free from political or partisan considerations," Roosevelt said, optimistically, in a message to the legislature in&nbsp;1900.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, partisan bickering and procrastination stalled action until 1904 when, during the tenure of Roosevelt’s successor, Republican Governor Benjamin B. Odell, Republicans in the legislative majority drew up a bill to implement the recommendation.</p> <p dir="ltr">But Democrats denounced the bill, in part because Republicans had proposed it. Democratic Assembly Minority Leader George Palmer called it "the most vicious...partisan legislation offered before this body in the last decade." The bill passed by a strictly party vote, except for one Democratic assemblymember who broke ranks to vote for&nbsp;it. But it launched New York onto a new educational path.</p> <p dir="ltr">*A Commissioner of Education charts a new course for education. New York's first Commissioner of Education, Andrew S. Draper (1904-1913), took charge of educational policy. "The public school system has come to be the main hope of our nation," he wrote in his book, American Education, in 1909. "In this American system of schools the predominant characteristics of our future American citizenship are being, and must continue to be, developed." Schools should be expected "to give every child not only the means of informing himself and of expressing himself, but also a definite trade or vocation through which he may earn a living."</p> <p dir="ltr">Like most effective commissioners since then, he recommended policy actions to the Regents, worked for their approval, and then vigorously implemented them, rather than waiting for the Regents to tell him what to do.</p> <p dir="ltr">Draper raised standards, adjusted the curriculum to ensure students received instruction that would make them job-ready and also effective citizens, clarified and strengthened the roles of local principals and superintendents, and pushed for school consolidation. He supported stronger teacher training and established a statewide teacher retirement system. Draper's initiatives strengthened and elevated &nbsp;education.</p> <p dir="ltr">*A governor dramatically increases state aid for education. State aid to schools was meager in the early 20th century. Governor Alfred E. Smith (1919-1921, 1923-1929), a Democrat, championed public education and pushed for more school funding. When the Republican-controlled legislature balked, Smith appointed a Commission on School Finance and Administration headed by a prominent civic leader and businessman, Michael Friedsam, president of &nbsp;B. Altman &amp; Company department store in New York City, which recommended a substantial increase in state funding in 1926.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Friedsam report resulted in a good deal of public support for substantially increased aid to education. But the fiscally tight-fisted legislature refused to act on the report. Smith made education aid a priority in his successful 1926 re-election campaign, denouncing his political opponents' "cheap political tricks" and "underhanded&nbsp;propaganda." The 1927 legislature raised funding to $82,500,000, a significant increase. But in a political swipe at the governor, legislative leaders announced that this was $2 million less than Smith's request, an indication, they insisted, of the legislature's fiscal&nbsp;frugality.</p> <p dir="ltr">*The Regents revamp education policy. By the early 1930s, educators were complaining that curricular requirements were outdated, employers asserted that public education was not adequately preparing students for jobs in business and industry, and many taxpayers thought that education had become too costly.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Regents responded by launching a searching analysis, The Regents Inquiry into the Character and Cost of Public Education, in 1935-1938. When the legislature showed reluctance to fund the study, the Regents secured support for it from the Rockefeller Foundation. The study was headed by highly respected Regent Owen D. Young, who was also chief executive officer of General Electric. It was carried out by recognized experts in education and public policy. The inquiry issued a summary report and ten supplemental reports on specific topics.</p> <p dir="ltr">Youths leaving high school "are not adequately educated...not prepared to play a helpful part in the life of this state," the report&nbsp;said. The school curriculum "has not been designed to fit them for the new and changing work opportunities which they must face in modern economic life." The report recommended more technical and vocational training to impart "immediately marketable skills" and "character education," training in civics and citizenship, and many other curricular&nbsp;changes.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Education Department should relax its regulatory oversight over the schools, allow greater local school board autonomy, and concentrate on identifying and disseminating modern educational practices to the schools, it said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The report also recommended stronger teacher training programs, higher salaries and expanded tenure protection to attract more and better&nbsp;teachers.</p> <p dir="ltr">The report was a wellspring for substantial changes in education policy, practices, and curriculum over the next&nbsp;decade.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>This could be another historic turning point for education in New York State</strong><br />The past few years of education policy disarray, and the historical examples outlined above and others that might be cited, suggest five insights for shaping New York's future educational plans.</p> <p dir="ltr">One, leadership is critical, and it can come from the Governor, Regents, Commissioner of Education, or key legislators.</p> <p dir="ltr">Two, for many years New York's educational system was regarded as among the best in the nation. Regents exams and degrees were something approaching a gold standard in education. Those were years before substantial federal involvement in education, before externally-created standards such as common core, and before a continual barrage of proposed educational reforms from outside think tanks such as the Gates Foundation. New York leaders acted on New York reports on the state's needs and opportunities. This might argue for returning to a system of more reliance on New York's own educational experts and less on outsiders.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three, a carefully-compiled, visionary, thoughtful analytical report, describing current conditions, setting forth a vision, and outlining a preferred course of action, can inform and streamline the process of reaching a consensus and taking action.</p> <p dir="ltr">Four, sometimes a bold, innovative, mostly unprecedented new approach may be needed, e.g., a new way of preparing and evaluating teachers, more robust and imaginative integration of educational technology and social media in education, more sharing of resources between schools (for instance, courses taught over the web), different forms of evaluation, or a new way of funding public education.</p> <p dir="ltr">Five, whatever is proposed and enacted will require years to be implemented, take root, and have a measurable impact.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Dr. Bruce W. Dearstyne lives in Guilderland, New York. He is the author of <a href="http://www.sunypress.edu/p-6054-the-spirit-of-new-york.aspx" target="_blank">The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State's History</a>, published in 2015 by SUNY Press.&nbsp;</p> The Week That Was in New York Politics, October 12-16 2015-10-16T15:31:18+00:00 2015-10-16T15:31:18+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5936:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-october-12-16 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" width="600" height="409" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday October 16</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Mayor de Blasio and former Mayor David Dinkins at the ceremony naming The David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, via The Mayor's Office; Hillary Clinton and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at a protest rally in Las Vegas before the Democratic presidential debate, <a href="https://twitter.com/PedroJulio/status/653735190309703680" target="_blank">via Pedro Julio Serrano</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/BdB_Dinkins_via_mayors_office.jpg" alt="BdB Dinkins via mayors office" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="400" height="266" /></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/HRC_MMV.jpg" alt="HRC MMV" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="400" height="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. MTA Funding Deal:</strong> This past Saturday, after months of debate, city and state officials reached a <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/editorial-mta-capital-plan-finally-article-1.2393980" target="_blank">deal</a> over funding for the MTA’s capital plan. New York City will pay an additional $2.5 billion, while the state will contribute $8.3 billion to meet what was the outstanding need of the $26 billion plan to expand and repair the MTA system over the next five years. As part of the <a href="http://observer.com/2015/10/cuomo-and-de-blasio-bury-hatchet-in-mta-funding-fight/" target="_blank">deal</a>, the state cannot divert funds from the capital plan, as the state has repeatedly removed money from the MTA budget in the past. Questions remain, however, over how the state and the city plan to pay for their shares - Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/exclusive-nys-eyes-ways-fund-8-3b-mta-article-1.2393330" target="_blank">said</a> his conference won’t support new taxes to pay for the commitment and questioned new borrowing. De Blasio’s team is expected to outline its plans as part of a reworked capital budget in 2016.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. De Blasio’s First Town Hall:</strong> Mayor de Blasio held the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-at-rare-public-forum-presents-himself-as-a-protector-of-tenants.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">first town hall</a> of his mayoralty in Washington Heights on Wednesday evening. The mayor took questions from a crowd of about 250 during the two-hour town hall with a focus on rent security and tenant protection. The town hall seems to be <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5935-the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio" target="_blank">part of a shifting strategy</a> for public interaction that began in late August, when Mayor de Blasio began <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5935-the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio" target="_blank">making more appearances on TV and radio shows</a>, as well as more formal in-person outreach to New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Cuomo Team Returns to Puerto Rico:</strong> A delegation of New York State officials led by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul returned to <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Hochul-to-lead-team-on-Puerto-Rico-trip-6565430.php" target="_blank">Puerto Rico</a> this week in an attempt to help the territory deal with its debt and health care crises. The delegation <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/10/cuomo-admin-sends-more-help-to-puerto-rico/" target="_blank">included</a> Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson, and Assemblymembers Marco Crespo and Richard Gottfried. Cuomo led the first delegation to Puerto Rico about a month ago.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. De Blasio to Israel:</strong> The mayor&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-on-israel-trip-plans-visit-with-palestinians.html" target="_blank">headed to Israel</a> late Thursday to deliver a keynote address at the annual Conference of Mayors, where he will speak on the <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/mayor-de-blasio-israel-international-conference-article-1.2390617">topic</a> “Anti-Semitism in the West: How Cities Must Lead.” During the three-day trip, Mayor de Blasio will meet with Palestinians at a bilingual school in Jerusalem, a break from his predecessors, who only met with Israelis while visiting Israel in the past - though mayor won’t be meeting with official representatives of the Palestinian government. Questions remain around the private funding of de Blasio’s trip.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force:</strong> Governor Cuomo's "Common Core Task Force"&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/10/8579078/cuomos-common-core-panel-set-meet-next-week" target="_blank">met</a> for the first time Friday. The panel, made up of 15 educators, lawmakers, and business leaders, could suggest overhauling the Common Core standards in New York. Governor Cuomo <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/09/8578053/new-task-force-familiar-faces-cuomo-wants-common-core-total-reboot" target="_blank">announced</a> a ‘total reboot’ of Common Core was necessary after roughly 20 percent of state students opted not to take standardized tests aligned with the tougher standards. On a related note, earlier in the week, the State Assembly education committee held a meeting on the state's most struggling schools. After Friday's meeting the Common Core Task Force announced plans for at least a dozen public forums and that it had appointed its first "student ambassador." [From September 29 when the task force had just been announced:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5913-absent-from-cuomos-new-education-task-force-a-student" target="_blank">Absent from Cuomo's New Education Task Force: A Student</a>]</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$1.67 million</strong> in unclaimed funds have been <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-nyc-finds-1-67m-lost-cash-state-registry-article-1.2393467" target="_blank">returned</a> to the city after Public Advocate Letitia James led a push for the city to recover money from New York’s unclaimed funds registry, which found that the city had more than 2,000 accounts with unclaimed funds.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$174,000</strong>is outgoing Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson’s new judicial <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/10/10/outgoing-bronx-da-to-score-300k-in-judge-salary-pension/" target="_blank">salary</a>, which he intends to collect in addition to his pension, which is estimated could be as much as $142,000 per year, according to The New York Post.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>41 months</strong> in federal prison for former Rikers correction officer Austin Romain for accepting over $11,000 in <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2015/10/13/former-rikers-correction-officer-who-accepted-more-than--11k-in-bribes-gets-41-months-in-federal-prison.html" target="_blank">bribes</a> as part of a scheme to distribute marijuana to Rikers inmates.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>3 states, 8 people, and over $100,000</strong> in <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/criminal-justice/2015/10/14/eight-face-charges-in-connection-with-alleged-illegal-gun-smuggling-operation.html" target="_blank">illegal weapons</a> were involved in a gun-running ring busted by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. 112 guns were sold to an undercover police officer during the year-long investigation into the gun-smuggling ring.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>11-year&nbsp;</strong>difference between the <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Community-Health-Profiles-Show-Disparity-Between-New-York-City-Neighborhoods-332607172.html" target="_blank">life expectancy</a> of residents of Brooklyn’s impoverished Brownsville neighborhood and the residents of Manhattan’s more affluent financial district.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week for</strong> former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, who this week had the Manhattan Municipal Building <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/municipal-building-renamed-mayor-david-dinkins-article-1.2383824" target="_blank">renamed</a> in his honor.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> Wendell Walters, former assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, who was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for accepting $2.5 million in <a href="http://goo.gl/hacbvH" target="_blank">bribes</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 103 years ago</strong>, on October 14, 1912, then-presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt was <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2007/10/roosevelt-shot-in-milwaukee-on-oct-14-1912-006332" target="_blank">shot</a> in the chest by a Manhattan man while campaigning in Milwaukee. He went on with a scheduled speech despite his wound.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time three years ago</strong>, on October 16, 2012, the FBI arrested Mohammed Nafis for plotting to <a href="http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/17/man-arrested-in-plot-to-blow-up-federal-reserve-bank-in-new-york/" target="_blank">detonate</a> a 1,000 pound car bomb in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time last year</strong>, on October 14, 2014, Mayor de Blasio kicked off two Hurricane Sandy-related employment programs in Queens as a means to better connect residents with <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2014/10/8554657/de-blasio-kicks-sandy-jobs-programs-rockaways" target="_blank">jobs</a> and training programs in the storm-ravaged Rockaways.</li> </ul> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5935-the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio" target="_blank">The Mayor's Media Blitz</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5934-reform-proposals-fly-as-panel-evaluates-ethics-watchdog" target="_blank">Reform Proposals Fly as Panel Evaluates Ethics Watchdog</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5933-measuring-the-mayors-education-agenda" target="_blank">Measuring the Mayor’s Education Agenda</a>, by Kaela Sanborn-Hum</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5932-albany-transparency-and-the-mta-funding-deal-show-us-our-money" target="_blank">Albany Transparency and the MTA Funding Deal: Show Us Our Money</a>, by John Kaehny (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span face="Times New Roman">MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</span></strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">Gotham Gazette's David King <a href="http://www.twcnews.com/nys/capital-region/capital-tonight-interviews/2015/10/9/reporter-roundtable-100915.html" target="_blank">appeared on last Capital Tonight's reporters roundtable</a>&nbsp;to discuss the latest in New York state politics [video].</li> <li dir="ltr">Politico New York's Azi Paybarah <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/10/8579843/quinns-next-chapter-working-homeless" target="_blank">looks at former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's next chapter</a>, which she begins soon as head of a nonprofit combatting homelessness and its effects</li> <li dir="ltr">The Manhattan District Attorney's Office and John Jay College <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/witness-for-the-prosecution-1444946704" target="_blank">are partnering to open a new think tank</a> focused on prosecutorial training and practice.</li> <li dir="ltr">And, the Mets won their NLDS series against the Dodgers; they'll start the NLCS with the Cubs Saturday night at Citi Field in Queens.</li> </ul> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" width="600" height="409" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday October 16</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Mayor de Blasio and former Mayor David Dinkins at the ceremony naming The David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, via The Mayor's Office; Hillary Clinton and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at a protest rally in Las Vegas before the Democratic presidential debate, <a href="https://twitter.com/PedroJulio/status/653735190309703680" target="_blank">via Pedro Julio Serrano</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/BdB_Dinkins_via_mayors_office.jpg" alt="BdB Dinkins via mayors office" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="400" height="266" /></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/HRC_MMV.jpg" alt="HRC MMV" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="400" height="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. MTA Funding Deal:</strong> This past Saturday, after months of debate, city and state officials reached a <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/editorial-mta-capital-plan-finally-article-1.2393980" target="_blank">deal</a> over funding for the MTA’s capital plan. New York City will pay an additional $2.5 billion, while the state will contribute $8.3 billion to meet what was the outstanding need of the $26 billion plan to expand and repair the MTA system over the next five years. As part of the <a href="http://observer.com/2015/10/cuomo-and-de-blasio-bury-hatchet-in-mta-funding-fight/" target="_blank">deal</a>, the state cannot divert funds from the capital plan, as the state has repeatedly removed money from the MTA budget in the past. Questions remain, however, over how the state and the city plan to pay for their shares - Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/exclusive-nys-eyes-ways-fund-8-3b-mta-article-1.2393330" target="_blank">said</a> his conference won’t support new taxes to pay for the commitment and questioned new borrowing. De Blasio’s team is expected to outline its plans as part of a reworked capital budget in 2016.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. De Blasio’s First Town Hall:</strong> Mayor de Blasio held the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-at-rare-public-forum-presents-himself-as-a-protector-of-tenants.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">first town hall</a> of his mayoralty in Washington Heights on Wednesday evening. The mayor took questions from a crowd of about 250 during the two-hour town hall with a focus on rent security and tenant protection. The town hall seems to be <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5935-the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio" target="_blank">part of a shifting strategy</a> for public interaction that began in late August, when Mayor de Blasio began <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5935-the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio" target="_blank">making more appearances on TV and radio shows</a>, as well as more formal in-person outreach to New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Cuomo Team Returns to Puerto Rico:</strong> A delegation of New York State officials led by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul returned to <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Hochul-to-lead-team-on-Puerto-Rico-trip-6565430.php" target="_blank">Puerto Rico</a> this week in an attempt to help the territory deal with its debt and health care crises. The delegation <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/10/cuomo-admin-sends-more-help-to-puerto-rico/" target="_blank">included</a> Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson, and Assemblymembers Marco Crespo and Richard Gottfried. Cuomo led the first delegation to Puerto Rico about a month ago.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. De Blasio to Israel:</strong> The mayor&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-on-israel-trip-plans-visit-with-palestinians.html" target="_blank">headed to Israel</a> late Thursday to deliver a keynote address at the annual Conference of Mayors, where he will speak on the <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/mayor-de-blasio-israel-international-conference-article-1.2390617">topic</a> “Anti-Semitism in the West: How Cities Must Lead.” During the three-day trip, Mayor de Blasio will meet with Palestinians at a bilingual school in Jerusalem, a break from his predecessors, who only met with Israelis while visiting Israel in the past - though mayor won’t be meeting with official representatives of the Palestinian government. Questions remain around the private funding of de Blasio’s trip.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force:</strong> Governor Cuomo's "Common Core Task Force"&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/10/8579078/cuomos-common-core-panel-set-meet-next-week" target="_blank">met</a> for the first time Friday. The panel, made up of 15 educators, lawmakers, and business leaders, could suggest overhauling the Common Core standards in New York. Governor Cuomo <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/09/8578053/new-task-force-familiar-faces-cuomo-wants-common-core-total-reboot" target="_blank">announced</a> a ‘total reboot’ of Common Core was necessary after roughly 20 percent of state students opted not to take standardized tests aligned with the tougher standards. On a related note, earlier in the week, the State Assembly education committee held a meeting on the state's most struggling schools. After Friday's meeting the Common Core Task Force announced plans for at least a dozen public forums and that it had appointed its first "student ambassador." [From September 29 when the task force had just been announced:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5913-absent-from-cuomos-new-education-task-force-a-student" target="_blank">Absent from Cuomo's New Education Task Force: A Student</a>]</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$1.67 million</strong> in unclaimed funds have been <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-nyc-finds-1-67m-lost-cash-state-registry-article-1.2393467" target="_blank">returned</a> to the city after Public Advocate Letitia James led a push for the city to recover money from New York’s unclaimed funds registry, which found that the city had more than 2,000 accounts with unclaimed funds.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$174,000</strong>is outgoing Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson’s new judicial <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/10/10/outgoing-bronx-da-to-score-300k-in-judge-salary-pension/" target="_blank">salary</a>, which he intends to collect in addition to his pension, which is estimated could be as much as $142,000 per year, according to The New York Post.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>41 months</strong> in federal prison for former Rikers correction officer Austin Romain for accepting over $11,000 in <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2015/10/13/former-rikers-correction-officer-who-accepted-more-than--11k-in-bribes-gets-41-months-in-federal-prison.html" target="_blank">bribes</a> as part of a scheme to distribute marijuana to Rikers inmates.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>3 states, 8 people, and over $100,000</strong> in <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/criminal-justice/2015/10/14/eight-face-charges-in-connection-with-alleged-illegal-gun-smuggling-operation.html" target="_blank">illegal weapons</a> were involved in a gun-running ring busted by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. 112 guns were sold to an undercover police officer during the year-long investigation into the gun-smuggling ring.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>11-year&nbsp;</strong>difference between the <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Community-Health-Profiles-Show-Disparity-Between-New-York-City-Neighborhoods-332607172.html" target="_blank">life expectancy</a> of residents of Brooklyn’s impoverished Brownsville neighborhood and the residents of Manhattan’s more affluent financial district.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week for</strong> former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, who this week had the Manhattan Municipal Building <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/municipal-building-renamed-mayor-david-dinkins-article-1.2383824" target="_blank">renamed</a> in his honor.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> Wendell Walters, former assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, who was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for accepting $2.5 million in <a href="http://goo.gl/hacbvH" target="_blank">bribes</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 103 years ago</strong>, on October 14, 1912, then-presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt was <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2007/10/roosevelt-shot-in-milwaukee-on-oct-14-1912-006332" target="_blank">shot</a> in the chest by a Manhattan man while campaigning in Milwaukee. He went on with a scheduled speech despite his wound.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time three years ago</strong>, on October 16, 2012, the FBI arrested Mohammed Nafis for plotting to <a href="http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/17/man-arrested-in-plot-to-blow-up-federal-reserve-bank-in-new-york/" target="_blank">detonate</a> a 1,000 pound car bomb in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time last year</strong>, on October 14, 2014, Mayor de Blasio kicked off two Hurricane Sandy-related employment programs in Queens as a means to better connect residents with <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2014/10/8554657/de-blasio-kicks-sandy-jobs-programs-rockaways" target="_blank">jobs</a> and training programs in the storm-ravaged Rockaways.</li> </ul> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5935-the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio" target="_blank">The Mayor's Media Blitz</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5934-reform-proposals-fly-as-panel-evaluates-ethics-watchdog" target="_blank">Reform Proposals Fly as Panel Evaluates Ethics Watchdog</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5933-measuring-the-mayors-education-agenda" target="_blank">Measuring the Mayor’s Education Agenda</a>, by Kaela Sanborn-Hum</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5932-albany-transparency-and-the-mta-funding-deal-show-us-our-money" target="_blank">Albany Transparency and the MTA Funding Deal: Show Us Our Money</a>, by John Kaehny (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span face="Times New Roman">MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</span></strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">Gotham Gazette's David King <a href="http://www.twcnews.com/nys/capital-region/capital-tonight-interviews/2015/10/9/reporter-roundtable-100915.html" target="_blank">appeared on last Capital Tonight's reporters roundtable</a>&nbsp;to discuss the latest in New York state politics [video].</li> <li dir="ltr">Politico New York's Azi Paybarah <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/10/8579843/quinns-next-chapter-working-homeless" target="_blank">looks at former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's next chapter</a>, which she begins soon as head of a nonprofit combatting homelessness and its effects</li> <li dir="ltr">The Manhattan District Attorney's Office and John Jay College <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/witness-for-the-prosecution-1444946704" target="_blank">are partnering to open a new think tank</a> focused on prosecutorial training and practice.</li> <li dir="ltr">And, the Mets won their NLDS series against the Dodgers; they'll start the NLCS with the Cubs Saturday night at Citi Field in Queens.</li> </ul> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated</p> Absent from Cuomo's New Education Task Force: A Student 2015-09-29T04:52:25+00:00 2015-09-29T04:52:25+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5913:absent-from-cuomos-new-education-task-force-a-student Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/21288221098_baa42e2155_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo students " width="600" height="399" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo chats with students (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/21288221098/in/album-72157658693475812/" target="_blank">photo</a>:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of a "Common Core Task Force – a diverse and highly-qualified group of education officials, teachers, parents, and state representatives from across New York." Absent from the list of task force members is a current student in New York schools.</p> <p>To be sure, there are parents and teachers of New York students on the committee, as well as high-level officials, such as State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, trusted to represent a wide range of views, including those of the young people attending the state's public schools, where the common core standards are being implemented and tested. But, as is often the case when education policy is being made, students are left without a formal seat at the table.</p> <p>Nor are students mentioned as key sources of feedback for the task force, which is charged with performing a "comprehensive review" of the common core and related education policy. In <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dCKKDhHBkA" target="_blank">the video message</a> explaining the committee, Gov. Cuomo says, "I have asked the task force to make the entire process as transparent as possible. It must communicate with parents, teachers, and educators all across the state." The written announcement says the governor "has directed the Task Force...to solicit and consider input from regional advisory councils comprised of parents, teachers and educators."</p> <p>There is an open forum online where anyone can provide "comments and recommendations," part of the new Common Core Task Force <a href="https://www.ny.gov/programs/common-core-task-force" target="_blank">website</a>. At that website, the overview says that "parents and teachers should be able to have faith" in the state's learning standards, which must be "strong, sensible and fair." There is no mention of the confidence of the young people tasked with meeting the standards, whatever the adults decide they may be.</p> <p>When asked about the omission of a student representative, a spokesperson for the governor, Dani Lever, wrote Gotham Gazette to say, "The task force will seek and consider input from all types of stakeholders including students."</p> <p>The announcement of the task force launch includes a statement from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who says that his Democratic majority "has heard the frustrations of parents and educators alike regarding the Common Core implementation in New York State." One can assume that Heastie sees "parents and educators" as able to convey the sentiments of the students.</p> <p>But, comments from the speaker, the governor, and others indicate the common adult schema that education is something done to students, not with them. Heastie's press release statement goes on to say, "We remain confident that our public education system and our students will be best served by a collaborative effort of policy makers, parents and educators."</p> <p>It is this paradigm that Zak Malamed has been working to change. Malamed is the founder and executive director of Students Voice, a non-profit "Inspiring and empowering students to take charge of their education." Malamed is from Great Neck, New York and is a senior at the University of Maryland. <a href="http://www.stuvoice.org/" target="_blank">Student Voice</a> is operating nationally, has robust online <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23stuvoice&amp;src=typd" target="_blank">conversations</a>, and recently launched a student bill of rights project.</p> <p>Malamed, who said by phone Monday evening that he's lobbying the Cuomo administration to create a student advisory council system, had a mixed initial reaction to the lack of a student representative on the governor's new task force.</p> <p>"My initial and impulsive reaction is, if this is really about the students, as Cuomo would say, you would think they would include students directly in this conversation, in this task force," Malamed said after looking around the task force website.</p> <p>"Take a step back as an activist," he continued, "as students, we haven't done enough of the job to really push for that inclusion, we could always do more. Parents and teachers have organized quite well." But, Malamed said, "I don't think it should really rest on students' shoulders to have to force their way onto this type of task force."</p> <p>Like Cuomo and many others, Malamed believes that the common core is strong in concept, but has seen a flawed implementation. He's quick to note, though, that he did not experience common core as a student.</p> <p>Saying "it's frustrating" that there is no student seat on the task force, Malamed noted it would also be "tricky" to just select one student to participate. That's, in part, why he wants a representative advisory council system implemented, so that there is a mechanism for electing student members to these types of commissions.</p> <p>Malamed added, though, that a couple of parents and teachers on the task force doesn't mean "they are totally representative either" - even a union head, he said, like the AFT's Randi Weingarten, who is on Cuomo's committee.</p> <p>In his video message to parents, Cuomo puts students front-and-center, saying that his goal has been "to ensure that all students have access to high standards that prepare them for college and for the workforce, and that every child, in every zip code, has a quality education." The governor says the state must reduce student anxiety by scaling back on testing (about 20 percent of eligible students opted out of <a href="http://www.nysed.gov/news/2015/state-education-department-releases-spring-2015-grades-3-8-assessment-results" target="_blank">the most recent round</a> of state tests).</p> <p>Cuomo says he is eager for the task force to begin its work, and adds, "I urge parents and educators to participate in the process because this is about our children's future and their education to determine their ability to compete in the world of tomorrow."</p> <p>Cuomo distills his message, saying, "the basic truth here is all of this is not about politics and not about Democrats and Republicans, it's not about the bureaucracy, and it's not about politicians or union officials. Education is about the kids."</p> <p>Zak Malamed agrees: "to not include students at the end of the day is silly," he said. "It is perhaps the most important perspective."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/21288221098_baa42e2155_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo students " width="600" height="399" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo chats with students (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/21288221098/in/album-72157658693475812/" target="_blank">photo</a>:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of a "Common Core Task Force – a diverse and highly-qualified group of education officials, teachers, parents, and state representatives from across New York." Absent from the list of task force members is a current student in New York schools.</p> <p>To be sure, there are parents and teachers of New York students on the committee, as well as high-level officials, such as State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, trusted to represent a wide range of views, including those of the young people attending the state's public schools, where the common core standards are being implemented and tested. But, as is often the case when education policy is being made, students are left without a formal seat at the table.</p> <p>Nor are students mentioned as key sources of feedback for the task force, which is charged with performing a "comprehensive review" of the common core and related education policy. In <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dCKKDhHBkA" target="_blank">the video message</a> explaining the committee, Gov. Cuomo says, "I have asked the task force to make the entire process as transparent as possible. It must communicate with parents, teachers, and educators all across the state." The written announcement says the governor "has directed the Task Force...to solicit and consider input from regional advisory councils comprised of parents, teachers and educators."</p> <p>There is an open forum online where anyone can provide "comments and recommendations," part of the new Common Core Task Force <a href="https://www.ny.gov/programs/common-core-task-force" target="_blank">website</a>. At that website, the overview says that "parents and teachers should be able to have faith" in the state's learning standards, which must be "strong, sensible and fair." There is no mention of the confidence of the young people tasked with meeting the standards, whatever the adults decide they may be.</p> <p>When asked about the omission of a student representative, a spokesperson for the governor, Dani Lever, wrote Gotham Gazette to say, "The task force will seek and consider input from all types of stakeholders including students."</p> <p>The announcement of the task force launch includes a statement from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who says that his Democratic majority "has heard the frustrations of parents and educators alike regarding the Common Core implementation in New York State." One can assume that Heastie sees "parents and educators" as able to convey the sentiments of the students.</p> <p>But, comments from the speaker, the governor, and others indicate the common adult schema that education is something done to students, not with them. Heastie's press release statement goes on to say, "We remain confident that our public education system and our students will be best served by a collaborative effort of policy makers, parents and educators."</p> <p>It is this paradigm that Zak Malamed has been working to change. Malamed is the founder and executive director of Students Voice, a non-profit "Inspiring and empowering students to take charge of their education." Malamed is from Great Neck, New York and is a senior at the University of Maryland. <a href="http://www.stuvoice.org/" target="_blank">Student Voice</a> is operating nationally, has robust online <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23stuvoice&amp;src=typd" target="_blank">conversations</a>, and recently launched a student bill of rights project.</p> <p>Malamed, who said by phone Monday evening that he's lobbying the Cuomo administration to create a student advisory council system, had a mixed initial reaction to the lack of a student representative on the governor's new task force.</p> <p>"My initial and impulsive reaction is, if this is really about the students, as Cuomo would say, you would think they would include students directly in this conversation, in this task force," Malamed said after looking around the task force website.</p> <p>"Take a step back as an activist," he continued, "as students, we haven't done enough of the job to really push for that inclusion, we could always do more. Parents and teachers have organized quite well." But, Malamed said, "I don't think it should really rest on students' shoulders to have to force their way onto this type of task force."</p> <p>Like Cuomo and many others, Malamed believes that the common core is strong in concept, but has seen a flawed implementation. He's quick to note, though, that he did not experience common core as a student.</p> <p>Saying "it's frustrating" that there is no student seat on the task force, Malamed noted it would also be "tricky" to just select one student to participate. That's, in part, why he wants a representative advisory council system implemented, so that there is a mechanism for electing student members to these types of commissions.</p> <p>Malamed added, though, that a couple of parents and teachers on the task force doesn't mean "they are totally representative either" - even a union head, he said, like the AFT's Randi Weingarten, who is on Cuomo's committee.</p> <p>In his video message to parents, Cuomo puts students front-and-center, saying that his goal has been "to ensure that all students have access to high standards that prepare them for college and for the workforce, and that every child, in every zip code, has a quality education." The governor says the state must reduce student anxiety by scaling back on testing (about 20 percent of eligible students opted out of <a href="http://www.nysed.gov/news/2015/state-education-department-releases-spring-2015-grades-3-8-assessment-results" target="_blank">the most recent round</a> of state tests).</p> <p>Cuomo says he is eager for the task force to begin its work, and adds, "I urge parents and educators to participate in the process because this is about our children's future and their education to determine their ability to compete in the world of tomorrow."</p> <p>Cuomo distills his message, saying, "the basic truth here is all of this is not about politics and not about Democrats and Republicans, it's not about the bureaucracy, and it's not about politicians or union officials. Education is about the kids."</p> <p>Zak Malamed agrees: "to not include students at the end of the day is silly," he said. "It is perhaps the most important perspective."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p>