Voting by not voting (analyzing school budget votes)

Monday, May 26th, 2014 at 1:25 pm by

Tuesday’s statewide school budget votes produced record highs for pass rate (98.2 percent), yes vote percentage (70.5 percent) and record low turnout for both yes and no votes. (The State Education Department has compiled vote counts since 2003).

When reporters and others question me about low turnout in school budget votes (sometimes citing it to challenge the significance of high passage rates), I make two points.

First, in school budget votes, some people vote by not voting.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 1:59 pm by

A message sent to all  State Legislators: Read the rest of this entry »

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Pivotal day in state education policy debates

Monday, February 10th, 2014 at 6:28 am by

Today is a big day for state education policy.  As the Buffalo News explained in a Saturday article,

Educators and lawmakers will be closely watching the Board of Regents when it meets Monday to see if the state’s top education officials will bend to pressure from lawmakers and educators who have complained about the way the state has rolled out the new learning standards. The Regents are expected to put forth a plan in response to a litany of complaints raised by teachers and parents at a series of public forums late last year.

I’m quoted as observing,

I imagine the legislators would hope that the Regents would put forth some ideas that would take down the temperature, satisfy parents and people working in the schools.  I think the stakes are high for the Education Department in that sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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Finance matters

Friday, January 17th, 2014 at 9:46 pm by

School finance seemed to dominate the news in Albany for most of this past week… Read the rest of this entry »

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Message to the Regents: Listen to the field

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 at 12:38 pm by

Today we have a guest post on our blog, written by Neil O’Brien, president-elect of the Council and superintendent of the Port Byron School District in Cayuga County, west of Syracuse.  It appeared first as a message for residents and employees of his district. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect formal positions of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. Read the rest of this entry »

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Home Room — January 8, 2014

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 8:06 am by

In this post:  the State of the State, Common Core, tax freezes, consolidation… Read the rest of this entry »

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Home Room — January 6, 2014

Monday, January 6th, 2014 at 7:32 am by

Could today be the day Governor Andrew Cuomo receives the final recommendations of his Education Reform Commission?

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Home Room — January 3, 2014

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 at 10:11 am by

Just a couple items today — on the waiver to to avoid double testing of middle school students in math, part of the state’s 2014-15 testing schedule, unspent Race to the Top funds, and another “best of 2013″ compilations.

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Home Room — January 2, 2014

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 at 4:11 pm by

Happy New Year!

One of my resolutions is to get back to writing regularly for our blog.

Some items in the news over the past week or so… Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, Leadership, Legislation, Politics, Standards & Assessments, State Budget | No Comments »

Too much testing

Monday, October 7th, 2013 at 8:03 am by


Last week, roughly  2,500 Western New York parents, educators and others came out for a forum on the impact of testing in our schools.  The Buffalo News reported,

“Reform of high-stakes testing for schoolchildren, a groundswell movement of lawn signs and small-scale protests, became an earthquake Wednesday evening.”

At the Council’s fall conference last month, Rockville Centre superintendent Bill Johnson warned State Education Commissioner John King that the testing “opt-out” movement is growing.  He stressed, “This is different,” explaining the participants are more thoughtful and better organized than critics of the past.

Reporting on a State Senate Education Committee hearing, Newsday wrote,

“Emotions ran high Tuesday at a Long Island public hearing on state tests and related school issues as a procession of parents, teachers and others assailed what they described as Albany’s overemphasis on student assessments.”

Testifying at the Senate’s Syracuse hearing, a statewide PTA leader said,

 “If you ask our members (and we have), our concerns aren’t based so much on a fear of instructional change, but with a perception that we have become obsessed with student testing, with preparation for tests and with the use of test results for purposes never intended by their designers.”

I like to say it’s hard to get the right answers if you’re asking the wrong questions.  Also, we often overlook the simple question, “Why?”

Why is this happening now?  What has changed in recent years to cause discontent over student testing to swell?

Read the rest of this entry »

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