NYS Comm. Elia is No Union-First Hack

Today the New York Post Editorial Board comes out swinging, fists squarely directed at State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia because she committed the unforgivable transgression of shortening the state’s Common Core-aligned tests.

Settle down, folks. Remember that PARCC, the consortium of seven states and D.C. that administer similar CCSS-aligned tests, also recently shortened its testing window. So Elia’s sin is hardly original.

Anyway, the Post isn’t after the length of NYS’s testing or parental concerns about student stress. They're after the Commissioner because “the teachers unions are already pulling her strings.”

From the editorial:
 “A constant comment is that the assessments are long, and that is one of the reasons that a number of parents chose to not have their children participate,” says Elia. 
Statewide, 20 percent of kids opted out of tests this year. But it was the teachers unions that drove the opt-out movement — complete with robocalls to parents. 
And not because the tests were too taxing for overburdened kiddies. Ever since Albany made scores part of teacher evaluations in 2010, the unions have undermined the effort. Teachers union boss Mike Mulgrew last year admitted going all-out to “gum up the works” in the city. 
It’s worked to keep test scores from exposing incompetents. More than nine out of 10 teachers get rated “effective” or better, even as two out of three kids regularly fail the tests… It’s not about the parents or the kids. Once again with New York’s Education Department, it’s about the unions first.
First, let’s give the Commissioner a break. She started addressing New York’s opt-out problem when she first took office and has hardly pandered to union leaders’ greed for undermining accountability. At an Educators 4 Excellence conference Elia said, “I am absolutely shocked if, and I don’t know that this happened, but if any educators supported and encouraged opt-outs. I think it’s unethical.”

She just took a hit from Governor Cuomo, who earlier this month gobsmacked the education world by aping Chris Christie and  calling for a “review” of Common Core, a senseless and time-sucking enterprise.*

She has to deal with the mayor of NY’s  largest school system who gave an education policy speech Wednesday that Professor David C. Bloomfield reduced (accurately) to “a feel-good parade of accomplishments and helpful initiatives” that was "meant to bolster his chances for renewal of mayoral control of schools and re-election." (De Blasio is right now telling Brian Lehrer that his “ plan” doesn’t “directly” address the school system’s daunting racial segregation.)

There’s plenty to dislike about the self-indulgent and accountability-averse propaganda of AFT and NEA’s opt-out lobbying efforts. But let’s not lay that all on the Commissioner. Union hacks Valerie Strauss and Carol Burris have nothing good to say about her; that alone speaks well of Elia's ability to wrangle New York State's roiling education politics.

*See the Daily Caller: "The state of New York looks to be the next state with plans to re-brand the Common Core by calling it something else but otherwise making virtually no substantive curriculum changes."

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