Yesterday Chancellor of the Board of Regents Merryl Tisch announced that she will step down when her term is up this Spring. Tisch has been bold and outspoken about the need for higher standards in course content, professional development, and accountability. Therefore, some commentators interpreted her resignation as confirmation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a more conciliatory approach towards concerns raised by unions about the Common Core, a logical assumption given his recent announcement of a state "review" of the standards.
Karen Magee, president of the New York State United Teachers Union, told the New York Times,
With this announcement, New York state can move past an era that put far too much emphasis on standardized testing and, too often, dismissed the concerns of parents and educators. This mistaken direction in state education policy led to a serious erosion of trust and confidence.
I don't think it's that simple. Tisch, who was appointed to the Board of Regents in 1996, was increasingly isolated from leanings of the state-appointed 17-member group. While the Board was once solidly behind Tisch's leadership on elevating standards and assessments, support has gradually weakened as NYSUT has become more confrontational. The union is indefatigably opposed to linking student outcomes on CCSS-aligned tests to teacher evaluations and last year passed a vote of vote of no-confidence in the Common Core. (The union also passed a vote of no-confidence in John King and you see how that worked out.)
Twenty percent of NY parents, especially white ones in wealthy suburbs, opted their kids out of the Questar assessments; the NYT called Long Island "a particular hot spot." (In contrast, NYC had an opt-out rate of less than 2%.)
And last June the Board of Regents might have felt bullied into passing regulations that links 50% of teacher evaluations to student outcomes. (The final vote was 11-6.) That percentage is too high, and the lack of consensus a sign of Tisch's diminishing control.
And, of course, Gov. Cuomo, confoundingly taking cues from NJ's Gov. Christie, called for a "review" of the Common Core, perhaps the last straw for Tisch.
Here's the Governor:
So I thank her very much for her service. This is also a time where you’re going to see a lot of changes in the education system. The Common Core system I think almost everyone uniformly agrees needs dramatic reform, and we’re working on that now
"I thank her for her service?" How ho-hum can you get? Might as well say, "here's your hat, what's your hurry."
Chancellor Tisch herself wondered if her stalwart advocacy for higher standards and achievement in New York State was "too much at once." She continued, "I say we disrupted stagnation. We disrupted complacency, and we tried to imbue the system with urgency.”
Let's hope that, even with Tisch's departure, the urgency remains.
Labels: ccss, Cuomo, New York