Albany Catch-Up

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daily News Albany Bureau Chief Ken Lovett talks about some of the deals emerging from the end of the legislative session in Albany, including Governor Cuomo's new fracking plan, negotiations over the release of teacher ratings, and why New York and New Jersey want Parks Department money for the 9/11 Memorial.


Ken Lovett

Comments [28]


Politicians want to appease parents and "reformers" if it means short-cutting democratic processes, and they can do this because teachers have little political leverage. Now that their livelihoods are heavily politicized, teachers are an easy target for officials wanting to look like they are "doing something." Of course in this climate, no one is brave enough to limit what can quickly turn into parental meddling. This is just another element of a short sighted and ultimately damaging approach to public education, not a "great step in the right direction."One problem that is rarely considered comes out here: what is the impact of parents--with no experience running or managing public education, no expertise in data analysis, etc.-- who want to further tax an already overburdened education system so they can tailor it to their little darlings? An "accountable" parent might consider that the system is there to educate all children, not just their own, and at least prioritize their multiplying demands. The caller who doesn't like his child's guidance councilor, but doesn't want the "data" interpreted for him because they'd "yes him to death" is a great example. Too often, politicians and officials are acting as though enabling parents is an unquestioned good, while with the other side of their mouths worrying about the supposedly failing system. Someone has to manage these parental whims and we should try to understand how dealing with these demands might use time better spent on more pressing systemic needs.Do any parents and other concerned communities ever consider that there is a reason parents are not given full decision power over every single decision relevant to their child's education? It is an education SYSTEM and there are no systems that can fully satisfy each "consumer." But parents don't want to hear this, not when there is an evil teacher is to blame for their child's failures, and not when there is an opportunity to further their kid's cause at the expense of other kids.Perhaps parents who want a voice in education debates could first educate themselves about the ridiculous and self-destructive package that education "reformers" are selling them, then do us all a favor and focus less on grabbing resources for their kids and more on contributing to a national discussion that goes beyond demonizing teachers by demanding accountability from Michelle Rhee-style demagogues and their corporate agendas, for example. Americans are very good at ignoring the need for trade offs, when they finance homes, manage their credit, etc., but something has to give. The charter school fantasy--the cherry picking of students, ignoring the effects of poverty etc, and declaring success--is exhibit A of the kind of schemes pushed on those who don't pay attention.

Jun. 19 2012 11:03 AM
amy from Brooklyn

I grew up in Upstate (Yates County) which is adjacent to Steuben....a county possibly approved for fracking. It is NOT Appalachia up there. It is an area that is finally realizing its tourism potential....small wineries, small farms, vineyards. The communities are VERY VERY divided about fracking as many realize this will destroy the progress that this area is making so that a few people can make a profit. In fact, Rochester (a 60 minute commute) has one of the few job booms....and people CAN and DO commute there. So this is about outsiders coming into upstate and making a quick buck. And in a time when we have a natural gas surplus, makes no sense at all. Instead, we need to fast track small business loans upstate so that many of those wanting to keep their small farms operating or create a local business can do that.

Jun. 19 2012 10:42 AM
Amy from Manhattan

But the risk of fracking isn't limited to the communities where it happens, even if they vote for it. All the people who live downstream & downwind can be affected too, when the waste products get into the water & air. So can the people at the other end of the pipeline, if their tap water ends up w/more radon in it.

Jun. 19 2012 10:39 AM

People have left their farms to live in their cars away from fracking areas, abandoning their homes because they can't breath and children are getting sick with asthma. Listen to the discussion on NPR's Diane Reims Show

Jun. 19 2012 10:39 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The very insightful question you raised Brian about whether economicall depressed communities that opt for fracking really have a true choice -- not to change the subject, but this is similar and parallel to the long-standing question of those who for the most part volunteer for military service in our nation.

Less options = less choice = more unequal sharing of the costs and burdens of society for the benefit of ALL of society.

Jun. 19 2012 10:39 AM

If the watershed is contaminated, it won't be limited to the communities which approved it.

The so-called regulatory agencies are the captives of regulatory capture in both Democratic and Republican admins. You only have to look at the EPAs desperate attempts to minimize the BP spill damage to know that.

Jun. 19 2012 10:38 AM

The Teacher evaluations topic is very interesting, but while everyone is talking about the "evaluation", noone is talking about the path to a successful "evaluation". Standardized test are the worst to truly evaluate how much a student knows, because while you could have a very bright artistic student who could become a successful digital designer, the current standardized test would not test that. And while you could have very bright techie students, also there is not test to evaluate that. Therefore, if I am a teacher and can inspire the students to pursue their interests, what if they do, but the test they take are not evaluating that?! I think it is silly. Also, while some students LIKE STUDYING, many DO NOT, and many do not have parents at home who actually take the time to help accomplish good grades. Therefore, we should also evaluate how successful a family is in educating their kids, evaluate the teachers on some teaching aspects (not just tests), and then evaluate the kids on how much they actually care to study. Remember that we have the lowest % of students pursuing STEM fields.

Jun. 19 2012 10:38 AM
Robert from NYC

Well now let's look at the point that only parents and not the rest of the tax payers who pay teachers' salaries. I think the tax payers have every right to see how teacher's are doing. I don't say they (we) should have a say in the matter of how to handle any particularly teacher who is rated good or bad, that should be up to the school and parents, but as far as seeing how the matters are handled should be allowed to anyone who pays taxes and therefore pays the salaries of the teachers as we should be allowed to see how police, firemen and any government employee whose salaries our taxes pay.

Jun. 19 2012 10:37 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Also, what about giving some advance notice of evaluations? Setting a future date -- perhaps 1 1/2 years -- for the implementation of these evaluations, so teachers can adjust accordingly?

Jun. 19 2012 10:37 AM
SteveH from b'klyn

Stop the madness!

.................2 HOME VISITS per semester by teachers....................

Jun. 19 2012 10:33 AM
CK from YKT

I'd say if they're flaunting their marijuana, they need to be arrested but no need to go searching to find a joint on someone. We have enough people in jail.

And the police will be busy arresting anyone with 32 oz sugary drinks...

Jun. 19 2012 10:33 AM
Suzinne from Bronx

I think this is atrocious. Any employee, including teachers, have to the right to keep their personnel file PRIVATE.

The real problem with a huge amount of these kids are the parents. Parents that don't speak English, parents that are irresponsible, parents that don't care, etc. I'm am so sick of teachers getting the shaft, and I'm not even a teacher!

Jun. 19 2012 10:32 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

What happened to parent-teacher conferences? For making time for parents who work long hours and multiple jobs? That 2nd question hasn't been addressed in this new paradigm, because poor parents can't come in, whether it's for these meetings or to personally check evaluations.

Jun. 19 2012 10:31 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Re: the incessant commercial
"all my radios are tuned to WNYC, it's all we ever listen to"

Yeah, listening exclusively to Fox shows ignorance, but listening strictly to the "right" kind of radio shows great enlightenment.

Looking at the world with blinders on is ALWAYS bad - no matter what kind of blinders they are.

Jun. 19 2012 10:31 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The first PURPOSE and principle of K-12 public education is to safely warehouse kids so their parents can get out and work! Now that most mothers work outside of the home, this became doubly important. Teachers have TOO much responsibility and work without much power or remuneration to pay for it. Teacher need to get the POWER and RESPECT they once had before the LIBERALS TOOK OVER the system back in the 1960s and ruined K to 12!

Jun. 19 2012 10:30 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from MANHATTAN


Jun. 19 2012 10:29 AM

I'm actually agreeing with jgarbuz!

Teachers are being bullied out of the system. They did it to my aunt and now they're harassing another co-worker of hers. The Bloomberg administration has continued its big corporation attitude by going to war with any older employees of the Education Dept. regardless of performance by these people. The pathology is if your old, your out.

Jun. 19 2012 10:28 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ Liz from Brooklyn

Your employer can see your personnel file anytime he wishes. Public employees are employed by...the public!

Jun. 19 2012 10:28 AM
Jill from Westchester

Good teaching is about creating relationships with individual students. A teacher that my older child had struck me as a real dud. My younger child had the same teacher and she was absolutely wonderful for him. Standardized evaluations will never present a clear, complete or accurate picture of that teacher. Parents the solution is simple: go meet your kids teachers. That's it.

Jun. 19 2012 10:26 AM
elementary school mom from brooklyn

Are you kidding me? Parents already know who the good and bad teachers are. The "gossip" you refer to already happens. At least that gossip is based on actual results we see with our kids, including teacher personality, flexibility, creativity, etc, not standardized test scores. It will just lead to even more testing and drive more teachers out.

Jun. 19 2012 10:24 AM
Liz from Brooklyn

This is just ridiculous. I want to know how it becomes anybodies business to see my personal record. What happened to my right privacy.

Jun. 19 2012 10:24 AM
David from Washington Heights

How about police evaluations: public access to evaluations of individual police officers?

Jun. 19 2012 10:23 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Dave, true.

But I think this approach to teacher evaluation and quality control is an improvement. It stops the public spectacle of teacher humiliation -- which is outrageous under the circumstances -- and empowers parents, who seemingly should be the ones driving educational improvement.


Jun. 19 2012 10:22 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Good teachers are being bullied out of the system. I agree with the call who just now who said that ADMINISTRATORS and principals should be evaluated. But like most organizations, its the rank and file and not the managers who first pay the price.

Jun. 19 2012 10:22 AM
Chris from Queens

Certainly releasing full information with names only to parents will protect privacy. It's not as if we have something like the internet where people can share information.

Jun. 19 2012 10:16 AM
Dave from New Brunswick, NJ

Publishing teacher evaluations won't do a damn bit of good to improve education. No one wants to tackle the REAL cause of problems in education: POVERTY, POVERTY, POVERTY!

Bad schools are only a symptom of a greater problem, not the problem in and of itself.

Jun. 19 2012 10:15 AM
g in staten island from staten island

When I was a child and took piano lessons, there came a time that I did not want to practice classical music anymore--I preferred listening to the Beatles on the radio. My parents and the teacher encouraged me, but alas I did not improve because I did not practice. It was not the teacher's fault.
Why is it the public school teacher's fault if students do not improve. Unless there is carryover--homework/practice actually done, the students will show only slow progress. The teahcer should be evaluated on her skill and presentation, not on how much the students progress.

Jun. 19 2012 10:10 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Anti-bullying bill. Just what we need - more thought crimes.

Jun. 19 2012 10:09 AM

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