After opt-out, what will Cuomo do next?
On April 14, in a debate about educational testing aired live on MSNBC, New York State Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch admitted that New York state students are being used as pawns in a war begun by Gov. Andrew Cuomo against the New York State Teachers’ Union. At the end of the debate with Diane Raitch, Tisch blurted out, “The students are caught in a labor dispute between the governor and the teachers’ union.”
Cuomo earlier this year stated that he was going to take on the educational bureaucracy in New York state (teachers union) with his educational reforms, based on student testing being used to evaluate teachers and schools. In response to Cuomo’s attack, parents and students have opted out of the state testing program this year in record numbers, with tens of thousands of students not sitting for testing that began April 14.
This action will make the test results null and void, and literally useless to be used to rate teachers and schools. Additionally, due to the lack of participation of at least 95 percent of the students needed to meet the first criterion of achieving Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), hundreds of schools will now be added to Cuomo’s list of failing schools.
It will be interesting to watch Cuomo’s next moves. Will he try to withhold state aid from schools that did not meet AYP? What will his counterattack to the testing boycott be? Will he sign the bill being considered by the New York state Senate and Assembly to support parents and schools in opting out of tests? Will he in fact declare 400 or more schools in New York as failing?
It will be interesting to watch as this unfolds.
The writer is a retired teacher, principal and superintendent.
Urge Rep. Stefanik to oppose TPP deal
Remember NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement? America was promised jobs and increased exports. Instead, we’ve lost 5 million manufacturing jobs and our trade deficit has ballooned to hundreds of billions of dollars each year, as corporations took advantage of this trade deal to move tens of thousands of factories to other countries.
Now we’re being told that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a NAFTA-on-steroids trade deal involving 12 Pacific countries, will create jobs. Skeptical?
This deal is being negotiated secretly by 600 corporate lawyers. If it’s so good, why are they hiding it from us? But some if it has been leaked (www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/trade-rule-illegal-favor-local-business-tpp-leak-wikileaks).
It turns out that favoring local businesses will be prohibited by the TPP. That means the end of laws that support Buy American or Buy Local initiatives. The TPP would also force governments to pay corporations if we prohibit them from polluting our environment, selling harmful products or exploiting workers.
Under the TPP, foreign corporations would be able to sue local and national governments in tribunals of unelected corporate lawyers, and their rulings would overturn our laws, even our Supreme Court rulings, and could not be appealed. That means the end of U.S. sovereignty.
The TPP would not only help corporations move manufacturing jobs overseas, it would also create a flood of food imports that would put upstate New York family farms out of business. About 170,000 small U.S. family farms have gone under since NAFTA and the World Trade Organization took effect. Do we need more of this?
And where is U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik on this anti-American deal that puts corporate profits before national interests? Instead of standing up for protecting jobs, our ability to buy American and U.S. sovereignty, Stefanik was one of 26 House Republicans signing on to a letter supporting the TPP and Fast Track, under which Congress would give up its rights to make any changes and could only vote up or down.
Is she supposed to represent the world’s richest multinational corporations or average working people in upstate New York? That’s why dozens of pro-democracy citizens protested outside her three district offices in Glens Falls, Plattsburgh and Watertown on April 11.
If you care about jobs, about buying American, about farmers, and about democracy, then call Rep. Stefanik at (518) 743-0964 and tell her she should be ashamed of putting corporate profits before democracy, and to reverse her support for fast-tracking the TPP.
Obama foreign policy is about his legacy
I tried to stay silent on the foreign issues taking place as we speak and it’s not working. I read Linda Chavez’s April 6 article and she was so on the mark.
I do have a few things to add. First, our president is so concerned about his foreign policy legacy that his thought process is telling him to make it happen, even if it’s wrong.
The Middle East has been unstable for a very long time. When dictators are in power, things are relatively quiet. Every time we have intervened, i.e. Iraq, Afghanistan and Lybia, no good has come of it. Iranian-backed militias have moved in. Guess what? We are fighting them. With this going on, how can we even fathom making any nuclear deal, or any deal that Iran will abide by? Have we not lost enough lives with very minimal gains?
Russia and President Vladimir Putin went into Ukraine, took what they wanted, namely, Crimea — basically laughing at Obama and the administration. Russia also stands shoulder to shoulder with Iran, selling weapons and technology, possibly nuclear. Does Obama even think? I truly believe we need to wake up before we no longer have that option.
And on a lighter note, I have one more thing to clear up on a totally different topic, one that was written on April 16 by Diane Hombach regarding who invented air conditioning. Frederick McKinley Jones was an intelligent man who had over 60 patents, but Willis Haviland Carrier invented modern A/C in 1902. Way before that, people like Samuel Morse, the Chinese and the Persians made one form or another type of cooling process. Just saying, the Internet is a wonderful thing.
Republicans have odd definition of ‘govern’
Following the 2014 mid-term elections, the leadership of the Republican-controlled Congress boasted that they would demonstrate to the American public that “they can govern.” Apparently, they believe that “govern” means “repeal, reverse and roll back.” Consider their efforts thus far.
Soon after the elections, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would continue their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). True to their word, the House and the Senate recently approved a Republican spending bill that includes repeal of the ACA. As in the past, the Republicans offered no suggestion as to what would replace the ACA and what would happen to the millions of Americans insured under the ACA.
John Boehner promised to reverse the president’s executive orders to allow roughly 5 million undocumented workers to remain in the United States. President Obama had used the executive orders only because Mr. Boehner refused to have the House act on a bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013. In early March, much to Mr. Boehner’s chagrin, the House passed a “clean” Homeland Security funding bill without provisions that would curtail the president’s executive orders on immigration. In January, House Republicans once again tried to bring to the floor the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” as part of their effort to eventually reverse Roe v. Wade. However, the bill was pulled because 12 female Republican members of the House considered certain elements of the bill too restrictive.
As part of their 2015 agenda, the Republicans have vowed to roll back environmental rules, arguing that they prevent businesses from expanding. Recently, Senate supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline failed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of their legislation that would have cleared the way for construction of the project.
Republicans also say they will reverse the president’s executive action to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, but have not yet decided on how to do so. They also oppose his negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and we are well aware of their recent attempts to derail the negotiations. If the above are examples of Republican “governing,” what is “dysfunction?”
Police need to crack down on jaywalkers
Recently, at about 10 p.m. I almost — again — hit another jaywalker who darted in front of traffic to get to the other side of Central Avenue. About every three months, someone is killed crossing Route 5, Central Avenue, in Albany or Colonie.
Isn’t it about time the Albany and Colonie police — in an unmarked car — drive up and down Central Avenue and give out jaywalking tickets?
When you do it, put it on the news so all will know and lives would be spared.
Philip J. Harper
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Categories: Letters to the Editor