Thursday, June 14, 2018

NY: Tireless Charter Servant

In 1986, John Flanagan was a 25-year-old second year law student when his father died of a heart attack and NY GOP leaders recruited him to take over the family business. Then in 2015, Senate Leader Dean Skelos was nabbed for Naughty Behavior, and Flanagan was moving up in the world again.

Not great news for education in New York.

Flanagan is a legislator who has bobbed and weaved on the Common Core.  

This damn guy
To make parents more comfortable with what is happening in their children’s classrooms and by extension their kids as well, Senate Republicans will pass legislation to improve the provisions that were enacted in the state budget to ensure that tests are age-appropriate for children and the curriculum is consistent with higher learning standards, among other things,

In other words, he promised to try to do things with the stuff and spray lots of smoke and mirrors at the Core. But nothing that means anything. I'm sure they didn't use that kind of vague non-promise in rehab.        

He was a vocal supporter of Betsy DeVos as candidate for secretary of education.

Her support for an all-of-the-above approach to K-12 education – from charter schools, to public, private and online education – defines the school choice movement that has helped countless children across many of our states. By advancing these innovative solutions from the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos will put children first and empower not only states to lead the way in making critical education decisions, but also empower parents to choose what type of education is best for their children.

It will comes as no surprise that Flanagan has been a great charter booster. He's been vocal in criticism of NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio for not being nice enough to charters. He's been involved in Albany rallies for charter schools.

But now he's created some new leverage.

He has proposed a bill to address New York's broken (and kind of stupid) teacher evaluation system. And he'll finally back some relief for teachers-- if he can have a higher cap for charters. Fixing the teacher evaluation system is really important-- if he can have more charters.

In some ways, Flanagan's proposal is oddly honest. It tacitly admits that Flanagan is a dealmaker, that he has no interest in any of the ideas or principles-- just what he can trade for. No need to talk to Flanagan about the merits of any of this-- just tell him what points he can make on any given deal. Flanagan's play also tacitly admits that charter and teacher interests are innately opposed to each other, that charter schools are bad for teachers and it's reasonable to expect teachers to oppose them..

Is there any reason to tie better teacher evaluations to charter caps? No more than tying teacher evals to dog registration costs or global warming studies or the cost of seats for a Yankees game? No, none at all. If Flanagan wanted to propose a fix for teacher evaluations, he could just propose it. But Flanagan doesn't want to fix teacher evaluations-- he just wants to make a deal so that more charters can bloom  in New York. This is no way to run a state.


  1. "Flanagan's play also tacitly admits that charter and teacher interests are innately opposed to each other, that charter schools are bad for teachers and it's reasonable to expect teachers to oppose them."

    This statement is probably true - at least insofar as we're looking mainly at teacher working conditions -compensation, benefits, etc. And we know that Greene values teacher autonomy which certainly is anathema to most charters.

    But this is where the purported alignment between teachers an charters is questionable. First, why are you even talking about teachers if the focus is supposed to be on students ? Second, many families have chosen to leave district schools for charters suggesting that they prioritize their own children. (How bizarre ?)

    At its most basic level, teachers dislike charters because they provide competition for the traditional district model. No one likes competition (at least not producers) ! But there are already 7,000 charters educating 3.2 million students. And the demand exists for more charters. The monopoly has broken ... and the pending Janus decision will only accelerate this. Greene likely knows this. But the Russians held off the Germans for a long time in their war of attrition. Many of the enemy died in the long winter. And in the meantime, the vodka was good. (In other words, teachers don't need to "win". They just hope to slow things down long enough for older teachers like Greene to retire before charters and underfunded pension schemes take their toll.)

  2. I face that inane evaluation every year and would love to see it go away, but I hope Flanagan's "compromise" fails. I'd rather deal with the current devil than give an inch on charter schools. What you may not know is that even a clean bill without the charter cap issue is a poor bill.

    I am very disappointed that my state union NYSUT was advocating for its passage. You see, a teacher's evaluation would still be tied to tests...just not the state BS tests. Local districts would be able to choose what tests to use, as a negotiated issue with their teacher unions.

    What teachers want is local control to determine how to evaluate their own staff. If a district doesn't want to use test scores?, so be it.

    Peter, you are so right about Flanagan. His "deal" really shows he cares little about the schools. There is a good chance he will be gone from the Senate Leader post this fall, as it looks increasingly likely the chamber will change from Republican to Democratic control.

    But then we start again...