Regents Pathways – Not the answer to the problem.


Let’s take a moment to look at this graphic EngageNY/NYSED is using to market Regents Pathways to us as a solution to the fact that some students will just never pass 5 regents exams in order to earn a high school diploma.

Red, Yellow, Green.   Interesting choice of colors.  It continues the standard line that if you are not college bound you are either stopped, or you have to yield.

Up until graduation year 2015, students with IEPs had to attempt to take the five required Regents, (Math, Science, ELA US History and Global History & Geography).  If a student with an IEP fails the Regents, they could qualify to take an RCT (Regents Competency Test), the material is similar, but uses straight forward wording.  The ELA RCT includes practical skills like writing a business letter.  The students were taught the same material, but the RCTs show that NYSED understands that some students will just never test well.  Many years ago, in the early 80s and 90s, students could graduate and earn a diploma with out passing Regents exams or RCTs.  Regents exams were for the elite college bound students, and other students received a local diploma.

Under the college bound mania of No Child Left Behind, NYSED and the Board of Regents have made it far more difficult to graduate high school by insisting on a 5 regents requirement.  Global History and Geography is the most frequently failed regents because it covers two years of course work and is a lot of memorization.  Because of that, the Regents “Blue Ribbon Panel” (that is subject matter for another piece) came up with the idea of adding alternate tests for Global History. That way too many student would’t be considered “non-completers”.

This does nothing for Special Education students with learning disabilities that make it impossible for them to get through the five regents exams.

My 4000 student school district in the lower Hudson Valley has had one student drop out in two years.  We have had 3 drop out this year already.  They have tried and failed at the various regents, 3, 4 or 5 times and just cannot do it.  They see no reason to stay in school anymore.  Check your school district, I am sure there are similar stories all over the state; students who could have graduated with the RCT option last year are now high school dropouts with limited options.

The Board of Regents had a live stream of their meeting on Monday, October 20th, so  I cleared my calendar to watch it.  It was disturbing to see that these people who have agreed to provide every student of New York State the best educational opportunity still don’t understand that it is supposed to be the best educational opportunity for each individual student.

Take a moment and think about truck drivers; how many trucks you see on the roads in a day?  Imagine if we no longer provided students who were happy and skilled at being truck drivers the opportunity to be truck drivers.  You need a diploma.  Food, clothing, hardware, building materials, fuel sources, every material good that makes it into our daily lives is moved on a truck.  If we had a shortage of truck drivers, this country would grind to a halt.

Back the to meeting, Regent Phillips talked about how impressed he was with the Regent Pathways and what opportunities it opened up for students.

We need to let Regent Phillips know that those opportunities were always there.  The Board of Regents now wants to test these options.  Diane Ravitch astutely pointed out that this does nothing for the students but  generate another revenue stream for Pearson.

Regent Tilles talked about having a 0 regent option and then a 5 regent option.  I am not sure what his point was but I think he can see that there are still some problems with this.

Chancellor Tisch announced that there would be “parent universities” to educate us on how well the Regent Pathways will work.  The first one will be in Staten Island on November 6th.  Regent Cea will be the first regent on deck.  Her contact information and biography is here.

The final vote is in January.  We need to let them know that this is not what our children need.  There needs to be a non-high stakes testing option to earn a regular diploma.


Dear Anne Michaud

anne michaud

Dear Anne Michaud,

This showed up in my twitter feed earlier this week.  it reminded me of this op-ed you used your platfrom at Newsday to publish.

It immediately reminded me of the this quote from the piece in Newsday.

“I won’t be voting this year to Stop Common Core. I’ve seen my high school-age daughters more engaged by their assignments than ever before. That’s not a course I want to reverse.”

Mother to mother, I am happy your daughters are enjoying school.  Personally, I believe it has more to do with being matched with the right teachers then it does with Common Core.  Have you read the EngageNY 9th grade ELA modules?   There seems to be a lot of focus on days of close reading one short text or short story.  It does not seem very “engaging” to me.    Plus, if I can find the assignments, exactly as they are laid out, then so can teenagers.  Very easy to plan your homework if you are told to read “Romeo and Juliet” but can find the lesson and know that you really only need to read 3 pages.

But, if your daughters are enjoying their high school experience, then I agree that is good.

Many, if not the majority, of children are not finding anything positive about Common Core.  They are frustrated, downcast, discouraged and demoralized.  I have been a part of special education support groups in my area for years.  I meet parents everyday who are living in fear for their children’s health, education and future.  Parents who tell me that their 7th grade child already is questioning “Why bother going to school?  I don’t get it, I will never get through it, it is more then I can do.”  One mother asked “How do I answer my daughter?”   I told her to tell her daughter that there are plenty of parents who know this is wrong and we are fighting for her.

How would you answer that question Ms. Michaud?  Would you say “Well, my daughters are thriving!” and leave it at that.  Do we lose all the students who are just not thriving under Common Core?

You have a platform Ms. Michaud. You write opinions for Newsday. On a good day, I have 100 people read my little blog.  So, I have a challenge for you.  Please call your school district and the school districts that are adjacent to yours.  Start with asking to speak with the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education.  Asking them how the special education students are doing under common core.  Ask how the elementary students are doing in general.  Ask about how many students will not graduate this year because the RCT’s have been eliminated, and some students, no matter how hard they try, will never pass 5 regents exams, even with a 55.   Then, set up a forum and invite parents.  I would be very interested to know how many parents would show up to an open forum to talk about how well their children are doing under Common Core.

In closing, Ms. Michaud, Common Core may work for your children.  it is not working for millions of others.  Shouldn’t we be working towards an education system that enriches all children, and not just a select few?

NYS HST Graduation Requirements and Grassroots

“My son came home and said he wants to pull his brain out of his head”

“My daughter is in 7th Grade and asked me “Why should I bother going to school?” What do I say to her?”

“We had three students drop out this year already. They were never going to get through the Regents. They gave up.”

“How do I tell my son that he probably won’t get a diploma?”

I participated in a local SEPTA meeting to review with parents what the graduation requirements are and how it will affect their children.  These are the comments that kept me up last night.

In New York State, all students now must pass a regents in Math, Science, ELA, US History and Global History & Geography in order to earn a diploma.  Special education students have the accommodation of passing with a 55.  If these students, who struggle with learning disabilities, cannot pass, the only option is to take the test again and again.  Some families are able to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on tutors to help their children get through this.  Many do not have that kind of money.

These students’ entire high school experience isn’t about learning and social experiences,  it becomes about passing  tests.

Now, thanks to NCLB, RttT and Common Core, the Regents will be even harder.  The ELA regents will go from 2000 words to 6000 words.  Math regents are now as much about vocabulary as they are about arithmetic.

No Child Left Behind is leaving these children without a future.

You do need a diploma to apply for and get a good job.  Every job does not require the knowledge tested on Regents exams.

Are you angry yet?

Tech Co’s Vow to Protect Privacy, Duncan $36 M to Charters 10/10/2014

Highlighted education issues for the week ending October 10th.

NY state is looking to establish bi-lingual classrooms in any school district with more then 20 ELL/ESL students.

Technology companies issues a “Student Privacy Pledge” that is most interesting for the fact that it clearly states in teeny tiny type at the bottom that:

This Pledge is neither intended as a comprehensive privacy policy nor to be inclusive of all requirements to achieve compliance with all applicable federal or state laws. For more information, visit

So, we promised not to violate your child’s privacy, with our fingers crossed behind our backs.

Pearson answers keys continue to be riddled with errors.    It is frightening how sloppy Pearson is, yet how many contracts they continue to win.

SAT scores remain flat from one year to the next with the average score 1497.

A teacher in Batavia NY was forced into retirement for telling students that it was their Constitutional right to refuse to take a drug usage survey that had the students’ names preprinted on them.

NYSCOSS claim to embrace the standards, but the testing? not so much

Reports of teachers shortages in Louisiana encourages the importation of teachers from the Philippines.   “A group of Filipino teachers in Baton Rouge, La., recently won a $4.5 million lawsuit against a company that recruited them to teach in America, and then charged $7,000 or more to process their work visas and other documents, as well an ongoing percentage of their earnings.”

Arne Duncan allocated $36 million to charter schools, while public schools are enrolling unaccompanied minors, or SIFE’s Student w/ Interrupted Formal Education and struggling to figure out how to pay for it.    This is an annual problem, not a 2014 problem but is getting much more press this year because of the volume of children in such a short period of time.


CDOS awakening in State Island

Over the summer, I was part of a team across New York State collecting signatures for the Stop Common Core ballot line in New York State.  A few in the five boroughs struggled, too many people in New York City are just unaware of the impact of Common Core and the unending testing that goes along with it.

It looks like that is starting to change.  The meeting was scheduled for 9 AM on a work day, a tactic often used to make sure the masses cannot attend, but it happened, and people were there to complain for a two hour session.

One of the biggest marketing points of Common Core is to make students “College and Career Ready”.  Unfortunately, the NYSED and the Board of Regents made earning a diploma much harder for special education students.  Now, in order to earn any diploma, a student has to pass five regents, one math, one science, ELA, US History, and Global History and Geography.  There are some accommodations, a 55 score and the ability to power points from one exam to another, but students still need five regents.  The class of 2015 now has to

1) deal with a whole new, convoluted way of teaching;

2) students who were already trying to pass regents for the last three school years

3) tests that are poorly worded (ELA sample test questions with ambiguous wording)

4) an Common core aligned Algebra 1 test with a cut score of 33

I reiterate these points because the politicians in attendance may be listening, but still need to be clear on what the problem is.

“There should be something in place for students,” agreed Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore).

State Senator Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore) proposed offering incentives to businesses who hire special ed graduates for “meaningful” positions. “We need to refocus, to take a broader look at skill sets, and maybe offer incentives to employees to hire,” he said.

Will all due respect to State Senator Lanza and Assemblyman Joe Borelli, the immediate need for these students is to not “put something in place” or “offer incentives to businesses”.  The immediate need is to remove high stakes testing as the sole means to earn a diploma in New York State.

Never Knowing Which Way to Turn

I started this blog a few months ago at my husband’s suggestion.  I comment and tweet frequently on education issues and he suggested that I put some effort into consolidating my thoughts and reference materials into one concise area.  I did start, I put out a few posts, hit over 100 readers for one which seemed like a good start.  Everyday, I would see a story or two that would cause me to bang away angrily at my keyboard. Then another one, then another.  Soon, I had 20 blogs started but was not getting anything finished.  If you are following education issues, particularly in New York State, it is overwhelming.

Just this week, heck, just in the last couple of day.

Charter schools bussed students and parents to protest in favor of charter schools in NYC.

Parents protested against a potential charter school in Peekskill.

A member of the BOE in New Paltz brought to light very compelling information on some ethical flim-flam going on with the New York State School Boards Association.  Steve Greenfield was gracious enough to let me republish his findings here.

There was a spirited discussion on the TACKLING EXCESSIVE STANDARDIZED TESTING (TEST) ACT which is supposed to ease testing and append or amend ESEA (the parent legislation to NCLB) Short story, it is legislative slight of hand to make the voters think Congress is addressing education and testing concerns.

New York State schools have had to take in unaccompanied minors, with the heaviest intake on Long Island.  1014416_10152721736592866_8911823709027855314_n

This report does not list Putnam County, but I have been told that my school district has been impacted.   This is a huge issue for New York State schools.  Budgets are crushed by unfunded mandates, we have a 2% tax cap, and now students who will not be able to pass the minimum required Regents to graduate will be eligible to stay in school until 21 to keep trying.  I am all for seeing people fleeing tragic circumstances coming to the USA to build a better life, but how exactly are New York State taxpayers supposed to pay for this?  Or, what are our school districts going to have to cut to be able to pay for this?

A new program, SUNY Bridges, is under development.  “The Bridges Program is a program being developed by SUNY Orange at both its Newburgh and Middletown campuses to accommodate children with special needs that are either aging out from high school or are ready to graduate from high school, and are not likely due to their disabilities of successfully completing a 2 or 4 year college degree program, even with appropriate supports. The Bridges Program will fill a gap that doesn’t currently exist in the Hudson Valley.”   This sounds like a promising endeavor.  But, then I read this line.  “The idea is to work together with organizations like Occupations, Inc. and the business community to combine a college level program, work experience and independent living skills to avoid the need to place these kids in group homes or other institutional type programs, because they have no alternative after High School.”    And there it is.   If you are unable to pass 5 Regents and can only earn a CDOS and/or age of of high school without a diploma, why is the option a group home?  Humm.. how about, give them a path to a diploma so that they do have alternatives after High School?

So, there it is.  The issues in education today are tremendous.  Mistake after mistake, over powered by special interests, more facets and complications.  I am going to try to concentrate on issues related to CDOS and high stakes testing for graduation requirements as there are other bloggers out there with a much stronger voice then mine.  The best advice I have received on this endeavor, find your focus and stick with it.

Concerns about NYSSBA’s independence,

Reprinted with permission.

Please send to any school board members you know, and all interested parties, unless you’re in New Paltz — I’ve got that covered.

Fellow School Board Members of New York State, parents, taxpayers, and all concerned:

My name is Steve Greenfield, and I am a member of the New Paltz Board of Education, currently in my second term. The following is the result of research I have conducted into unusual activities being conducted by the New York State School Boards Association, and numerous press releases and public statements by NYSSBA officers and paid staff that run contrary to what our polls have indicated are our actual opinions, goals, and interests. This is not the opinion of the New Paltz Board Of Education, although I have brought it to their attention for consideration at our next meeting.

Concerns about NYSSBA’s independence, and its role as our advocate, came to me while reading the On Board newsletters and numerous press releases, and public statements issued by various officers and staff that I have found in the media. Over the last year there has been a preponderance of content supporting testing, Common Core, data mining, and related hardware and software purchasing as priorities for New York public schools. This stands in stark contrast to the widely disseminated information we’ve seen in which many, perhaps most, school boards are decrying and otherwise challenging those very themes, not seeking financial and training support in implementing them. We have also been subjected to a series of “pulse poll” questions that are actually push-polls, in that they are on themes upon which NYSSBA is already acting, as if seeking a citation of membership support after the fact.

The most significant case of this is a new NYSSBA subsidiary they created called “Student Achievement Institute,” a pro-testing, pro-data mining, pro-Common Core road show that we are invited to attend “free of charge,” that NYSSBA states on its materials is funded by The State of New York, and features Bill Daggett, a prominent education expert who is recently speaking on behalf of several corporate-backed astroturf “reform foundations” that have proliferated in recent years, as the principal presenter and “myth buster.” Tim Kremer, Executive Director of NYSSBA, confirmed to me via e-mail that this entire program is indeed state funded. Given that SED is currently in receipt of at least $19 million in private foundation funding from sources like the Gates and Helmsley foundations, it’s hard to know full sourcing on the funds. Mr. Kremer refused to provide breakdown details, despite the fact that, as a member, I have a right to full disclosure. These NYSSBA-promoted forums feature no range of input. They are sales pitches, and not even attempting to conceal that. The printed materials and slideshows are the products of Daggett, openly labeled as such, not NYSSBA, although NYSSBA distributes them through their (should be “our”) website. NYSSBA has accepted funding from New York State and corporate lobbyists to lobby us, rather than being the member-responsive lobby for us to those agencies. The operating model has been stood on its head. They are no longer our agency. Perhaps they never were, but let’s stick to the present, and what is known now. Here are the two documents in question:


Research also has me concerned about the name “Student Achievement Institute.” That name is in wide play in these corporate-backed astroturf foundations. For example: “Student Achievement Partners”

The literature summaries indicate they are all sourced to Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the rest of the usual interconnected suspects with dozens of names and shared funding sources. Example: Predominant Teacher Evaluation Program Will Reflect New Common Core State Standards
10/29/2013 | PR Newswire Helmsley Charitable Trust makes a $3 million grant to align Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching to the Common Core State Standards. “The project will include a field study of the FfT and the CCSS Instructional Practice Guides, a new set of tools developed by Student Achievement Partners to support teachers in making the instructional shifts called for by the CCSS.”

As you can see, these people have the money, and they get what they pay for. The Helmsley Foundation, cited for the $3 million grant above, is also a $3.3 million donor to the NY SED’s private “think tank” that is designing APPR and Common Core implemenation systems and manufacturing data with which to sell them. Perhaps you saw some of the articles about this, currently privately funded at $19 million, and rising.


and this one, which shows the scope of this program is national.

Compare and contrast these mainstream media investigatory accounts, that include the viewpoints of supporters and opponents, with the NYSSBA report on the exact same thing. To NYSSBA, this is the greatest thing since the invention of typesetting. Its gushing praise is cartoonish. But that should come as no surprise, given that NYSSBA is now on the same payroll as the people and institutions upon whom they’re reporting:

Lastly, so as not to be too burdensome with the full scope of my research thus far (as if I have not already risked that), I will include this NYSSBA press release from September 2nd, which refers to a Pulse Poll survey from July, in which the headline and the actual poll results are in complete contradiction with each other. This and other polls, including the one from last week that they invalidated after getting results they didn’t like, were intended to create after-the-fact validation for the Student Achievement Institute, which was founded in January with no membership input whatsoever, and to promote three related resolutions we are being asked to approve at the convention at the end of October that support additional Common Core training programs for teachers, and increased use of test scores in APPR. If you read the those three proposals (4, 9, and 10) in the resolution book), you will see that like any push poll, they claim membership survey support for why they’re being proposed, in the text of the resolution, rather than in the rationale section.

And just this week, NYSSBA was running a poll that asked us whether we felt Common Core would help, hurt, or do nothing for education in New York, and whether we felt most parents in our districts supported or opposed Common Core. The answers for both questions were negative at around 80%. NYSSBA removed and then reposted the poll, after which the results remained about the same. They then killed the poll, and put out an announcement that if any of us had seen the results, we shouldn’t talk about it, because NYSSBA considers them invalid because of the size of the turnout. However, the questions were very similar to those from the July poll — the one NYSSBA lied about in its Sept. 2nd press release — just inverted, in which questions about school board support for Common Core produced results at the same percentiles as those in the poll the cancelled, with 23 percent believing their board would benefit from training in Common Core data-based decision making, twenty percent would welcome board training in Common Core communication strategies, and 12 percent would like additional training in resource allocation for implementing Common Core. In the instance of the first poll, NYSSBA put out a false statement. They declared the second poll invalid and requested our silence on its results.

They shouldn’t get it. They should get an earful — from us, parents, taxpayers, everyone in the pipeline of who we are and what we do as school boards. All of our dues, several million dollars per year, come from our taxpayers. We have a legal fiduciary responsibility to assure that their money is going to what we think it’s for — advocacy for, and public information on the desires of the membership, not the manipulation of those desires, and misrepresentation of them to the SED, elected officials, and the public. NYSSBA is taking us for a ride. They are taking other people’s money and literature to lobby us on behalf of things those people want, instead of being our lobby to others on behalf of what we want. The two goals are in direct conflict with each other. We need to take a stand on this, and get that stand out to the other school boards, the press, and the public as quickly as possible, so that they may have this information before the last meeting at which boards can make decisions on how they will vote at the convention, and any other actions they may wish to take.

I am advising our board, and all boards, to vote no on resolutions 4, 9, and 10 at the NYSSBA convention at the end of the month (both are affirmations of Common Core — the first seeking additional training for teachers, and the second asking the state to make proficiency in Common Core a requirement of its teaching license examination), and to demand that a) NYSSBA’s “Student Achievement Institute” cease all activities, and be dissolved, and have all materials for Student Achievement Institute forums supplied by outside agencies returned to those agencies and deleted from the NYSSBA website; and b) refuse to pay further dues until all unexpended funds from outside sources, be they private donations, or the State of New York, that are dedicated to lobbying of our own membership on curricular and assessment matters, are returned, and a promise made that no more will be sought or accepted. As part of that, we should demand that NYSSBA open its books, so we can assess to what degree our agency is being funded by stakeholders in our decisions on their policies and products.

I ask that you consider this information, and action to take upon it, at your next meeting, so that it will be in effect in time for the convention, which starts on October 26th. You may also wish to consider joining in with resolution(s) from the floor related to these matters. Please disseminate this information widely. Thank you very much.

Steve Greenfield
Member, New Paltz BOE


While I was googling the agency to see if it had a masthead, I left out “NYSSBA” and just googled “Student Achievement Institute.” In so doing, I accidentally found what is probably the parent agency, a corporate front that’s doing this nationally.

We know that NYSED has taken $19 million to date in donations from the big non-profits that have been funding Common Core and charter school advocacy. And we know that NYSSBA created its own Student Achievement Institute with outside money, and not independently by seeing the need, and with its own money. The founding of the NYSSBA Student Achievement Institute, and its mission, parallel the organizational description below much too closely for me to assume it’s a coincidence. This is going to take a bit of work unraveling.

“‘The American Student Achievement Institute (ASAI) creates national, statewide and regional networks of schools and community organizations who change their culture (systems) and public will for the purpose of increasing Graduate

the % of students who master a rigorous curriculum, and
the % of community members who hold a postsecondary credential.

All ASAI initiatives include a series of leadership team workshops at which participants learn how to develop an organizational structure and engage educators and community organizations in a series of focused discussions leading to a data-based and accountable strategic plan. Teams are support by a robust online program management system that provides student data, a steering team manual, and discussion facilitation tools. After each local discussion, teams use the online system to submit various reports to ASAI which are evaluated with written feedback provided.”