Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hedge Hogs and Evil Moskowitz

Almost five years ago, a fateful agreement was reached. An ambitious then–attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, walked into New York's "power breakfast" hub, the Regency Hotel, and shook hands with Education Reform Now's Joe Williams, the man who could help him secure the hedge-fund community's blessing. Williams told Cuomo that they "were looking for a leader on our particular issue," and according to Williams the attorney general's response was a good one. Since that breakfast, millions of hedge-fund dollars have poured into the governor's coffers, and education-reform stalwart Andrew Cuomo has never looked back.
Thus, over a breakfast .... one man's ambition and a few other men's power overrode the decades-long demands of millions of New Yorkers for fully funded public schools. But what does such a profoundly anti-democratic approach mean for the state's public school system? In less than two weeks, when the state legislature votes on Cuomo's proposals, New York's public-school students will find out.... The Nation, March 2015
And so it shall come to pass.

despite New York's progressive reputation, its school-district funding-distribution system is actually one of the most regressive nationwide, similar to that of states like Texas, North Carolina and Missouri...

Phew! At least Cuomo hasn't turned us into Mississippi --- yet.

The Times put the Success Academy horror chambers story we reported on yesterday (Video of Eva Bund Rally, NY Times Piece on Eva and Success)
on the front page. That story doesn't even scratch the surface. Apparently the reporter didn't talk to people who are forced to share space with the avaricious Eva -- people who observe evidence of brutality all the time. We'll comment more on the Eva piece -- what scares me is how many public school teachers want this system for their kids.

The Nation had a good piece on the hedge hog billionaires with this graphic:

Why Do Hedge Fund Executives Suddenly Care About Poor Kids?
Why the New York hedge fund community has rallied around the issue of education reform, specifically in support of charter schools and against teacher tenure, is more complicated. Their policy prescriptions—basing 50 percent of teacher evaluations on student test scores, for instance—are not in any way grounded in mainstream education research.
"The problem is that Cuomo's backers aren't paying much attention to the people who actually understand how Value-Added Modeling works," explains Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig, an education policy researcher at California State University. "Education statisticians have come out many times saying these models are being used inappropriately and are unstable because other things happen in students' lives outside of the teachers they encounter. When a kids' parents in a high needs district are deported, and their achievement plummets, this actually has nothing to do with the teacher."
Vasquez Heilig added that the reform proposals seem founded on a desire to destroy the development of long-term professional educators, rather than any empirical analysis: "We know 70 percent of teachers will bounce between high performing and low performing from year to year. So this is creating an impossible high stakes testing gauntlet between a young excited teacher and their path to quality, veteran expertise. If you're looking for a cheap churn-and-burn teaching force, this is your policy, but if you want experienced, qualified teachers, committed to a schools' long-term success, this is a disaster."

From a purely business standpoint, however, such cost-effective education reform proposals do make sense for the hedge-fund community, especially given the alternative education reform option: the legally required equitable funding of New York public schools, as mandated by the state's highest court in 2007. Low-income New York school districts haven't received their legally mandated funding since 2009 and the state owes its schools a whopping $5.9 billion, according to a recent study by the labor-backed group Alliance for Quality Education. Yet somehow in this prolonged period of economic necessity, billionaire hedge-fund managers continue to enjoy lower tax rates than the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers.
As a recent Hedge Clippers report pointed out, the hedge-fund community has achieved these gains over the last decade and a half by buying political influence and carving out absurd breaks and loopholes in the New York state tax code. Since 2000, 570 hedge fund managers and top executives have poured $39.6 million into the campaign coffers of New York state politicians. Thus, despite New York's progressive reputation, its school-district funding-distribution system is actually one of the most regressive nationwide, similar to that of states like Texas, North Carolina and Missouri.

Read it all:

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