SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Assemblyman David Buchwald Voted Yes on the Budget

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Assemblyman David Buchwald Voted Yes on the Budget

On February 23 of this year I attended a meeting of of parents, board members, teachers and
administrators at Harrison High School in Westchester County. This meeting was not held just those of Harrison but for all throughout the Sound Shore and Central Westchester. The meeting was facilitated by Dra Louis Wool, Superintendent of the Harrison Central School District and several local politicians were there as guests.

Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Mount Kisco), State Senator George Latimer (D-Port Chester), and Assemblyman Steven Otis (D-Rye) were in attendance. I was quite impressed. In fact I am quite impressed with Senator Latimer who I have met and commiserated with on several occasions on the state of education in New York. Even better, I live in Senator Latimer's district as well as Assemblyman Buchwald's district. I felt as if Albany came to the masses that night and there was true concern among the three. Well among the two, for I knew Senator Latimer's positions well.

But I was even more impressed by Assemblyman Buchwald. I have had no interaction with him in the past only when he called me from the floor of the Assembly last year to explain to me why he was voting for the budget in which Eva was given everything but the kitchen sink. I disagreed with him but respected his candor and the fact that he called me back. And where he called me back from.

As reported by the Harrison Review on February 26, 2015 Assemblyman Buchwald shared to the crowd assembled in the Harrison High School cafeteria that evening that he had an issue with why there would be diminished evaluation weight on local school administrators and why so much emphasis on the evaluations of outside administrators who are unfamiliar with the community in teacher evaluation.

But more amazingly Buchwald said;
“None of these percentages seems to be based on an investigation of what’s actually best for our school districts.”

He heard how with in Harrison how we are suffering under the draconian cap and holding back of monies from Governor Andy. How the student population is rising and ten teachers are needed but we only have enough to hire one.

Assemblyman Buchwald was good enough to speak to a member of The Crack Team yesterday and shared why he voted yes on the budget. The jist of the theme that we got in our analysis of the Assemblyman's words that it would have been a lot worse.

The Assemblyman shared how the budget negotiations in this state are difficult because the governor holds that cards and with a Senate that is not on board with the Assembly compromise must be made.

He said that he did try to "push back, and was seeking the "best arrangement possible," and how he helped "push to let the Board of Regents" make the final determination in the new and draconian bill passed last week.

While we thank the Assemblyman for his candor and taking the time to speak we must fully disagree with him.

No matter how you slice the new evaluation system it is still 50% based on tests. This is not to help pedagogy or learning but only a way to best jam teachers.  The outside evaluator which the Assemblyman lauded is a problem waiting to happen much as we mocked it yesterday on these pages.

The Assemblyman told us that anything is possible. The evaluator can be another principal from a school within the district or even a neighboring school district. But stop, think, how can this work. Don't these administrators have schools to run themselves? Shouldn't someone doing an evaluation on a teacher know that teacher? Know the students that teacher is working with? What if it is a small school district with only three schools--Elementary, Middle, and High--would a elementary principal be best to evaluate a high school teacher and vice versa?  This is akin to asking a art critic who specializes in Modernism to evaluate the art of someone who was trained and paints in the mode of the Hudson River School.

Basing evaluation on junk science, Value Added Measurements, has been shown not to work and the +/- scale far exceeds what truly happens in the classroom. How can anyone using high stakes tests not consider the multitude of variables that occur in a child? How can a Governor who claims he is for the kids not see and do something about the multitude of children living in poverty across the state and not see how that can affect their learning? He can't, he is beholden to the hedge funders and his own hatred towards teachers.

Assemblyman Buchwald, I thought you were different. You could have done the noble thing and voted no. You knew it was going to pass but you had a chance to safe yourself. Getting back to your quote from above, know who knows best about what is actually best for school districts? The stakeholders of said school districts. Not Albany, not a governor with issues, not hedge funders, and certainly not politicians.

My advice, come and listen to the teachers and the parents. We are fed up. Come and talk to me informally. Come on WFAS next Tuesday morning with me.

On a personal note, I am still awaiting a response from the Assemblyman of emails I had sent on April 28 and May 12 of last year. Maybe he could see why teacher tenure and other protections are so important.

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