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Snapshots Of Lunacy

To the editor,
As children across New York are now in the middle of Governor Cuomo’s testing season, there is no shortage of education discussion in the media.

The other night on television, I watched NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tish stating that New York parents deserve “…a snapshot, that’s all the tests are, of their child’s development…”

As a parent and an educator, I could not agree more, parents certainly should have snapshot of their child’s development.

Unfortunately, what students in NY have been enduring for the last thirteen years is a snapshot of a tragedy.

A snapshot of a child’s progress does not cost tens of millions of dollars to produce; it does not take 6 days and up to 9 hours of students’ time.

A snapshot does not take school districts (taxpayers) dozens of hours, costing thousands of dollars to score before they are sent to Albany to be “rescored” and manipulated.

And a snapshot certainly should not account for 50% (as proposed by the governor) of any teacher’s evaluation.

A true snapshot would be developed by educators that actually teach children.

If a snapshot was truly what the Chancellor was interested in, then perhaps the state should go back (reformers hate anything to do with looking back, especially if you are talking about something that made sense) to the IOWA assessments?

What did/ would that look like, you ask?

One hour on a given day for ELA, one hour the following day for math, with no test prep involved.

Both are scantron sheets so families could get results back in weeks, not months, and parents would have a comparison of how their child scored in comparison to other students across the country.

Children would not be branded like cattle with a score of 1-4, and school calendars could return to a focus on students rather state mandates.

Lastly, the costs would be pennies on the dollar compared to the tens of millions New York (and many other states) is paying Pearson for their shoddy products.

What if the governor adopted my suggestions (even I’m laughing), whatever could he do with the millions of dollars in savings?

He might start with giving students back the choice to choose between a regents diploma and a local one.

Then he could invest fifty million or so in CITI (formerly BOCES) programs that could help provide trade jobs for those who are not cut out for or choose not to go to college.

Perhaps another ten million or so could go to the tragically underfunded Department of Social Services, and a few more million to examine entitlement abuse and reform.

Any of the above suggestions are certainly worthy of debate.

What is not debatable in my opinion is that if state officials keep spending hundreds of millions on bogus snapshots, the picture for our children is going to be bleaker than it is now, and that would be a very scary snapshot indeed.

William Cahill III
Oswego NY