Tag Archives: Dream Act

Diane Ravitch for Governor!! (at least for two days) – Parsing the Politics of the Working Families Party Options.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Plato

This weekend the delegates to the Working Families Party convention will be gathering near Albany to select a candidate for Governor of New York State.

The NY Daily News reported,

The Working Families Party is eying education activist Diane Ravitch as its gubernatorial candidate should the liberal minor party decide to withhold its backing of Gov. Cuomo, a source told the Daily News Wednesday morning. The party has spoken to Ravitch, 75, about possibly being its nominee and she has expressed interest, the source said. “Either way, she’ll have a role at Saturday’s (WFP) convention,” the source said.

Within a few days Diane, on her blog, clarified,

In the past two days, there has been speculation in the media that I might be a candidate for governor on behalf of the Working Families Party.

I have not sought this designation nor am I running for any political office. There are many well-qualified candidates, and I expect that WFP will choose one of them.

Regular readers of this blog know that I had major surgery on May 9 to replace a knee that I injured when I fell in April. For the balance of this summer, I look forward to walking, not running!

We are sadden, and fully understand.

The Working Families Party is a spin off from the left wing of the Democratic Party that has become a major player primarily in local politics, with the strong backing of labor, especially local 1199 (hospital and health care workers union), they have swayed policy as candidates seek their endorsement.

In New York State, to remain on the statewide ballot parties must draw 50,000 votes in the November election. The WFP has a dilemma: endorsing the incumbent governor would usually assure the WFP of reaching the threshold to keep their spot on the ballot and in the negotiations they could extract this or that promise to support this or that policy; however, their members abhor the governor.

The polling data must be disturbing to the Cuomo insiders,

A poll of state voters conducted this month by Quinnipiac University found Mr. Cuomo with the support of 57 percent of voters, compared with 28 percent who backed his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

But in a hypothetical matchup with an unnamed Working Families Party candidate, Mr. Cuomo’s share of the vote shrank to 37 percent, compared with 24 percent for Mr. Astorino and 22 percent for the unnamed candidate.

Diane Ravitch on the ballot would assure the WFP of 50,000; in fact, she might have out polled the Republican candidate!!

The next in line is a law professor from Fordham, a scholar with no political experience or name recognition.

You can bet that as you read this blog the Cuomo power brokers, the WFP and their labor supporters are huddling. The two hundred or so WFP delegates are suddenly in the spotlight. To say that the Cuomo team is “arm-twisting” the WFP team is too polite a term – they are probably twisting other parts of the WFP anatomy.

Parents and teachers across the state are hopping board the “Anybody but Cuomo” bandwagon, and, for good reason.

* the 2% property tax cap has pushed hundreds of school districts to the edge of “educational bankruptcy,” the districts can no longer provide the basic services required by law.

* the Gap Elimination Adjustment (see excellent description here) is an enormous reduction in education funding that has yet to be restored – when the governor touts the increase in the current state budget he fails to acknowledge that the funding is still well below 09-10 levels.

* the Common Core debacle has angered parents from Buffalo to the East End of Long Island. Regents Cashin, Rosa, Phillips and Tilles urged the commissioner to phase in the move to the Common Core, to no avail. At the end of July the standards-setting process used the “teach to swim by pushing over the diving board” approach – and – lo and behold 2/3 of kids failed the test. As the commissioner tried to recoup on his “listening tour” the anger built, and, when under pressure from the legislature and governor the commissioner backed away and the Regents passed a dense document in an attempt to mollify parents – too late.

* the APPR, the principal-teacher evaluation plan is absurdly complicated, and apparently the outcomes have more to do with zip code than anything else, teachers fear the plan and principals find the results useless.

* the governor’s rejection of the de Blasio funding plan for Universal Pre-Kindergarten created a complex state funding formula that satisfies no one.

* the governor’s capitation to charter school dollars outraged public school advocates, parents and teachers, everywhere.

Aside from education the governor has been on the sidelines in the major initiatives of the WFP,

* the Dream Act would enable undocumented students who graduate from NYS high schools to be eligible for TAP (Tuition Assistance Program).

* the 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda legislation is perhaps the major item on the WFP platform, and is languishing in the Senate.

* public financing of elections.

The governor’s reply to criticism is to blame the Republicans in the State Senate, actually the Senate is run by a coalition of the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Caucus, a breakaway faction of Democrats that provide the swing votes to pass legislation. The governor has enormous power and influence and has flexed his muscles when he chose to flex his muscles. The Marriage Equality bill became law when the governor jumped in and garnered enough Republican votes last year.

One wonders about the team advising the governor – clearly one eye on the November gubernatorial election and one eye on positioning the governor in a possible run for the presidency in 2016, or, if a Republican wins in 2016, in 2020.

The goal for Andrew is to win with as large a majority as possible – hopefully north of 60% -a blowout, a landslide, winning in the cities, the suburbs and the rural areas, a victory so large and that it stretches across the political landscape – a victory that shows the nation that Andrew Cuomo’s appeal can become a national appeal, right of center on the economy, on fiscal issues and left of center on social issues.

His team might be right, the WFP might tell Andrew: if Women’s Equality, the Dream Act and further modifying the impact of Common Core become law we can endorse you – and – tomorrow endorse a “stand-in” pending the end of the legislative session.

The Cuomo team is skating on thin ice – the five million bucks hedge funders threw into TV to thrash de Blasio was a clear sign to Cuomo – either back us in Albany or we can do the same to you – and the governor blinked. His strategic blink deprived his opponents of millions of hedge fund dollars and antagonized parents and teachers. Did starving his opponent of charter schools dollars justify losing possible parent and teachers votes?

I have many friends who simply cannot pull the lever for Cuomo, the Republican candidate too far to the right to be an alternative. The Green Party? A WFP non-Cuomo?

Passing some liberal legislation may be enough to win over liberal voters to the Cuomo column, for others he is no longer a possibility.

I am saddened that Diane Ravitch is not running: I wanted to see the debate!!! It would have been so gratifying to watch Diane vivisect the pompous presidential candidate in waiting.

We can dream.

Maybe Diane can debate a Cuomo marionette …

Dreaming: Will NYS Pass the Dream Act Providing Tuition Assistance for Undocumented Students?

We are a nation of immigrants, of children of immigrants; grandchildren of immigrants, our roots are in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

A friend who loves to walk was visiting New York. As she walked across Brooklyn the neighborhoods change from Pakistani to Orthodox, to West Indian to Chinese to Russian, she could not believe that so many ethnic communities sat side by side.

“Do they get along?” she queried.

I smiled, “For the parents, benign neglect, for the kids, they sit next to each other in classrooms, for the rest of us, lots of ethnic restaurant choices.”

The strength of our nation, the future of our nation rests on the infusion of the collected knowledge of generation after generation of graduates with new ideas. As the 2013 CUNY graduates walk across the stage we note name after name from the far corners of the world. The winners of awards, the valedictorians, the salutatorians reflect the diversity of the city. We don’t know whether they are documented or undocumented, we know they are “the best and the brightest.”

To even the funding playing field at the federal and state level legislation provides grants and loans to students, except to students who are not documented.

New York State, for many years, has supported students in college through the Tuition Assistance Program, referred to as TAP, as long as the student is a citizen. For the one hundred thousand students in the state who are undocumented, TAP grants are not available.

On Monday the New York State Board of Regents convened a number of panels at their monthly meeting to discuss the inequity in the TAP law. Four panelists, all of whom came to the nation as young children, told their stories and the obstacles to achieve their dream, the American dream, a college diploma and a path to citizenship.

Under the proposed law,

To qualify for TAP under New York’s proposed Dream Act, undocumented students would have to either have graduated from a New York high school, which they attended for at least two years, or received a New York State GED. Applicants would have to apply to a post-secondary institution within five years of receiving their high school diploma or GED.

The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), a state agency, clearly sets forth the requirement for TAP applicants. The opening sections:

• A United States citizen or eligible non-citizen (i. e., Green Card or equivalent)
• Be a legal resident of New York State

In order to remedy the flaw bills were introduced into the legislature, the Moya-Peralta bill.(read the bill here), On Tuesday, May 21st the Assembly passed the bill, the first step, hopefully, to create a law. “This legislation,” says the Assembly presser, “… would make New York one of only four states – including Texas, New Mexico and California – to offer state financial aid to immigrant students.”

All the Republican members of the Assembly voted against the bill.

On the Senate side the future of the bill is unclear. The Senate leadership is divided, the Independent Democratic Conference, led by Jeff Klein and the Republican leader, Dean Skelos, have expressed weak support but question the source of the funding.

Governor Cuomo has been totally silent, and, the interim report of the Cuomo Commission on Educational Reform made no recommendations. The clock is ticking – the legislature will adjourn around June 20th.

The Regents deserve accolades: the panels that they hosted both explained the details of the DACA (Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals declaration issued by President Obama, the plight of undocumented students and highlighted the successes in one sector of schools – the International High School Network and the Newcomer High Schools.

If high school graduation rates and College and Career Readiness rates are appalling for English Language learners in New York State, why are the International and Newcomer schools so successful?

The school and support organization leaders described a methodology: teams of teachers working in a highly collaborative setting with the authority to create curriculum, teachers who are partners in every aspect of the school, schools that design their own assessment tools, and, a not-for-profit support organization that both advocates for the schools, organizes and provides professional development,

In a school system plagued by top-down management, endless conflict between the school district leadership and the union, parents marginalized, a dysfunctional system that continues to disintegrate, islands of sanity survive and blossom.

Regent Cashin asked how the Internationals would tweak the Danielson Frameworks to address teachers in English Language learner classrooms. A simple answer: the teachers are working on an iteration of the Frameworks to make them relevant to the student they teach. Not consultants, not Tweed bureaucrats, teachers.

Regent Young mused whether the highly collaborative culture of the International Schools/Newcomer schools could be a model for all schools?

One can only hope that the next mayor and the next chancellor will create a culture of collaboration among all stakeholders, a culture that welcomes parents and respects teachers, a culture that honors and supports teachers and school leaders … a nirvana (In general terms nirvāṇa is a state of transcendence involving the subjective experience of release from a prior state of bondage).