When State Ed Leaders Go Rogue: Dangerous Conspiracy Theories of NY’s Betty Rosa

New Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, queen of the opt-out movement in New York State and heroine to teacher union leaders, is reaping widespread criticism for counseling parents to refuse state standardized tests for their children.

Even  Long Island’s Newsday dings her unprofessional approach towards accountability, noting that Rosa “threw gas on the fire rather than quelling it” when she said that if she was a parent (her children are grown) and if she wasn’t on the Board of Regents (she is), she would opt-out her children from tests that measure student proficiency in college and career-ready standards. (Also see the New York Times, Wall St. JournalChalkbeatDaily News, and the Times-Union.)

Rosa’s enthusiasm for undermining the state’s ability to track student learning is about adults, not children, specifically linking student growth data to teacher evaluations. The 74 quotes her answer to reporters about how exactly she would evaluate teacher effectiveness:

Asked what qualities she considers when evaluating teachers, Rosa stressed the ability to be “culturally sensitive” to students’ unique strengths and challenges shaped by their lives outside of school, she said.

“Many times people have great content and great skills, but many times it’s knowing that our children have come to school with many issues, complex issues, and so I look for someone who really understands what it takes,” she said.

In other words, poverty is destiny.

For a sense of how far New York has fallen, compare Rosa’s low expectations for students with outgoing Chancellor , who tells Politico,

“When people tell me, ‘Oh well, we’re going to lose minorities’ … are they telling me that minority children are not capable of learning to high standards? Because my answer to that is: ‘You give them access and opportunity to high-quality teaching, high-content curriculum, high-quality coursework, and they will meet the bar,’” Tisch said, rising above her usual sotto voce to stress the point. “It should be a standard of access and opportunity. That is a civil rights issue. Anyone who tells me differently — they are just really denying people what they deserve.”

In fact, Rosa is on record claiming that offering all students access to college and career-ready standards is a conspiracy intended to “create a crisis, to take the state test and turn it on its head to make sure the suburbs experience what the urban centers experience: failure.” This just happens to be NYSUT’s and opt-out allies’ primary talking point and these groups lobbied hard for Rosa’s ascendency.

Welcome, New York, to your new public education overseer. Quite a tumble from Gov. Cuomo’s erstwhile educational aspirations.

Achievement New York, a coalition that of civil rights organizations, business leaders, and ed reform groups, made a diplomatic suggestion:

“With today’s election, it is now time for the organizers of the so-called opt-out movement to finally take yes for an answer and stop urging children to refuse to take tests,” the group said. “And they must end their campaign to destroy higher standards.”

Now if only Ms. Rosa and her Regents would listen.

 

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

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Laura Waters
Laura was weaned on education and equity issues because her mom was a social worker and her dad was a social studies teacher in New York City public schools. She can no more get this passion out of her blood than she can her New York accent, even though she has lived in Central Jersey now for over 20 years. She and her husband have four children, and her youngest has multiple disabilities. Laura has been on her local school board for 12 years. She keeps education leaders on their toes at NJ Left Behind.

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