Panel Transcript-Boosting Accountability


MR. MCMAHON: All right thank you very much, I’ll begin to introduce our panel now. To wrap up our session today, we have a distinguished panel of leaders and experts in different areas of education here to talk about the theme of our forum. I’ll introduce the panelists and then our moderator in alphabetical order and then I’ll let our moderator take it from there in the order he chooses.

To begin with we’re pleased to have with us, Carl T. Hayden. Mr. Hayden was elected chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents on three separate occasions, serving in that capacity from 1995 to 2002. A trial lawyer for more than 35 years with the Ziff Law Firm of Elmira,  Mr. Hayden graduated from Hamilton College in 1963, served four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Cornell University Law School in 1970 where he was president of the Law Student Association. He’s been active in many community and school activities in the Elmira area.

Richard C. Iannuzzi was elected president of the New York State United Teachers in April 2005, he’s at the end of the table here. Mr. Iannuzzi taught elementary school in the Central Islip Public Schools for 34 years, including fourth grade for the last 20 of those years. He was active in the teachers’ union throughout his career starting, his official biography notes, with the strike that his union went on in his very first year on the job in 1970. A graduate of CUNY’s Brooklyn College, Mr. Iannuzzi earned a master’s degree from Hofstra University and a Labor Study Certificate from Cornell University.

Next on the panel and in the middle of the table there, is Timothy G. Kremer. He’s the executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, a position to which he was appointed in August 1998 after 19 years at the Ohio School Boards Association where he was Deputy Director. Tim has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Ohio State University where he specialized in human resource administration and organizational development. He also earned a bachelor’s degree from Kent State majoring in political science.

Thomas Rogers is the executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, the statewide professional association for chief school officers. Dr. Rogers received his Doctoral and Master’s Degrees in Educational Administration at Columbia University Teachers College. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Primate Anatomy from the University Of Buffalo. He is an adjunct Professor at the Lally School of Education at the College of Saint Rose. A frequent lecturer and writer, he serves on numerous boards and committees.

And here at the end of the table we have Sol Stern, my colleague, a contributing editor to City Journal and a Manhattan Institute senior fellow. Sol writes passionately on education reform and his writings on that topic have helped shape the terms of the current debate in New York City. A long time journalist who also served as a senior staffer to the president of the New York City Council, Mr. Stern grew up in the city, and graduated from Stuyvesant High School and the City College of New York. He received an MA in political science from the State University of Iowa and did further graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley. His wife teaches in a public junior high in New York City and has two children who attend public school.

Last but not least now we have our moderator, my friend David F. Shaffer who is president of the Public Policy Institute, the research affiliate of the Business Council of New York State. He’s also a corporate secretary of the Business Council and among his many activities there that have special relevance to today’s discussion, David has been in the lead staff responsibility for the Business Council’s education reform agenda. And on a loaned-services basis he’s led a management review of the New York State Education Department and he served on the Governor’s Commission on Education Reform, better known as the Zarb Commission.

Before joining the Business Council, David worked for six years as head of the Albany Capitol Bureau of the Associated Press. He holds degrees in political science from Duke University and from the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the State University of Albany.

So, with no further ado, thank you very much, David I’ll give it over to you.

MR. DAVID SHAFFER:  As E.J. has pointed out, I’m a broken-down former journalist, and therefore I don’t know the alphabet. So I’m going to go out of order a little bit and start with my friend Tim Kremer because he’s the first person from whom I ever heard about the concept of value-added testing. Which is now what the governor wants to do and as Paul says, it seems to be the thing – the most promising method to use.

I think it was about six years ago that Timothy first mentioned it to me and I’m curious whether in the intervening years, we heard that Florida, sort of, half uses it. Is anybody whole using it and how’s it working?

MR.TIMOTHY KREMER: Yes, there are several states that have built this into their statewide accountability system, but before I say that, I want to thank our host for having us. I really do believe that the dialog that’s taking place here is actually surprising me as to how much we agree. And we should have more of these sorts of opportunities, so thank you very much.

We look at accountability as really the main purpose for a Board of Education, that’s why we exist. And we definitely support what the governor has proposed here and we’re definitely excited about the value-added concept being included. Indeed I probably was one of the people who first introduced the concept of value-added to New York. I had spent time in Ohio and Ohio now has in place a statewide system whereby their accountability measures are based on value-added measurements. And people who I had worked with in the past turned me on to this (and) said ‘you need to be, in their terms, this is rural Ohio people, you need to be the bell cow at New York.’ And that meant I needed to be, kind of, the lawyer who’s going to lead the charge, and I did. I brought some people here to New York and did a variety of briefings among people.  And so, I have to say, I’m very pleased to see that this concept has made its way as far as it has.

Basically what the value-added piece will do is going to measure individual student progress from year-to-year. It controls for certain factors both in and out of the classroom. And what I really like about it is it also sets forth a trajectory as to what it’s going to take for that student to reach the learning standards to graduate from high school. Some kids might be on a kind of, a slide- and-glide type path where others might be a more-steep path and it sets forth that.

Done over a several-year period with some sort of longitudinal studies, we do see patterns of very strong performance. You can guess – I shouldn’t say guess – you can predict what the performance is going to be from year-to-year and you can measure performance from year-to-year both at the district level, the school level, the cohort level, the teacher level and the student level. It’s very good for measuring student progress.

The experts that I know in this field tell me that they would issue some caution as to whether or not it’s good for measuring individual teacher evaluation, so I’d be careful on that, but I would tell you that in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the two states that have this ongoing statewide right now, the teachers want this information. They use it for diagnostic purposes, they use it because they want to know ‘how well am I doing with my kids, what can I do differently in the future.’ It’s very good for measuring students from all kinds of backgrounds. I think it’s exceptionally good for kids who come from a disadvantaged background because you can show progress toward the standard. These people might not get any – you know we talked about the AYP piece a moment ago. These schools might be identified as schools in need of improvement, never get any credit for the progress they’re making with kids who come from a very serious educational deficiency.

Whereas it also is good for measuring kids who you would expect would always be above the standard; your AP students. Because what you can set forth there is how much are we going to set the growth goal for that student from year-to-year. So, you’re pushing all these kids on a trajectory upward and I like that.

We have here in this state a pilot project underway with the Capital Region BOCES who has mentioned New York City has a value-added system in place. That is true. We have 15 districts in year number two of our value-added pilot project. It’s very inexpensive to process the value-added information and the costs for it are very reasonable and I really don’t think that we need to reinvent the wheel. I don’t have anything to sell, but I do think that there are processes in place already in other states that we could use here in New York.

MR. SHAFFER: That’s interesting, thank you. Dick Iannuzzi on my right is the only one up here who was actually teaching, the second grade I think. Right? When all this stuff started. First when New York changed its testing system and then as NCLB rolled and I’d just be interested in hearing your perspective on, not just your personal experience but obviously your members’ experience on what the impact of all this has been on teachers and where you think this is taking them.

MR. RICHARD IANNUZZI:  Well, let me start by also thanking everyone here for a dialog. I think the governor has put out a budget that may take very real commitment. And that means that we all have to be prepared to sit at the same table and ask the very hard questions.  And that is clearly why I am in this room today.

I’ll correct you when you say that I taught fourth grade, now that’s critical because the commissioner, and I know that whenever I’m sitting with the commissioner, I always get to say to him, remember I gave every sampler you ever sent back to an elementary school. I gave every test you ever sent to an elementary school, so …

You know I think that accountability is actually something that teachers welcome, despite the fact that we’re often criticized about where we are in accountability.

We live and breathe accountability in the classroom. The first day of school you walk in to that classroom and if you are not accountable with respect to classroom management skills and content awareness, those students will let you know it very, very early in the very first day.  So, you are accountable in that way. You are accountable to your administration who comes in to your classroom and observes you. You have a annual professional performance review for every school district in this state that has to be followed that evaluates teachers on a regular basis. You have teacher improvement plans to stay with. You have parents who react to what you do send home and what the children claim you were saying in the classroom. So that you have to be accountable to those statements on a fairly regular basis. You have to be accountable to the press that prints just about everything that might just get a rise out of the local community. You have to be accountable to your peers because if you are teaching in fourth grade and you’re giving the test and everybody knows the scores are in the newspaper, so your peers put as much pressure on you as anyone else to be sure your school performs well.

You are accountable to tests whether those tests are accurate or inaccurate and I clearly agree with Tom Carroll in terms of most of his points on issues with testing in New York and the way it’s done. Problems with the delivery of the tests, problems with the teachers marking their own tests. There are lots of issues around those tests. So accurate or inaccurate the teacher is responsible for it.

You know it’s a myth that teachers do not welcome accountability. Accountability is just something that’s there all the time. We live and breathe it and we’ll deal with it as it grows. And just on the value-added, I’m certainly not going to be the one to define the difference but I tend to think that as we talk about growth models and the more I hear about growth models, it makes more sense than simply value-added, but that’s, you know …

The problem actually is you just haven’t seen one as both speakers have clearly defined. We haven’t seen one that makes me terribly comfortable to say, you know, we’ve found the panacea to move with.

Okay, thank you.

MR. SHAFFER:  My long-time friend Chancellor Emeritus Hayden. There’s one detail about his background that E.J. didn’t mention. He’s the only trial lawyer ever to have won the Business Council’s Corning Award – [laughter]- which we gave to him not because of those lawsuits over workers’ comp but because of his extraordinary record in leading New York’s transformation into a state that did have testing that was used for accountability in the school system – at a time when everyone was saying testing could never possibly work. All it would ever do is take all the creativity out of the classroom, they said.  Everybody would turn to doing nothing but teaching to the test. And I know you rode out that storm of criticism and I would be interested, Carl, in hearing your perspective on it after the fact.

MR. CARL HAYDEN:  Well, I think you ride out that storm of criticism because you have to. At the end of the day the public demands and the public ought to demand a system of accountability that in which they can have confidence and that means that it has to be one that’s objectively verifiable, it has to be rigorous and it has to be consistent across the entire state.

We’re really blessed in New York that we’ve had a history of Regents Exams since Sol was a boy, and- [laughter]- that means they have facial validity. The public does indeed have confidence in the Regents Exam System and what it means is that New York did not have to fight the fight about high stakes examinations that other states had to fight.

From my vantage point, David, if you would ask me what we did in the 12 years that I was a member of the Board of Regents that was most important and we can obviously debate the implications of everything we did, but from my vantage point what was most important were really two things: The first was to eliminate the local diploma, to eliminate the low standards route to graduation. To eliminate that part of the student cohort who had an educational experience that consisted of being exposed to a low-standards curriculum and to be – and who were then allowed to graduate by completing, successfully completing, a low-standards examination.

And when you talk about graduation rates, I think you need to be careful. I was struck by Dr. Peterson’s comment with respect to graduation rates. Be careful what you wish for, in the realm of graduation rates, because it’s no problem getting everyone to graduate. You make it dumb enough they all walk across the stage. The real question is what stands behind the credential, and while I know that Sol and others are big proponents of the market and that’s a perfectly reasonable position, you have to be a little bit careful about the way in which the market incents educational process. And that’s a convoluted way of observing that the market demand in 1990, the year I became a member of the Board of Regents, was generating 62% graduation rate in the state of New York for students holding a local diploma, a low-standards diploma and only 38% a Regents diploma.

So, where the market wanted to go was dumber and dumber because their idea was if I put my kid in a local program, my child will get a higher grade and therefore be a more attractive candidate for admission to college. That was the psychology. All right. So, from my vantage point eliminating the trap door that the system had at its disposal for shunting off to the side all of the kids who were not adept learners to the point that the great majority of the kids were on this low standards track, eliminating that was a tremendous blow for quality and for equity, because guess who those kids were in the main? That’s where the poor kids went. They were predominantly children of color, they were predominantly coming from urban and rural settings. Many of them at risk. So, that was number one. And David number two before I get in to a full-blown filibuster here, was the report card.

Demanding that the schools account for their results, however imperfect the methodology, demanding that the schools account for their results was a very significant stroke because among other things it stoked the public dialog. And for the first time empowered parents with the kind of information that had heretofore been the province of only the insiders. And I think the character and the quality of the debate about public education was transformed as a result of that.

MR. SHAFFER:  Thank you. I’ve often wished I had been in Tom Rogers’ office the day the governor announced that one of the proposals he was going to float was a firing clause in the clause of all the school superintendents – just in the hopes that I could have collected a nickel for every phone call that came in.  [Laughter]

But Tom, I want to ask you to talk about that in a positive way, whether than respond directly to the proposal. What could the state do to help superintendents drive performance improvements?

DR.THOMAS ROGERS:  Well, first of all I’d also echo my panelists comment that we appreciate this opportunity to talk and I’m struck by the fact that as Tom Carroll’s job looks more and more like a superintendency, his writing makes more and more sense to me so … [laughter] We’re also very supportive of almost everything that’s in there and your analysis of the problems with the tests, echo a lot of things that we’ve been saying for about ten years now.

So, with that as sort of, a preparatory remark to respond more directly, we didn’t get a lot of calls about that on the day that it was proposed because most of the superintendents that I’ve talked to since, have said, well I can all ready be fired. And in fact one superintendent said to me, “I sign a contract for excellence every three years and if the board doesn’t want me anymore they don’t have to renew that contract and we’re ready to go and look somewhere else.” And just one last thought on this.  The proposal assumes, of course, that if you threaten someone they’ll do better and that the only thing that was keeping them from doing better was the lack of a threat. And I think that’s probably misguided and it also presumes that jobs in low-performing schools are so attractive that if you fire one person there’s a line of ten waiting to get in behind them. And I’m not just talking about superintendencies. I’m talking about principal jobs and teaching jobs as well.  So, I think we have to recognize that as we construct the system of aligned incentives and consequences that we keep in mind, a way of incentivising working in places that are otherwise challenging.  And so, I would think that a way to move forward from here is to say the governor has opened up the door on accountability and it’s a pretty robust door. Someone called it bold, and that gives us a pretty bold playing field to talk about ideas.

I don’t think that a system will be structured that can really make the kinds of changes Dr. Peterson was talking about unless you have aligned incentives throughout the system.  So, about 10% of superintendents in the state have performance agreements in their contracts.

If you raise student achievement X% you get X dollars at the end of the year. And I talked to them, I said, is this is good idea?  Should we be encouraging this for more superintendents?  And they say, “Well here’s what happens in practice. If I push too hard on the principals or on the teachers eventually I get to a point where there’s kickback and they say, ‘look we’re not doing this just so you can make your bonus.'” And as a result there’s only so far they can go. So, if we have a system where rewards are aligned throughout the system and consequences are aligned throughout the system it’s more likely that leaders will be able to lead.

I think superintendents would be ready to trade sole accountability for sole authority, but no one’s really put that on the table. So, recognizing that, that’s not going to be put on the table, then you have to say, okay what are things short of that, that you can do that align those incentives. And I think that the way to structure that is to look first at having the right trigger, and the right trigger would not be triggered by the amount of an aid increase but rather by whether or not there is low performance in that school. Those are the schools that we want to focus our attention on, not high performing schools that happened to have gotten a lot of money. Because as Tom said, these contracts will be onerous so it will be tough to do. We should put that energy where it’s needed most.

The second is, once we identify the right schools to deal with, we should have a system that’s of accountability that is both a reward system and a consequence system and those rewards can be structured in a lot of ways and I think there would be a lot of ideas about how that works, but they have to be similar.  I, as a superintendent need to be held accountable for the same measured goal that everyone else is being held accountable for. So, one person’s goal can’t be longevity and another person’s goal can’t be making the board happy and a third person’s goal has to be raising the test scores. We all have to have the same goals so that we’re working together in concept.

And then if we identify a system of consequences, we need to stratify that so that the first consequences are remedial consequences. They’re corrective consequences. Because we can’t assume that the reason why things aren’t going well is simply because folks don’t want to do the job. We have to assume that maybe they don’t have the skills to do the job, maybe it’s a place that’s so undesireable to work that there are very few certified teachers available. We have to find a way to give them the knowledge and skills to succeed. That’s the first effort and we should give that intervention time to succeed. Then make the decision that we’ve put the supports in place, we have the right people in place, the structures still aren’t improving, then we can talk about consequences that are punitive in nature as opposed to corrective in nature.

So, I think there’s a way to take the governor’s initial idea, flush it out an awful lot more and be sensible about ways that it ramps up over time, but that we look at this as a way of encouraging good performance instead of punishing bad performance until the end.

MR. SHAFFER:  Thank you.  Sol Stern a question for you. Do you think – and I’m drawing here on some things you’ve written about – do you think we can trust the system ultimately to be honest in assessing its results and being forthcoming in trying to respond to them?  A one-word answer will not do.  [Laughter].

MR.SOL STERN: You’re not going to get a one-word answer. First of all, again, also thanks for inviting me, I see I’m the only Southerner on this panel.  I come from this little town about? 130 miles south of here, which is going to eat up practically all of the money that the governor’s all ready laid on the table.  So – and I also, you know – I’m a New Yorker so, I’m going to be contentious. I don’t think we should all be singing Kumbaya about the future of education in this state. In fact, you know, what I notice is basically since No Child Left Behind and probably before that? any politician who ever comes forward with a new education program, of course, uses the word accountability as a mantra. And I don’t mean to be flippant about this, and in fact, Paul’s presentation was absolutely brilliant when you get down to the actual details. But two facts: Accountability itself never taught a child to read; and second if you’re a taxpayer, when you hear the word accountability, now, the first thing you ought to do is start reaching for your wallet.

And that’s – and I wanted to give a perspective on what we’re talking about in the governor’s program, I want to give you some inconvenient truths, I know I won’t get an Academy Award for it, about what happened in New York City over the last five years.

I mean it is the biggest school district in our country and as I said is going to eat up most of this extra funding. And I loved the governor’s speech. And I agree with Tom’s analysis of it. They were wonderful words and I hope everything comes true, but I remember an almost identical speech when we had mayoral control in New York City. In fact it was almost four years, exactly four years ago on Martin Luther King Day, in 2003. The mayor came forward and said we’re going to completely turn – you know, change the culture, used every phrase that we heard today. Change this dysfunctional culture. No more, excuses for failure. We’re going to hold everyone accountable.  We’re not just going to throw bad money after good money. We’re going to get a bigger bang for the buck. And the biggest reason of that is, for the first time ever, you’re going to have someone to hold accountable for failure. Me.

Okay, what in fact happened after that? The first thing that the chancellor of the New York City school system did, was put in to place a reading program top down in every school in the city that has absolutely no track record and has never been studied, doesn’t have one single, what Paul would call a gold standard test to support it, balance literacy and he has disdained reading programs that are supported by 30 years of scientific research conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human development. What’s the result?

Well, the first result is, as I said, reach for your wallet, and I don’t have power point. I didn’t go to Paul’s program at Harvard and learn it, so I just, you’ll have to take my word for it.  Here’s a little chart, you know, and what we see in this from the New York City Department of Education.

We went in total spending since the mayor announced his reforms, state and city funds alone went up by close to four billion – the total budget went from $12 billion, you see all the bar graphs going way, way, way up. In three years New York City funding for education went from a little over almost $14 billion up to $18 billion. That’s a $4 billion increase in three years.

What did we get for it? Sorry, you’ll have to take my word for it. Grade four English. It’s a really ironic picture. The mayor of course, the mayor and the chancellor claim huge historic gains. Actually if you look and I have a chart, this is from the state Education Department comparing New York City reading scores from 1999 to 2006. The scores – the average increase for the first four years on that when we didn’t have “accountability” when we were under a dysfunctional board of ed with all these chancellors that didn’t know what, you know, you know, we’re not going to reform the system, scores went up by an average of about 3.4% a year.

Under accountability and mayoral control they went up by about half that much. They went up a little but about half that much. Is that worth $4 billion?

Even more appalling, grade eight English. You look at ’99 to 2006, grade eight English scores for those seven years, including the four years under mayoral control went up by 1.5 %. (In) ’99, 35.3% of eighth graders could read at grade level; (In) 2006, 36.6%. If 36.6% of your eighth graders read at grade level, what are we even arguing about graduation rates?

If kids can’t read at grade level, they’re not going to succeed in high school. So, whatever happened to accountability? Well, you know what the mayor says? This is what we got from mayoral control, and I was a supporter of mayoral control. After that wonderful speech, I was impressed, just like I’m impressed with the governor’s speech.

I did an article for City Journal titled Two Cheers for Mayor Bloomberg? and now I’m one of his biggest critics. But what does he say about mayoral control? How do we hold the mayor accountable, the people who run the system accountable? Well, the mayor said, basically accountability is one election one time, because we have term limits. And he said, if you don’t like what I’m doing on education, then vote me out. But what if I don’t like what he’s doing on education but I like Freddy Ferrer even less? What do I do then? Actually the mayor actually answered the question. What he said was, and I quote him literally, he said, “Well, you can boo me at parades.”  [Laughter]
So, where is the accountability and that’s why you’re now beginning, finally, to see a protest movement in New York City. It started – unfortunately it didn’t start over the fact, which it should, people should be in the streets over the fact the eighth grade reading is still at 36.6%. It started like these things always do because one of the brilliant consultants that the mayor hired to save money, wound up leaving, you know, redesigned the bus routes and wound up leaving thousands of kids standing on street corners in the middle of the winter waiting for the buses that didn’t come.

So, let me come back to Governor Spitzer.  What’s the lesson of this again? To me, the lesson is, don’t put the money on the table before you have the accountability in place. I don’t understand for the life of me why he agreed to go for the $5.6 billion or the 5.4 for New York City education. And I don’t have time now to discuss it, but in my view if you look at the actual decision by the Court of Appeals, the actual language, he didn’t have to do a penny.  And I’m not saying he shouldn’t have done a penny, or whatever, but there was no legal obligation anymore at the end of this case for the governor to propose extra money. The reason he did it was not – and if it doesn’t work in four years, he can’t say, the courts made me do it. He did it for political and policy reasons. Which is as it should be, that’s the way education decisions should be made. But why he put the money on the table before there was any accountability in place, I don’t understand.

And the second point I don’t understand is, accountability for the extra money he’s sending – the state will now send to New York.  But it’s all ready – we all ready have an $18 billion budget.  It’s not chopped liver. Where’s the accountability for that $18 billion. I don’t see it and given the precedent in New York I really have to wonder where we’re going to be in four years. Thank you.

MR. SHAFFER:  I thank you,  you’ve got all of the other panelists raising their hands. [laughter]

I have a bunch of questions myself, but I’d first like to ask each panelist for a chance to follow up on redirect.  Then I want to open it to the audience and then if we have more time, we’ll hear more from me. Maybe back in the same order that we started in.

Tim Kremer, anything you heard that you’re dying to answer or anything about the governor’s approach that you didn’t get to cover before?

MR. KREMER: The only things I would add very briefly: I did say that our organization New York State School Boards Association is supportive of the Spitzer proposals for accountability, but we do have some caveats. We do believe that whatever the consequences are, whatever the incentives are, they have to be leading toward higher student achievement. The standards that need to be in place for adequate progress need to be fair. I think you’ve heard from a lot of panel members, of their concerns about the measurements.

We also would believe that Dick is right in talking about levels of accountability that his members feel inherently in their jobs, but we think teachers must be held accountable along with boards and superintendents and principals. They were, kind of, left out of that system in the remarks made by the governor.

And we believe that the measurements that need to be in place, not only need to be credible but they need to be diagnostic. Tom you talked about the fact, you got these test scores so late in the game, so there’s very little you could do because these kids are gone. We need to get these test scores in such a way that we could use that information to help these children attend to their weaknesses or their strengths, so we need to get them not only in a diagnostic fashion, but a timely fashion.

That’s all I would add.

MR. SHAFFER:  All right, thanks.  Dick?

MR. IANNUZZI:  Well, I’ve never met Sol before but I’ve been told that nobody corrects Sol. So, I’m going to get a chance to correct Sol. Actually Sol, I’m from Long Island, so I am further south. I’ve been here, so I get to say that and moving on.

I hear what you’re saying about the accountability and the dollars. Whether the dollars, you know … but the question here is what has to be improved in the governor’s call for reforms. And I think if we’re looking for reforms, that’s where the dollars were necessary.

And more importantly the CFE issue is just a matter of equity in New York State, the fact is that urban centers, poverty centers, school districts that deal predominantly with children of color have been treated unfairly in the state of New York when it comes to dollars. And that had to be addressed and that is a major part of what the governor has done and we commend him on that.

I want to stress Carl’s point because I think that is really a very important point. The movement in New York State towards higher standards has been in the mix about NCLB and in the rush to discuss all sorts of variations of accountability we have really not, not patted ourselves on the back enough on the issue of standards. Because we have done a lot with standards and some of us were not as excited about the Board of Regents moving in that direction, but with great credit to them for taking that step early and I think that, that’s a plus that New York needs to take credit for going in that direction. And now we have to see how we do the accountability piece to follow up.

MR. SHAFFER: While I have you here, do I get to ask how you feel about the governor’s proposal on tenure?

MR. IANNUZZI:  I’m fine with the governor’s proposal on tenure. People need time to write that down? I’ll say it – I’m fine with the governor’s proposal on tenure. [Laughter].

The governor’s proposal on tenure speaks to the granting of tenure. He speaks to the granting of tenure with three pieces. The first of it has to do with the role of administration in evaluating teachers that already exist. I think what may be missing is whether we are as careful and as deliberate about that process as we should be. I think that teachers would welcome it being done properly.

The second part that the governor talks about is a role for peers. I read in to the peers piece mentoring. New York State is one of the, I think only seven or eight or nine states in the country that actually mandate mentoring. I think the more mentoring we do, the better prepared teachers will be and the better sense we will have of whether a teacher should be granted tenure.

And then the governor talks about available data. And within the context of what both Professor Peterson and Thomas said about the quality of the data and the accuracy of the test, I think there is data out there. And if we take that data and we look at it in the context of the views of mentoring and the role of evaluation I think we could make a real good picture of who should be granted tenure and who should not be granted tenure. There is no value to the teachers’ union in what we profess to do to advance the needs of our members in having teachers who can’t perform. So why wouldn’t we be supportive of it?

MR. SHAFFER:  Thank you. Carl any follow up?

MR. HAYDEN:  Yeah, David I can’t resist the temptation to rise to Sol’s CFE bait.  [Laughter]

I’m a CFE board member, Sol. And I think, most of the people in this room are going to know that the number that the Court of Appeals adopted was a footnote from a Standard and Poor’s report, that was included in the Zarb commission recommendations. That footnote had nothing to recommend it accept that it happened to be the lowest number they could find in the entire report.

There was no logic to commend it.  There was certainly no link between that number and what was actually needed. What you didn’t mention from your charts, and I thought – I’m the last person in the world to be defending the mayor, but for all its troubles, New York City is doing a better job than the other cities in the big five in terms of student performance.

MR. STERN:  They always did.

MR. HAYDEN: Woeful as it is – no I don’t think it always did – but in any event, look the whole business of moving a large sum of money to New York City schools is an attempt to cure a historic inequity. And as far as I’m concerned it’s a moral imperative. So, I see the logic.


DR. ROGERS: I love the lightning round.  [Laughter]

A bunch of sound bites?
First of all I want to echo what Dick said about children in poverty.  Because that’s the thing that gets overlooked in all of this. As I was watching Professor Peterson’s presentation and he showed a lot of historical data over time going back in to the seventies -if you look at the 15 year period leading up to the Nation At Risk Report- where they worried about a rising tide of mediocrity, what we really have is a rising tide of poverty. And the chart for how steeply the percentage of kids in poverty went up during that period, is astonishing.

That’s also the same period in time when we decided that we were going to finally educate disabled children along with the regular school population. We were going to educate children of color along with the regular school population even though that was something that was enacted in 1954 with the Brown decision. It didn’t really start getting a lot of momentum until the late sixties, and Title One was put in to place. So those are the kinds of things that create the context.

And New York is 23rd out of the 24 industrialized democracies, the OECD nations, in rate of kids in poverty. In fact, we’re one of only two nations with more than 20% kids in poverty. And all of the international comparisons at which we do middle of the pack, all of the countries that beat us, have levels of poverty that are between five and 10%. The entire European Union is under 10%. So, that’s who we’re competing against, and actually fairly favorably considering the mix of kids that they have.

I like to talk about inputs and kidputs. And our kidputs are terrible. We have tons of kids in poverty. And the fact that we do a middling job with them actually speaks to how robust a system we have.

Second thought. If we’re going to have tests and we are, and we know that people will teach the tests, then we might as well have tests worth teaching to. The tests we have now are a dramatic improvement over the tests that they replaced. And the next generation of assessments will be even better than these. But we can’t rely on the assessment we have now, we’ve got to start thinking about tests that test higher rotor thinking skills, the ability to problem solve, the ability to be innovative to working groups and to assemble the work of others because globalization is going to drive work in to various corners of the world, wherever that work is cheapest, and the value added is going to be, in some place where we have workers who can reassemble that work and think about it.

Third point is, I also agree with Richard’s point that we have to do a better evaluation. My members have to do a better evaluation. We don’t do nearly as good a job of evaluating and supporting teachers as we should. It’s something that we try to drive. One of the things that gets in the way is the concern that it’s not a productive use of time, because there’s not a lot you can do with that evaluation. But I don’t think that’s a valid excuse and I think it’s something that we have to do more with.

And then a final comment on value-added testing which I think is a promising innovation and something that we should work at, particularly as we get better tests. Value-added testing will make more sense. And I agree with Tim, most of the research I’ve read on it says it’s interesting but it’s not ready for prime-time. You certainly wouldn’t want to build a compensation system on top of value-added testing yet.

And if we think about our current state testing system, I made a quick list of all the kinds of tests there are out there. We have formative tests, summative tests, instructionally supportive tests, diagnostic tests, performance tests, and accountability assessments. All of those tests are constructed in different ways. The state has one test and we’re trying to use it to do all of those things. It’s like trying to play golf with only one club. Driver or a putter, pick it and play the whole round. So, we need to recognize that whatever the state does with its tests, it has to be supported by assessments in school districts that are formative, that are given throughout the year and that are recursive. They go back and inform instruction. If we don’t do any of that, then using these state tests where the data is six to eight months old by the time you get it, to try and run a value-added system, a diagnostic system and an instructive system, it’s going to collapse, it just won’t work.

So, we have to do an awful lot more to improve our assessments.


MR. STERN:  Let me answer a few points that were addressed to me.  [Laughter]

The first one was Chancellor Hayden’s comment that I was unfair to the poor mayor, that in fact, the city is doing much better than other urban centers in New York State. I responded, it always did better, and he said, no. I happen to have my chart. And 1999, in New York City, 35% of eighth graders achieved grade level in reading, Buffalo 31%, Rochester 23%, Syracuse 30%, Yonkers 29%. As I said New York City always did better, so …

MR. HAYDEN:  The world didn’t start in 1999.

MR. STERN:  Oh, so you have some numbers before ’99?

MR. HAYDEN:  Yeah.

MR. STERN:  Yeah, okay.  Well, bring it next time.
Historic inequity; I was unfair to CFE, I wasn’t only unfair to the mayor I was unfair to poor CFE, I actually support equity in education if – in fact I like the Abbott case – I liked the Abbott decisions in New Jersey because I was based on the idea of inequity. Every child in the state ought to have basically the same amount of money attached to them. I don’t see why my kids, when they went to school in New York City, shouldn’t have had the same amount of money than kids in Scarsdale, just because they have a higher tax base. So, I support the concept.  Unfortunately in New Jersey as well, what we now know after 15 years of the Abbott decision is that the kids who are now getting exactly the same amount of money in those horrendous districts in New Jersey are doing not much better than they did 15 years ago. That’s the reality.

But the problem with the CFE case for 13 years, 14 years – well I find two things wrong with the CFE case: We spent 14 years in the courts, it cost about $15 million in litigation costs, $50 million when you count defensive, and the plaintiffs and the court costs. And at the end of this 14 year process, we wound up with all ready enough money in the New York City system as the decision would have allocated. In other words, the political process was working all that time to bring more money to New York City.

The other thing that was wrong with their case, is that it was based around the question that can’t be answered and is indeed unanswerable, and that’s the idea that if you reach some magic amount of money put in to the system, that’s going to give you an adequate education. Everything we know, all the data we have from the city in all these years indicates that, that’s not true. I’m not saying that there aren’t things that should be funded that are important, of course. For example if you ask me what would I fund, I would say, I would put a lot of money in K-3 reading, I would reduce class size in K-3 to 18 and I’d put in programs – reading programs that actually worked that have been tested. There’s really strong evidence that something like that would lift reading scores – particularly for low-performing minority kids. But that’s not what’s being done as a result of this process.

And the other problem with the CFE? we didn’t talk about education, we talked about money for 15 years.  Hopefully at least when the governor’s, you know, $5.4 billion comes to New York City and we’re spending $20,000 per pupil, $20,000 per pupil in four years, we will finally start figuring out that it’s not money, we’d better start talking about education and talking about what works, particularly what instructional methods, what reading and math programs actually work, which ones have evidence behind them.

MR. SHAFFER: All right, thank you. I can’t resist one observation, which is that for years I’ve been wondering what is the amount of money, after which we can stop talking about money?  [Laughter]

And apparently Elliot Spitzer has found it. You know?

This panel suggests we’re there. I mean, I hope it lasts. But in this town, really the only people you hear complaining about the amount of money in the budget is, as far as I can tell, individual legislators. They have particular local issues. You know, it seems to have hit the aggregate number, Sol, so maybe we’re past that.

Now I’m going to shut up because it’s time I ask if anybody in the audience has any follow-up.


MR. SHAFFER: This time I’ll ask if anybody in the audience has any follow up. I’ve seen a lot of people squirming and this is your chance to get up and get it out of your system so please do?

ASSEMBLYMAN JOEL H. MILLER: As far as the adequate amount of money. In our hearings we determined that there were 303 school districts that would be getting actually a maximum of 3 percent but if they didn’t use pre kindergarten funding they’d be actually getting less than 3 percent increases over the next five years.

Richard Mills indicated that the rate of education inflation in New York State was hovering around 8 percent, which would mean if you look at that difference over five years, which is compounded, the burden placed on the New York state school property taxpayer, which is everyone outside New York City, becomes enormous.

There is a projection that since there are 303 school districts that fall into that category, we might have 303 school districts on contingency by the end of five years.

So there are some of us who actually think we may have to add a little more money.  Money is still an issue, just because the cost keeps going up and the taxpayer can’t afford it anymore.

But it’s then a matter of not who is paying for it but which pocket you take it out of. It’s the same suit. The debate over money isn’t over but I’m glad that we’re reaching at least the beginning of a consensus that money isn’t everything.

I mean, without it you could have no education, but clearly there is no direct connection between how much we spend and what we get for the money, unless we take into account all of those fine things that we just talked about today. That is the proper assessment, holding everyone accountable, understanding the differences in need and addressing all of those.

Unfortunately, the legislature doesn’t really believe that the money issue has been totally settled, at least not over the next five years.

DR. PETERSON: I like the idea that Sol had about inconvenient truths because I think I have two or three to offer.

One is when you only look at the highest performing kid and how well they did on the NAEP, the top 10%, the talented tenth, and you look at the talented tenth today and the talented tenth in 1970, there is no difference.

We are not doing a better job of educating our very best students graduating from high school today than we were. It’s not like it’s the bottom that’s holding the United States back. The system as a whole is not making progress.

Well you could say, well we’re as good as we’ve ever been, and I guess if you feel that that’s all we need, then you should be happy.

So the second point I want to make that’s an inconvenient truth is that the money problem is going to be with us as long as education is a labor intensive industry. Because when you have almost all the progress you’re going to make by hiring more people, which is what you’re going to do when you reduce class size, you have an extremely labor intensive industry that’s competing in a labor market where everybody else is becoming more capital intensive and more productive.

So all other segments of the society are becoming more productive. So in order to pay teachers a competitive wage, it’s got to constantly rise to keep up with other wages in the economy.

Teachers’ wages have gone up a lot, but teachers’ wages relative to other wages haven’t gone up at all. In fact, they’re down when you compare them to other college educated people.  College educated people are earning a lot more today than they were 30, 40 years ago. Teachers are earning more but not as much as the average college educated person.

So if you’re going to get the best and the brightest into education, you’re going to have to either pay teachers more or you’re going to have to find out, you’re going to have to pay more money into education or you’re going to have to find out how to use the money you have in education more effectively and more efficiently. And unfortunately very little attention to that fundamental problem is on the table, even with all the other stuff that’s on the table, I think this is an item that has to be faced as well.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: In the private sector typically, technology is used to enhance productivity in labor intensive enterprises.

Why hasn’t that example from the private sector taken root in public education?

DR. PETERSON: Well I think the main reason is because there’s no incentive. I mean, the reason why you use technology is because you want to make money, and so you’re looking for ways of making workers more productive.
And there’s no, nobody’s making a profit in the educational sector and so the incentives, until you get the incentives in line directly you’re not going to make much progress on that, I think.

MR. STERN: Could I go in on it? Part of the problem, when you raise the question of productivity, we don’t even have any way, we don’t even measure productivity in the education industry.

I mean one of our colleagues, J. Greene, just did a study which got a lot of attention based on the idea the average hourly wage for teachers, and if you look at the average hourly wage it looks like a lot because teachers don’t work that many hours.

But there’s a huge gap, there’s a huge spread between the actual hours that teachers work from those who come in at 8.40 a.m., which is the beginning of a school day and go home at 3 and hardly take any work home with them and those many who are very, very dedicated and put in, you know, an eight hour, nine hour day at school and then still take work home, work on the weekend and prepare.

And we have no way of capturing that or even beginning to measure it. It would be unheard of in the sanitation department to not measure worker productivity, but in education we don’t measure it. We just accept the fact that the school day, you know, is the length of the day for kids. So unless we begin, and that’s certainly something that should be put on the table, to try to distinguish between the, and I hope there are no gym teachers in the room, try to distinguish between the seventh grade gym teacher who comes in at 8.40 a.m. and goes home at 3 p.m. and spends the entire day rolling basketballs out on the court, and the seventh grade math teacher who is grading 150 papers or tests every week or two and is putting in probably a 60 hour week during the weeks school is on.
Yet the seventh grade gym teacher, because he may have 20 years of seniority, could be making twice as much as the seventh grade math teacher.

We have to address that.

MR. SHAFFER: Okay, I’ve got to go back to Dick now before somebody else says something that he has to respond to.

MR. IANNUZZI: Actually I just wanted to add my comments and my thoughts to Dr. Peterson’s point about the top 10%. And I would ask us to also look at that top 10% because I think you’re absolutely right.

We talk about a global economy, a flattening of the world and having to deal.  One of the places that we have to put our attention is with that top 10% and I would suggest that we need to look at the way we test.

I know you both brought the issue up.  But when testing concentrates on punishments and punitive measures, the school district, the school board, the superintendent, the classroom teacher has no choice but to concentrate on trying not to be punished. This means they don’t give the kind of attention that needs to be given to the top 10%.

I think that’s where we’re failing ourselves. We’re concentrating on avoiding punishment and so we’re not putting in the time and energy we should for making that top 10% world class, which is where they should be.

ROBERTO REYES: I work at the State Ed. Department and I’m also a product of the school system that you’re trying to fix.

I think we would be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to also indicate that the conversation has to be expanded. It cannot be just about education or the education budget because the social pathologies that exist in the communities for these children that are the lowest performing are going to require the interventions of many agencies across our states to be well coordinated and that those resources would be brought to bear on the problems that exist in our communities.

About 10 years ago, I can’t say that I remember the author’s name but the name of the article resonated with me enough that I kept it in the back of my head forever and it was ‘What No School Can Do.’

It articulated all of the myriad of social problems that exist in these communities. When the commissioner and the Board of Regents have committed to P16 system of bringing the full force of the University of the State of New York to the problems of education in our state, it signifies a significant step that needs to be taken further and that conversations or dialogue such as this one today should bring partners from the other sectors of state government to make sure that there is a full court press on the problems that we’re trying to fix.

MR. SHAFFER: Tom, you talked about some of that earlier.

MR.ROGERS: I did, and you’re talking exactly about the issues of poverty and how best do we remediate.  We know that we’re not going to change societal poverty overnight, although if we really want to improve not only the bottom 10% but the top 10% that’s one of the things that we should do as a society.

But we’re going to have to find a way to serve people more efficiently.  I’m imagining a single parent with perhaps just two kids trying to coordinate a social service worker for each one of those kids, a Child Health Plus doctor for each one of those kids, some sort of state dental program.
We have all these programs in place but I’m a state government professional, I’ve been in Albany for 18 years. I wouldn’t know how to navigate that maze. I can’t imagine someone who may have to work two jobs figuring out how to serve their kid.

Schools have the kids all during the day. We know how to track them, we have data systems in place for being able to tell what they have and haven’t taken advantage of and then we can correlate some of that with their student achievement data.

Schools are the ideal place to situate those kinds of supports for families and we should really be thinking about breaking down the barriers between all these state agencies that are then replicated in barriers at the local level, and find ways of coordinating all of those services in ways that families can really take advantage of them so that we can remediate the effects of poverty, even if we’re not ready to remediate poverty itself directly.

I just wanted to take a stab at Chancellor Hayden’s question about technology.

I think the reason why we haven’t expanded technology in education is partly because we don’t have any good models for how it improves instruction. All of the technology models we have right now mirror the least effective instructional techniques that we have.

So we have workbooks where kids fill things out.  We have workbooks that are on screen, where kids type the answer in, and it is a little more colorful but it’s the same instructional technique.

What we’re doing right now, somebody standing at a podium doing a PowerPoint, that’s called frontal teaching and it is one of the oldest and probably least effective pedagogical techniques for kids, teaching techniques.

So… you could do this with any size class. We could have a class of 200 people in here and the take away for the individuals wouldn’t change because it’s frontal teaching to all of them.

Now this can’t be called team teaching, having all of us up here, because we’re not interacting with anyone. We’re just taking turns frontal teaching. So if you want to get the benefit of smaller class sizes you have to have ways of being able to take advantage of different pedagogical modalities that are possible with those smaller groups.

And no one’s figured out how to do that with technology yet. What technology replicates is frontal teaching on a massive scale, so there are very few subjects that lend themselves to frontal teaching, and those handful of places would be a place where it would make a lot of sense. But you’re not going to get any kinds of real productivity gains if you’re just replicating the weakest instructional technique we know, and we’re doing it over the Internet instead of doing it in a classroom.  That’s my thought on that.

MR. SHAFFER: Thank you. For the next observation I want to get Tim in here for a minute and maybe one last question after him.

MR. KREMER: Just a couple of observations. I’ve mentioned we have a valuated pilot project under way and we had Cohose, which is located nearby.

The superintendent of Cohoes was describing how they are using that data and to piggy back on something Dick said, it was because of the availability of that data they noted that their students who were the ones in the AP classes, the ones who they would have expected to make the most progress from year to year, were not making any progress at all. In fact, some of them were falling behind.

They noted that those who were at the lowest performing levels were making the greatest progress. And that is indeed where they had been putting their resources. So what they saw is yes, indeed, where we’re putting our resources we’re getting the best bang for our buck but we’re ignoring these gifted kids and in fact they’re falling behind.

So without that value added data they would not have known that. And now they have a resource allocation question.