Dissension on the Board of Regents


Public dissension is rare among the New York State Board of Regents. But as further proof that concerns about the new teacher-evaluation law go well beyond the state’s teachers unions, a group of Regents have come out against the law.

Seven members of the prestigious 17-member group issued what they described as “Position Paper Amendments” to the Annual Professional Performance Review. Education historian Diane Ravitch published the full document, which is signed by Regents Kathleen Cashin, Judith Chin, Catherine Collins, Josephine Finn, Judith Johnson, Beverly Ouderkirk, and Betty Rosa.

The document is a politely-worded piece that challenges several aspects of the APPR, which at Cuomo’s urging during budget negotiations, requires that 50 percent of the evaluations be based on student test scores. The dissidents are not suggesting that lawmakers should get rid of APPR or that it should be softened into meaningless puffery.

But the general theme is undeniably frank: develop an evaluation system that’s based on research so that it has value and integrity.

Some of their recommendations for the state: give districts more time to develop meaningful evaluation plans; work with teachers and administrators to come up with a more collaborative process; review Common Core; and to consider alternatives to the new law. 

Their word of caution about causing further disruption in the classroom through erratic and sloppy rollouts of ever- changing policies is understandable considering what happened with the introduction of Common Core.

Rochester’s local regents, Wade Norwood and Andrew Brown, are not among the defectors taking a stand against APPR and Common Core. But both are accessible and without question committed to helping Rochester’s children. And thankfully, they’re open to listening to alternative views.