Monday, December 15, 2014

NY Principal and NY BAT Tim Farley Throws Hat in the Ring for NYS Ed. Commish!

December 14, 2014
New York State Education Department
Attention: Merryl Tisch, Chancellor
89 Washington Avenue
Board of Regents, Room 110 EB
Albany, New York 12234
Dear Chancellor Tisch,
Please consider this letter as my application for the recently vacated position, State Education Commissioner of New York. I am currently in my 23rd year in education and I am currently an Elementary/Middle School Principal in grades 4-8. The reason for my application is that I feel that I can offer you and the Board of Regents a new direction that I feel is desperately needed.
If appointed as the next Commissioner, my first priority would be to travel to every part of the state (Long Island, NYC, Hudson Valley, Central NY, Western NY, Northern NY) to apologize to the students and educators for the failed policies that have been put in place over the past several years.
I would tell the students that we failed to live up to the promises of making sure they were college and career ready and for not providing adequate resources to do so. I would apologize for forcing developmentally inappropriate tests on them without properly phasing them in. I would apologize for designing the tests and their outcomes so that 70% would fail.
As for the educators, I would apologize to them for not valuing their input and for implementing a harsh and invalid system of measuring their effectiveness via student test scores on tests the students were ill-prepared to take. I would beg for their forgiveness and ask that they join me and the State Education Department in making the necessary changes to our educational system – as partners.
At the conclusion of the apology tour, I would immediately get to work on fixing our schools. The areas that I would focus on are the NYS standards, APPR, testing for accountability purposes, and data sharing. These areas are all impacted by the federal Race to the Top program and NCLB.
Having high standards is paramount to a sound educational experience. The Common Core standards had little to no teacher input and as Commissioner, I would stop its implementation immediately. There would need to be a one to two year “hold harmless” period in which students, teachers, and school districts would not have their designation changed. During that time period, I would lead a blue ribbon panel of education experts to create standards that are age and grade appropriate, taking into consideration students with disabilities, ELL students, and academically gifted students. Under my leadership, we would adopt the best standards in the nation.
Race to the Top requires states to measure teacher effectiveness in part on students’ performance on standardized testing. As Commissioner, I would work closely and collaboratively with the US Department of Education, Teachers Unions, teachers, and testing experts to develop a system of accountability that all parties could agree to. The testing associated with APPR would be limited in its length to meet the minimum of what is required by Federal law.
As for the data sharing (or “longitudinal data systems”) required under RTTT, I would try to compel the Board of Regents to boycott that aspect of the law. Sharing students’ personally identifiable information with third party vendors is a violation of our duties as educators to protect our students. Data-driven instruction is a powerful tool for educators, but we can never risk their sensitive data while attempting to improve instructional outcomes.
I realize that you are likely looking for a candidate who is supportive of the Regents Reform Agenda. If that is the case, then I am not the candidate for you. If however, you are looking for a leader who will give you open and honest feedback, then I would make an ideal candidate. I have a long track record of working collaboratively with parents and teachers to create an optimal learning experience for students.
I look forward to hearing from you and for the opportunity to share with you in person, my vision in moving our state forward in educating our students to be truly prepared as lifelong learners.
Tim Farley

Here is Tim speaking at a rally on Long Island, New York

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