Reflections on Education Summit

I wish I had time for a more detailed analysis of Assemblyman Crouch’s education summit last night, but I’m trying to get ready for a road trip to Pittsburgh to visit my sister.

Here’s the lowdown. Assemblyman Crouch is very receptive to hearing from us. Let me start by thanking the many teachers who were brave enough to speak last night and set the record straight about what education reforms and testing are doing to our schools. There were a few parents that spoke as well, and it is clear that we, the public, are very concerned about where education is headed and that we want change. If you were there last night, please be sure to email Cliff and thank him for his efforts last night. If you spoke last night, send him a message reiterating your points. His email is

Some points that struck me. First attendance was low. I expected the Chenango Valley High School auditorium to be packed, but we didn’t even fill a third of it. This tells me that either a lot of people out there are unaware of what’s going on, or they don’t think it affects them. We need to keep speaking out, letting people know what’s going on in education and how it does indeed affect everyone.

The local media coverage was nice, (see here and here) but not at all in depth and just covered the basic fluff in my opinion. If anyone is aware of any other coverage, please comment below.

The panel that Assemblyman Crouch organized was weak and provided insufficient insight as to what’s going on. It was the crowd that held the true power and told it like it is.

New York State Regent James Tallon was defensive from the get-go and borderline antagonistic, and his rebuttal to most comments made by the public seemed greatly in defense of testing. In response to most of us that spoke first, he kept mentioning the Regents exams and how testing has always been there. And the tired old comparison of accountability in school to professional accountability was made several times. Luckily, the audience was smart enough to set the record straight and towards the end Regent Tallon almost admitted that the Regents exams as a comparison to the many other tests that are consuming education were not the same thing. He did not however seem to come to “our” side of the issue. It was disappointing.

Other members of the panel included David Gill, Chenango Valley Central School District, Interim Superintendent; Dona Murray, teacher, and Suzanne Sova, parent. Although they acknowledged many of our concerns, their criticism was watered down in my opinion, and again it was the crowd that brought the passion and true arguments to the table. Assemblyman Crouch and Regent Tallon spoke the most, and the other three balanced out the perspectives but had little ‘bite’ when it comes to discussing the devastating effects of education reforms today.

The audience covered just about everything in their comments and questions. They were brilliant! I spoke also. I introduced myself as a member of Opt-out New York & Oneonta Area for Public Education. I was the second in line and focused my attention to parental rights to direct the upbringing of our children and refuse to participate in these tests. I asked for legislation that would allow this to occur easily without fighting with our schools, to remove the wedge that has been driven between parents and administrations by threats and fear tactics issued from above. Assemblyman Crouch said they were “discussing ideas.”

Again, Assemblyman Crouch is receptive. Please contact him. I was able to shake his hand at the end after most had left. I mentioned my desire for opt-out legislation and his response was positive. Another member of our local group, Oneonta Area For Public Education asked for another summit in Oneonta. Although this is not Crouch’s district, he was very open to the idea of working with Assemblyman Magee and other neighboring representatives to organize another event. PLEASE contact your representative and ask for something similar! The ball will start rolling slowly. Do NOT be discouraged. It is rolling, and it will build momentum. But it starts with you!

Ok, out the door… 6 1/2 hour drive you know… make that 8 with two young children and lots of stopping.  Forgive my lack of proof-reading and if I neglected to mention anything important!!!


7 thoughts on “Reflections on Education Summit

  1. I, too, was at that meeting and I agree with your reflections. I found it very disappointing hearing what Jim Tallon had to say. I was in a meeting with him earlier in the year where teachers asked him similar questions and he never seemed to understand our perspective. Cliff Crouch, on the other hand, seemed genuinely interested and empathetic with the concerns that were presented. I loved Jan Strauss’s Top Ten she presented.

  2. Thank you for posting this! A colleague and I drove from Ithaca last night to attend this ‘event’. Very disappointing. I completely agree with your observations regarding all panelists. Mr. Tallon was condescending and very defensive. Clearly not an active listener and out of touch with what my colleagues and I grapple with daily. He seemed disinterested in being at this open forum and shuffled papers, rolled his eyes and sat with his arms crossed clearly not interested. What can be done to have him removed from his post and replace him with someone that has had classroom experience which seems to be missing in all of our decision making? Thank you for speaking out last night! I wanted to ask about InBloom and the expense that will be incurred by struggling districts but regretfully did not. Thank you for your efforts!!

    • There was so much to discuss and 3 hours flew by. That’s why we should take advantage of Cliff’s responsiveness and try to get more of these summits in place. Each time we can expand the conversation, the issues, and hopefully the number of people who will open their eyes to this. Thank you for being there. We have to keep at it, despite some of the disheartening moments we seem to deal with on a more and more frequent basis.

  3. Great Blog! Spot on from my perspective too. I plan to write to both Assemblyman Crouch and thank him for his understanding. I also plan to write to Regent Tallon and suggest perhaps he should truly “educate” himself on today’s reforms (by spending time in the trenches) or step down and let someone more qualified take the position.

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