To be clear, what follows is my own perspective as one NYS teacher who happens to be an NYS Master Teacher, and does not presume to represent the position of any other teacher, NYS Master Teacher, or the NYS Master Teacher Program.
I was somewhat surprised to receive an invitation to attend the Governor’s “State of the State” address, which came my way due to my recognition as a New York State Master Teacher. On the one hand it was easy to decline, as I am teaching on the day in question. On the other hand, it was even easier to decline the invitation, as I am deeply concerned about Governor Cuomo’s positions on education, and the policies he champions.
This is, after all, a Governor who doesn’t seem to think the education system that I am a part of is doing very well at all, and that the lion’s share of the blame for that can be placed at the feet of the teachers in that system. He’s a Governor who has claimed without evidence that there are scads of ineffective teachers working in the state, even though the evaluation system that he championed has failed to uncover said scads. He’s a governor who has pushed though punitive tax-cap legislation that is actively degrading the public education system of the state as it forces districts to hollow out programs. And if his recent comments are telegraphing his future plans, he will soon be a Governor who goes after the pensions of the teacher corps.
So all of that noted, I’m not interested in being his guest. Call me a pessimist, but I imagine the Governor is going to give some time to education in his speech, and I have to think it’s going to be more of the same, broken rhetoric that only serves to further demoralize those of us involved in doing the work of teaching. I also imagine he might have a kind word or two for the Master Teacher Program. Which is great. But a kind word or two is small comfort when held against a systematic debasing of a profession.