Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Does anyone hold the SED and the Regents accountable?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 1:33 PM

It’s hard to say what the future holds for Ted Morris, the 22-year-old former lead applicant for the Greater Works Charter School. Morris went from wunderkind to someone people began eyeing with suspicion in the span of a day or two after it turned out he had invented much of his educational background and work experience. Morris resigned from the school, and then the school's application was rescinded. 

Maybe Morris will learn from the experience and move on. Labeling him a con and a grifter seems a little harsh. There’s no way to excuse what he did, but it shouldn't prevent him from starting over. 

The New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents deserve less sympathy. How many of us meet 22-year-olds with more than seven years of significant professional experience at virtually anything, much less possessing multiple higher ed degrees? And yet, Morris's background didn’t seem to raise any questions at either of the agencies responsible for approving charter school applications.

Worse, when Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch was questioned about Morris and Greater Works, she didn’t hesitate to deflect blame for the oversight. According to some media accounts, Tisch said that the Regents act on the SED’s recommendations.

Sorry, but that was so not the right response.

It left the public wondering: what exactly did the SED and the Regents review, and what did they approve? What other charters have been approved without appropriate scrutiny? And how much in public and private funds are these charters receiving?

Both SED Commissioner John King and Chancellor Tisch are outspoken supporters of charter schools. And they’ve strongly supported professional evaluations for teachers and principals that emphasize greater professional accountability for student performance.

But where’s the accountability in Albany? Remember the less-than-stellar roll out of Common Core?

All things being equal, letting Morris alone take the fall for this mess seems almost as incredible as some of his misrepresentations. He’s not the only one who should be held accountable.


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