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Albany Deal Keeps Evals in Place, but Safety Net Is Wrong-Headed

The end to this legislative session has once again shown us that the teachers union will protect ineffective teachers even if it means harming the education of our children. Despite their efforts to gum up the works, higher standards, rigorous state tests and a teacher evaluation system remain in place in New York State. 

To put this all in perspective, only 1% of teachers last year were rated ineffective in the first place -- which shows how much further our evaluation system needs to go -- so the number of teachers who even could have been impacted is minimal. Our schools would be a lot better off if the UFT and NYSUT spent less time protecting a handful of bad teachers and more time fighting to improve teaching and learning for the kids they're paid to educate.

Although there is now a clear path forward for the implementation of the Common Core standards, the two-year safety net that will allow ineffective teachers to remain in the classroom regardless of how their children perform on state tests is wrong-headed.  This safety net opens the door to dismantling the whole evaluation system, as the NYSUT leader declared as her intention this morning.  This organization will never allow that to happen and the Governor and legislature should not allow it either.

Furthermore, we remain concerned about the inclusion of 'developing' teachers in the safety net.  A significant number of teachers will no longer receive improvement plans, which is a detriment to that teacher’s career and more importantly, to the children who will continue to be taught by them. There's still a long way to go. 

There were several important agreements that came out of this process that represent a step in the right direction:

  • There will be a clarification that non-tenured teachers are at-will employees who may be terminated at any time for any reason that is constitutionally permissible. This was a longstanding right of school districts that is being reaffirmed in this process.

  • A teacher's initial rating will be recorded in their permanent record, and parents will have access to information on which to act.

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