While studies have consistently shown that teacher quality is the greatest influencer of a child’s academic success, few systems exist in New York State to influence teacher quality. As a result, it’s difficult to identify, encourage, promote and retain top educators. Teachers are left without constructive feedback regarding their performance, and administrators lack effective measurements for highlighting and rewarding excellence.
Working to remedy this, Governor Cuomo announced an agreement earlier this year on a new statewide teacher evaluation system. The Governor’s framework outlined a reasonable and rigorous evaluation system based on multiple measures of performance and fulfilled the commitment made by New York in its application for Race to the Top grant funding.
But the Governor left final details of the new evaluation system up to district leaders and local unions, stipulating that districts must reach an agreement before January 17, 2013, or forfeit 4% of their education funding from the State.
When the framework was announced in February, government and union leaders from across New York applauded the plan. But now, nine months later, with the January deadline quickly approaching, 85 districts have failed to submit a plan. New York City – the largest school district in the state – is one of them. And if city officials and union leaders don’t reach an agreement in the coming weeks, the City’s 1.1 million students could lose nearly $300 million in state funding. At a time when budgets are already stretched thin, this loss would be devastating.
Our kids cannot afford inaction. Our schools need that money. Our teachers need a new evaluation system. And local leaders need to work together to reach an agreement.