Governor Cuomo: NYC Schools Will Lose $250 Million if Officials Don't Reach a Deal on Teacher Evaluations
Without an approved teacher evaluation plan by the mid-January deadline, New York City public schools will lose $250 million in state educational funding.
New York City and Yonkers are among 27 districts out of the 692 districts statewide that have yet to submit teacher evaluation plans to the Education Department. According to Governor Cuomo, without an approved teacher evaluation plan, New York City stands to lose $250 million in extra state school aid.
The New York Post reports that Governor Cuomo does not plan to extend the January 17 deadline:
The deadline was for “accomplishment by that date, it was performance by that date,” he told reporters. “That was the directive from very early on.
“We didn’t say everyone should ‘try,’ ” he added. “They’ve been trying for years, and they’ve been failing for years.”
Although Mayor Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers say they’re not looking for an extension of the deadline, the Mayor has been making contingency cuts to brace for budget cuts in state school aid.
With less than a month left until the January 17 deadline, 27 school districts including New York City have yet to submit a teacher evaluation plan. According to GothamSchools, time is quickly running out for these 27 school districts as the State Department Education is supposed to have 6 weeks to review plans submitted. State Education Commissioner John King elaborated on how little time is left for these districts:
“The clock is ticking. There are still over two dozen districts that have not submitted APPR plans. The longer they wait, the more difficult it will be to complete our review by the deadline. We’ll move as fast as we can, but we will not sacrifice the quality of the review."
There is additional pressure on the teachers’ union and City officials to reach an agreement since it will be more difficult for the Education Department to review New York City’s plan that ultimately affects a very large number of schools and students. GothamSchools reports that both City officials and the teachers’ union are committed to trying to reach an agreement, but “will not sign off on a bad plan just to get the state funds.”
In a recent op-ed published by the New York Daily News, the father of two Brooklyn public school students gives a first-hand account of just how important it is that the teachers' union and City officials come to an agreement on a new teacher evaluation deal. This Brownsville parent, who has twin daughters enrolled in different kindergarten classes, says that the difference in teacher quality he observes in their classrooms is unfair to his children:
They go to the same neighborhood elementary school and sit in classrooms right next to each other. It’s clear to me, however, that this year, they are not getting the same high-quality education.
One has a teacher who always seems to go the extra mile. She works hard to understand my daughter as a person and pushes her to learn and grow. My other daughter has a teacher who appears to do the bare minimum.
He writes that he has joined other concerned parents and StudentsFirstNY to urge the teachers' union and the Department of Education to reach an agreement on a new system for teacher evaluations by the January deadline so his daughters both have the same chance at succeeding in the future:
A new evaluation system will, I hope, help my one daughter’s outstanding teacher start to get the credit she deserves for her hard work. Maybe she can share her successful techniques with others so they can improve. It will also help my other daughter’s teacher understand that just getting by is not enough.
According to a recent New York Post editorial, some are beginning to wonder if the teachers’ union and the Department of Education will, in fact, reach an agreement on a teacher evaluation deal by the January 17 deadline.
The primary reasons for questioning the likelihood of a deal are the fundamental differences between the teachers’ union and the Department of Education. The New York Post explains that the difference in goals may make it difficult to reach an agreement:
The point of a teacher-grading system is to identify which teachers are effective – and which aren’t… But unions are meant to shield teachers from potentially negative outcomes.
Despite those doubting that this deal will be successful, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has remained positive and even increased the pressure on both the teachers’ union and the Department of Education to come to an agreement:
Walcott says there are only days left before final terms can be reached: To meet the state’s Jan. 17 deadline for aid, talks must wrap up by Dec. 21. Walcott says he’s “an eternal optimist” and thus remains hopeful things will go well.
An artile from GothamSchools examines what is standing in the way of an agreement between city and union officials on teacher evaluations.
The City and the union have yet to agree on a standard observation process, including how often observations should take place, what they should focus on, and when to schedule hearings for teachers who want to appeal low ratings.
While the negotiation process is complex, Micah Lasher, executive director of StudentsFirstNY, notes that the opinions of the opposing sides are predictable:
“Generally speaking, the position of the administration is going to be, you know, they want to give principals as much latitude to do more observations with less bureaucracy,” Lasher said. “And I think generally speaking the position of the union is going to be that teachers should have as much notice as possible about those observations and that principals should have a lot of process that they should have to go through both before and after.”
The process for teachers to appeal their ratings has been successfully written into law but will not go into effect until an evaluation system is agreed upon. Even with that agreement, some items will still need to be determined, including when appeals hearings will take place.
Although some of the evaluation system is set by state law, there must be an agreement between the city and the teachers' union by the January 17th deadline, or NYC schools will lose nearly $300 million.
A New York Daily News editorial discusses the negotiations between the teachers' union and city officials on a new teacher evaluation system, noting that the time is running out:
"…despite Gov. Cuomo’s overdue push for districts statewide to embrace professional methods of evaluating teachers — for the first time, factoring in student achievement along with principals’ assessments — the city has yet to come up with such a system."
If leaders fail to reach an agreement by the January 17th deadline, NYC schools will lose nearly $300 million -- a cut that Chancellor Walcott says "will be extremely painful."
Read the full editorial.
Sign the petition urging city officials and teachers union leaders to come to an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system.
As New York City's mayoral hopefuls take to the podium, there has been much discussion surrounding education reform in the City's schools. Mayoral candidates' plans for reform have largely remained unclear, and we can look to recent events in other cities to get an idea of what the future could hold - both good and bad.
According to StudentsFirstNY's Micah Lasher, in a recent New York Post op-ed, we can look to cities like Newark where teachers recently approved a progressive collective-bargaining agreement that will recognize and reward teachers' effectiveness in the classroom:
It’s the first contract in New Jersey to reward highly effective teachers — particularly those teaching hard-to-staff subjects or serving in high-needs schools.
Such progressive reform has not been seen in other cities, such as Chicago where school officials recently made the decision to stop the closure of failing schools on the grounds that it is disruptive to students, parents, and teachers.
Lasher also outlined the great progress that has been made in New York City over the last decade as a result of progressive reform:
Achievement and graduation rates are up after decades of stagnation. And for the first time, we’re having a serious conversation about what it takes to ensure that our graduates are ready for college or a career — an area where there’s still enormous work to do.
Although the exact future of New York City's schools is unclear at this time, it is clear that the City needs a leader who will build on the progress that has been made for schools, teachers, and students.
Today, StudentsFirstNY launched a citywide TV and social media campaign to urge city officials and teachers union leaders to come to an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system before the January 17 deadline. According to the New York Post, almost all stakeholders agree that the current evaluation system is inadequate and does not provide the feedback teachers need.
Micah Lasher, executive director of StudentsFirstNY, said:
“Getting this done is well within reach. It will happen if the folks responsible for making it happen feel they have no choice but to do so. That’s why we’re doing this.”
A parent from East New York commented on the need for a more effective teacher evaluation system:
“Every job you have has an evaluation system. Why shouldn’t [teachers] be evaluated when they have our most precious commodity in their lives every day?”
In a recent op-ed, Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, calls on New York City to move faster on a new teacher evaluation system. Since the Governor's February announcement of the groundbreaking agreement on a new evaluation system for teachers and principals, more than 600 school districts around the state have submitted evaluation plans and 250 of those plans have been approved.
Unfortunately, New York City isn’t one of those districts:
This isn’t just about money, although the city stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if it doesn’t have an approved plan in place by Jan. 17. And it’s not about a “gotcha” system to get rid of teachers. This is about giving teachers and principals the tools they need to strengthen their skills and improve their instruction.
There has also been some debate over using student test scores to measure teacher performance. Tisch explains that even though test scores don’t give a full measure of a teacher’ performance, they are still essential and are adjusted based on student needs:
The student-growth scores provided by the state for teacher evaluations are adjusted for factors such as students who are English Language Learners, students with disabilities and students living in poverty. When used right, growth data from student assessments provide an objective measurement of student achievement and, by extension, teacher performance.
Hundreds of New York school districts and local unions have put successful teacher evaluation plans into place. New York City should be next in line.
The Department of Education and the teachers’ union must reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system before a deadline of January 17, 2013. New York City schools stand to lose $300 million in state education aid if a deal is not reached. Many feel that the current evaluation system inadequate, and does not provide the feedback and development opportunities teachers need.
According to SchoolBook, even teachers themselves are supportive of a new evaluation system. Brooklyn math teacher, Wendy Menard, explained that she wants to improve and grow in her role as a teacher:
“[Teaching is] a profession in which you can constantly grow and, to my mind, one in which you should want to continually grow,” Menard said. “If you don’t want to grow anymore, then I think you shouldn’t be teaching.”