Press Release: Governor Cuomo, Senate and Assembly Deliver Landmark Teacher Tenure Reform and Other Major School Improvements in State Budget

"No one disputes that New York’s schools need help, but few are willing to take on the entrenched special interests to transform the system. Governor Cuomo laid out an incredibly ambitious statewide education reform agenda, and with the support of the Senate and Assembly, delivered key and major reforms.

“Teacher tenure reform, long considered the third rail in Albany, was accomplished, making New York one of just 12 states to award tenure after a minimum of four or more years.  This landmark reform will help ensure students are taught by only the best teachers. Governor Cuomo has elevated the teaching profession, setting high standards for who can become a teacher, who can get a job for life, and making it easier to remove those who don’t meet the bar. 

“While others make excuses and point fingers for the problems in education, Governor Cuomo has delivered real improvements that will make schools better and help our students learn. Senate Majority Leader Skelos also deserves great credit for standing up to the status quo special interest crowd and putting the interests of children first.    

"While there's still more to do this session on charters and the education investment tax credit, and more to ensure every child has access to great schools, Governor Cuomo fought hard to make meaningful reforms to tenure, arbitration policies and teacher evaluation criteria and his vision and hard work paid off."


-- Jenny Sedlis, StudentsFirstNY Executive Director

See below for a summary of key reforms in the budget:





Teacher Tenure

Tenure was granted virtually automatically for almost all teachers after three years, regardless of quality.

Tenure is earned after four years and only after three years of demonstrated effectiveness; a teacher cannot be ineffective in the final probationary year. New York is now one of just 12 states to award tenure after a minimum of 4 or more years. 

Teacher Dismissal Process

On average a proceeding to remove an incompetent teacher took 830 days and cost $313,000. Few charges were brought up because the onerous, arcane process was rigged to protect the jobs of ineffective teachers.

All hearings will be heard by a single officer and will last no longer than 90 days. A school district can suspend without pay an employee charged with misconduct that constitutes physical or sexual abuse. A child can now testify via closed circuit TV rather than face his/her attacker. The standard of evidence has changed, lessening the burden on districts.

Charter Schools


Children in public charter schools received about 25% less funding than their district school counterparts.


The funding disparity still exists but is narrowed by $225 per pupil.

Teacher Candidates

While education superpowers like Finland and Singapore recruit top candidates to its education schools, the US consistently recruits teachers from the bottom of the applicant pool.

Teacher preparation programs must put in place higher admissions standards and a minimum GPA of 3.0, and programs that consistently fail to prepare teachers for the classroom will be shut down. Scholarships will be given to high performing students. Bonuses will be given to high performing teachers.

Student Rights

New York had no mechanism to protect students from being assigned to ineffective teachers multiple times, despite the damaging and often irreparable harm done to students.

No student can have an ineffective teacher two years in a row, protecting them from the harmful repercussions of poor instruction.

Teacher Evaluations

The teacher evaluation system worked only in theory, as the validity of the results was often undermined at the local level to ensure all teachers were highly rated.

Teacher evaluations are now significantly more objective, there’s less room for local bargaining to undermine standards, the state has power to set a consistently high bar, and tests have been reduced.

Struggling Schools

250,000 students have passed through persistently failing schools in the last decade, and there was no mechanism that allowed the state to step in to protect students.

If districts fail to turn them around quickly, a "receiver" will be appointed to take charge of New York's worst schools and be given more authority to drive much-needed changes.


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