Gov. Andrew Cuomo today warned schools that he will propose his own teacher evaluation system on Thursday if school districts and unions can’t reach a deal by then.
Cuomo has been warning schools and the New York United Teachers union that he would include in his 30-day budget amendments a new system to evaluate teacher performance if the sides didn’t come up with their own agreement. The 30-day amendments — which are changes to the governor’s proposed budget that was released Jan. 17 — are due Thursday.
“If you don’t have it done by the time I amend the budget, I’ll put in my own evaluation system because it’s taken two years,” Cuomo said today on the public-radio show The Capitol Pressroom. “We need the evaluation system. We’re also at risk of losing $700 million in federal funds if we don’t have an evaluation system.”
NYSUT and the state Education Department agreed two years ago to legislation that would strengthen teacher evaluations, in part by tying in student performance on standardized tests. Legislation adopted in 2010 helped New York secure nearly $700 million in federal Race to the Top money.
The law took effect this school year for teachers in grades 4-8 and their building principals, and will cover all teachers and principals in the 2012-13 school year, which starts July 1.
Many school districts have yet to agree on all details of the system with teachers unions, and NYSUT is in court trying to block some of the law from taking hold. The federal government is also threatening to withhold the $700 million if New York doesn’t get the evaluation system up and running.
Meanwhile, Cuomo wants the 2010 law scrapped. He is calling for a law that puts more weight on student test scores in evaluating teachers.
“I’m an optimist but I’m still hopeful that they will get there,” Cuomo said of the sides reaching a deal by Thursday. “In the meantime, I’m working on my own evaluation system that I will put in on Thursday in the event that the state education department and unions are still unable to.”
Cuomo said his plan would “be more straightforward. It’s a very complicated law right now.”
“Meetings and discussions continue,” NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said today. “We are hopeful that a settlement can be reached before Thursday’s deadline.”