New York’s top two education officials on Wednesday backed a plan to revamp the way school districts assess their teachers and principals, recommending changes that would make it easier to remove ineffective educators from the classroom.
In a letter Wednesday to a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and soon-to-be-acting Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin called for teachers and principals who receive two consecutive “ineffective” ratings on their annual evaluations to be removed.
Tisch and Berlin’s plan also calls for reducing the role local teachers unions and school districts have in determining the rubric for evaluating educators, calling for the state to prescribe scoring ranges for the portion of the evaluations not based on student test scores.
“A teacher who has received two consecutive Ineffective ratings should not be permitted to return to the classroom,” Berlin and Tisch wrote.
The letter came two weeks after Cuomo’s Director of State Operations Jim Malatras requested that the state Education Department lay out its position on a variety of teacher- and school-related issues. It also came two days after Cuomo vetoed a bill — which he originally negotiated and proposed in June — that would have temporarily shielded from being disciplined for poor student scores on Common Core-based tests.
Cuomo has pledged to make significant changes to the teacher-evaluation system in the coming year, and lawmakers are slated to return to the state Capitol in early January.
But such changes are likely to be met with opposition from the New York State United Teachers union, which held a protest Wednesday outside of the Executive Mansion in Albany, where Cuomo and partner Sandra Lee were hosting an open house and receiving line.
Union members said they will also protest Thursday evening outside Cuomo’s inaugural speech in Buffalo, as well as his State of the State address on Jan. 7.
NYSUT President Karen Magee, who formerly headed the local teachers union in Harrison, Westchester County, said Tisch should focus on the “real issues” in education.
“The conversation needs to be about poverty, it needs to be about funding schools, it needs to be about properly doing what’s right for education,” Magee said. “That’s smaller class sizes, that’s funding of pre-K, that’s community schools.”