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New York's New Evaluation Policy Rejected by Gov. Cuomo, Unions

UPDATED

Not enough and too much—that's the reaction from New York's teachers' unions and its own governor, respectively, on the new flexibility recommended yesterday by the state's Board of Regents, which would permit teachers to contest poor evaluation ratings on the grounds that they've not been given enough support on the common core. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a harsh statement on the policy, saying that the new regulation would delay implementation of the teacher-evaluation system. Advocacy groups in the state seem to agree, arguing that the language would make it nearly impossible to dismiss any teacher under the system.

But the New York State United Teachers says that the flexibility doesn't go far enough. In fact, the union claims that existing evaluation regulations already give unions the power to appeal ratings on this basis. It's relying on this passage in the law: 

3012-c (5) a. An appeals procedure shall be locally established in each school district and in each board of cooperative educational services by which the evaluated teacher or principal may only challenge the substance of the annual professional performance review, the school district's or board of cooperative educational services' adherence to the standards and methodologies required for such reviews, pursuant to this section, the adherence to the regulations of the commissioner and compliance with any applicable locally negotiated procedures, as well as the school district's or board of cooperative educational services' issuance and/or implementation of the terms of the teacher or principal improvement plan, as required under this section.

The union argues that the phrase "standards and methodologies" includes whether districts provided appropriate curricula, a NYSUT spokesman said. (I bet attorneys will have a field day hashing out that argument.)

Of course, we'd be remiss not to point out that there could be deeper motivations that explain these reactions. Cuomo counts the 2010 teacher-evaluation law as a major legislative victory and wants to hold onto it, while NYSUT seems unlikely to be appeased by anything short of the three-year moratorium on all stakes attached to common-core testing it has been pushing.

Policy debate or Kabuki theater? You decide.

Updated, 2/11, 2:20 p.m. The Regents approved the evaluation flexibility during a preliminary vote Feb. 10, but then excised it before a final vote on Feb. 11, according to SchoolBook.org. (It appoved all the other flexibilities.) Still, this is probably not the end of this particular battle.

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