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In New York, Lawmakers Debate Yet Another Commission on Teacher Evaluation

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Will New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo succeed in using his 2015-16 budget request to make a number of high-profile changes to teacher policy in the state?

Earlier this week, I reported on the governor's plan to hold back more than $700 million in budget aid unless lawmakers in Albany agree to several high-profile changes, including raising the state's charter school cap, increasing the length of time it takes a teacher to earn tenure, and increasing the weight of student test scores in teachers' performance reviews. Those proposals have infuriated the teachers' unions.

Since my story ran, there have been a number of developments in the statehouse—most notably a deal reportedly being worked out between Cuomo, a Democrat, and the state Senate, which is held by Republicans. Capital New York has a good rundown of the situation. The underlying idea seems to be some kind of commission, with gubernatorial and legislative appointees, that would craft a new teacher-evaluation system. Assembly Democrats, on the other hand, aren't enamored of this idea.

If this all sounds a little familiar, it should: The governor put together an Education Reform Commission just a few years ago. It released a 2013 report on a number of topics, including teacher evaluation. (I suspect educators in New York must be getting very confused by, and possibly weary of, all these panels.)

It's not clear whether any recommendations by this commission would have the force of law, be subject to the legislative process, and whether the budget aid would be released before or after the commission finished its deliberations. Stay tuned to this fast-moving story.

Photo: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol on March 18 in Albany, N.Y. —Mike Groll/AP​

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