New York State and Teachers Union Reach Evaluation Deal

New York State education officials and the state teachers’ union have reached an agreement on a new evaluation system on the last day before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo could submit his amendments to the state budget. The system will include a detailed ranking system for teachers, as well as plans to work with lower-rated teachers to foster improvement.

While there were some signs on Wednesday that the two parties were getting close to an agreement, the deal was struck in the final few hours before the deadline set by Gov. Cuomo, who had threatened to impose his own way to measure the quality of teachers’ work, writes Mary Ann Giordano at the New York Times.

The governor said that they needed to reach a deal by midnight on Thursday before he would have to submit his own system and penalize any districts that do not have systems in place by withholding extra state aid, writes Fernanda Santos and Winnie Hu at the New York Times.

And while Tom Precious at The Buffalo News blogged that a deal was likely not coming, the last minute agreement puts New York state one step closer to safeguarding $700 million in federal education aid.

The deal marks an end to a near two-year stalemate between New York City’s teachers and its Education Department over how teachers classified as ineffective could appeal that rating. And now, under the agreement, school districts will now be able to base up to 40 percent of a teacher’s annual review on student performance on state standardized tests.

Governor Cuomo said:

“It’s a victory for all New Yorkers.

“Government works, and that makes this state a better state.”

The deal was reached finally at 5:30 a.m. on the day of the deadline. Negotiations ended in Albany and New York City with Gov. Cuomo fixing final details through e-mails and phone calls with his negotiators.

Mayor Bloomberg said that the deal resolved “the lion’s share of issues” between the city and its teachers’ union.

“Historic is probably not too strong a word to use.”

Under the new system, teachers are ranked ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective, and those ranked as “ineffective” will be given a development plan to address weaknesses.

Gov. Cuomo gave school districts across the state until January to sign off on their version of the evaluation system or else lose their 4 percent increase in education aid. And now, as a deal looks to be finally struck, the $58 million in federal funding that schools should receive will be restored.

However, Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) said that if the plan goes ahead it will be “very difficult” to put an evaluation system in place in the city.

But as nearly 100 districts had already reached agreements with their local unions and another 250 had agreed on key parts, state officials can be confident that Governor Cuomo’s plans will soon be implemented statewide.