NY Parents Retain Right to View Teacher Evaluations

Teacher evaluations can continue to be seen by parents who file requests under the Freedom of Information laws after Albany rejects union bid to limit access.

Parents in New York will continue to be able to access teacher evaluation under state Freedom of Information laws. There were fears that a teacher privacy measure would be attached to the budget bill to placate unions already angry over reforms to their pension schemes. However those committed to public accountability for teachers can relax again now:

“There were discussions in terms of seeing if there was a way you could balance the parents’ right to know and some sort of (teacher) privacy rights, but there’s no resolution of that, so it will stay as it is,” state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) said.

It was unclear if Governor Cuomo would have agreed to any such restrictions of what should be public data, however. A spokesman for the Governor had already indicated that he considered reducing public accountability to be counterproductive to the purpose of teacher evaluations.

Among those who will be relieved that no concessions were made is New York City Mayor Bloomberg:

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg said restricting the information made no sense.

He said there is no reason to have a teacher grading system if parents don’t have access to the information so they can make informed decisions on where to send their kids.

“It would be the height of arrogance on the state . . . to say the parents don’t have a right to the data,” Bloomberg said.

This result is another major failure for the teacher unions, who had been pushing hard for restricted access to the evaluations. However the battle for education reforms that involve making teachers accountable for poor performance is far from won, and more lawsuits and high pressure negotiations are to be expected as unions continue to battle any measure they see as detrimental to their influence or power.

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