New York’s Cuomo Vetoes His Own Education Bill


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed the bill he once supported that would have banned the use of student test scores in the firing of bad teachers.

Just last June, Cuomo proposed the bill that he said would “protect New York’s standing as a national leader in teacher evaluation.”  And yet now Cuomo has now vetoed that same bill, saying it does not “fix the foundational issues with the teacher evaluation system.”

The bill would have provided teachers and principals placed in the bottom two rankings on the state’s new teacher evaluations with a “safety net.”  Teachers and principals who receive one of these two rankings, developing or ineffective, in this school year and next, would have had those ratings recalculated without using the portion that takes into account student test scores.  The higher rating of the two would have been used.

Teachers who are given the rating of ineffective for two years in a row can be fired.

“This is just disrespectful to teachers,” Karen E. Magee, president of the teachers’ union, New York State United Teachers, said Monday night.

“He’s already acknowledged that the Common Core tests were invalid or not reliable indicators of student progress,” Ms. Magee said. “He hit the stall button for the students already, so to not do this, it makes no sense.”

After the state introduced the new math and English tests aligned with the federal Common Core standards this year, students saw a drop in their test scores.  The aftermath caused parents and teachers to complain that not enough time had been given to teachers to prepare for the new exams, writes Kate Taylor for The New York Times.

In response, measures were included in this year’s budget to protect students from those test scores.  Test scores were not allowed to be included on transcripts until 2018.  In addition, schools were not allowed to use the scores as the deciding factor with regards to promotions and placement.

The New York State United Teachers had argued that if students were shown leniency on the issue, then teachers should be given leeway, too.  Cuomo had previously not wanted to make changes to the teacher evaluation system, but he eventually reached a compromise with the union, and wrote the bill with a message of necessity attached so that the Legislature would not have to comply to the typical three-day waiting period, reports Carl Campanile for The New York Post.

However, after the primary election, which saw the union endorse the governor’s teacher-friendly opponent Zephyr Teachout, Cuomo began talking about making the teacher evaluation system even harsher.  After the state released the second round of evaluations this month, which showed fewer than 1% of teachers in the state as being rated ineffective, Cuomo claimed the results were “not real” and that the evaluations needed to be tougher.

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