We’re still piecing together what Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s teacher evaluations announcement today means for the state — and, even more bafflingly, just what the city and United Federation of Teachers have agreed to.
But the complex nature of today’s announcement hasn’t stopped education stakeholders from around the state from sounding off about it. We’ve compiled reactions to Cuomo’s announcement from unbridled exuberance to measured optimism to — in the case of the UFT President Michael Mulgrew — cynicism about what is likely to come next.
From Dick Iannuzzi, head of New York State United Teachers, which agreed on a new evaluations framework with the state:
Teachers support high standards and accountability for our profession. We believe today’s agreement is good for students and fair to teachers. It includes two principles we believe are essential. First, a child is more than a standardized test score. While there is a place for standardized testing in measuring teacher effectiveness, tests must be used appropriately. Secondly, the purpose of evaluations must be to help all teachers improve and to advance excellence in our profession. This agreement acknowledges those key principles. The settlement also reinforces how important it is for teachers to have a voice in establishing standards of professional effectiveness and in developing evaluations that meet the needs of local communities.
From State Education Commissioner John King:
The goal is and always has been to help students – to give them every opportunity to succeed in college and careers. To make that happen, we need to improve teaching and learning. We owe it to our students to make sure every classroom is led by an effective teacher and every school is led by an effective principal. Today, the Governor’s leadership and his commitment to our students have helped us take a strong step toward that goal.
From UFT President Michael Mulgrew:
The UFT and the Governor have reached an agreement on an appeal process for New York City teachers that includes the kind of independent, third party component that the UFT has been seeking.
The appeal process will not go into effect unless and until Mayor Bloomberg negotiates agreements with the UFT for an overall teacher evaluation deal or for schools eligible for School Improvement Grants (SIGs).
I want to congratulate Governor Cuomo and NYSUT for their hard work in finding common ground on the statewide issues that separated them. Their agreement recognizes that students are more than a test score. I also want to thank the Governor for his efforts to find a similar resolution for the issues that separate the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg. The Mayor’s obsession with closing schools presents a significant barrier to us reaching that overall agreement.
From Ernest Logan, head of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators:
Today, the Governor’s office announced that an agreement has been reached between the State Education Department and education unions over a new teacher and Principal evaluation system. We thank the Governor for his leadership in pursuit of a fair and transparent evaluation system that acknowledges local collective bargaining. We urge Commissioner King to bring all parties together here in NYC in an effort to avoid placing 33 schools into a ‘Turnaround’ mode that would arbitrarily close them down and quickly reopen them under new names.
From Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch:
This agreement is a significant improvement over the evaluation law passed in 2010. But our work is by no means over. The Regents have adopted a major education reform plan, and teacher and principal evaluations are just a part of that reform. Today is a good day, but the best day will be when we’ve fully implemented the Regents reforms and we’ve made sure all our students get the education they need to succeed in college and careers.
From Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who four days ago implored the city to come to an agreement with the UFT:
Governor Cuomo has brokered a historic agreement with the United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers that puts our children’s education first. Once again we have proof that dialogue and good-faith negotiating deliver far more than posturing and threats ever could. The deal reached today preserves vital federal funding for struggling schools across the city and state, and puts in place a long-overdue system to fairly evaluate teachers. This agreement erases the Bloomberg Administration’s flawed rationale for closing 33 schools and firing half of their teachers—a plan intended as a threat to wring concessions from the UFT. The Mayor must immediately halt those plans and recognize that today’s historic announcement deserves the City’s complete support.
From Elizabeth Ling, the state’s director of Democrats for Education Reform:
In reaching this groundbreaking agreement on teacher evaluations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reminded us what it looks like when leaders lead. This is a complicated deal with lots of moving pieces, but the Governor skillfully pulled them all together and the end result is a pragmatic agreement that’s great for students. That it’s also a great deal for teachers, parents, and taxpayers is icing on the cake. We long ago pegged New York as a ‘follower’ when it comes to education issues, but today our education and political leaders showed that the Empire State can, and should, be a pace-setter once again.
From Hannya Boulous, the director of an upstate reform group, Buffalo ReformED:
I commend Governor Cuomo for facilitating an agreement to create a transformative teacher evaluation system that finally pushes politics aside and focuses on the real objective of improving New York’s education system. Students have been forced to be a part of a system that was internally broken, as New York State outspends the rest of nation on education, yet is only ranked 38th in graduation rates. The Governor has cut right to the heart of the issue and helped those who have suffered the most: our students. A stronger and more effective teacher evaluation benefits both students and teachers, by clearing the path for improved instruction and professional development opportunities. This is the first big step in turning our schools around.
From Educators 4 Excellence, which outlined its dream teacher evaluation system last year:
Finally! This historic agreement will for the first time give classroom teachers the meaningful feedback they need to improve their performance and help their students achieve. This multi-measured solution is very much in line with what Educators 4 Excellence members proposed nearly a year ago and we’re thrilled our voices were heard. It offers the right combination of student test data, multiple observations and a fair and streamlined appeals process that creates opportunities for struggling teachers to get better. Governor Cuomo deserves enormous credit for breaking through the gridlock and delivering such a strong plan. We applaud Mayor Bloomberg for his commitment to giving teachers the tools they need to succeed and UFT President Mulgrew for recognizing how important this feedback is to his members. They all showed great leadership on the issue.
From the Columbia University leader of Students for Education Reform, Ashley Williams:
This new evaluation system will develop teachers to provide high quality instruction to all students. As both a recent classroom student and a future teacher, I am very confident that this system will improve the quality of teachers statewide and ultimately benefit student learning.