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Future of Teaching
Examining the divisive push to rate, reward, improve, and remove teachers
June 21, 2013
Toward A Broader Definition Of Teacher Excellence
A few days after a new teacher evaluation system made headlines in New York, I was honored as one of 50 finalists for the Department of Education's Big Apple Awards, designed to “recognize the city’s best teachers and support a system-wide conversation about excellence in the classroom." ... But couldn’t the Department of Education do more to honor not just 50 of “the city’s best” but the great majority of city teachers who work hard for their schools and students every single day?
June 18, 2013
State to use a "value-added" growth model without calling it that
State test scores won't count more toward the evaluations of elementary and middle school teachers next year, according to an amended proposal that a Board of Regents committee passed unanimously on Monday. The proposed model, which was formally approved on Tuesday, included a methodology to calculate student growth that was nearly identical to the "value-added" model that State Education Commissioner John King brought to the board in April. Both models add new data points to the formula used to approximate how much each teacher has contributed to students' growth. But under state law, any model termed "value-added" would have required, controversially, that its weight increase from 20 to 25 percent on some teacher evaluations. King's alternative this month was for the state to adopt an “enhanced growth model” that adds virtually all of the same data points but doesn’t have the value-added moniker. Spurning the name allows the state to avoid increasing the weight of test scores until all districts have at least one year of implementation under their belts, something the state teachers union has asked for. "I would have thought that adding all these factors would qualify as 'value-added,' but this distinction was always opaque," said Jonah Rockoff, a Columbia University economist who advised the state on its methodology "If the commissioner wants to keep the weight at 20 percent for another year then staying within the 'student growth' framework seems like the simplest way to do it."
June 14, 2013
More 'highly effective' growth scores for New York City teachers
New York City teachers fared slightly better than teachers in the rest of the state on metrics that will now factor into their annual ratings. In the city, 8 percent of teachers received ratings of "highly effective" on their state growth scores for the 2011-2012 school year, compared to 6 percent in the rest of the state, according to data that the city released today. Another 76 percent of city teachers netted "effective" ratings, compared to 77 percent in the rest of the state.
June 6, 2013
City translates 241-page evaluation plan into a colorful webinar
A presentation that the Department of Education distributed to principals this week aims to simplify the city's complicated new teacher evaluation system. The Department of Education effort to translate the city's complex new evaluation system into manageable information for the 80,000 teachers who will be rated under it has started with a webinar.
June 5, 2013
On SLOs: the teacher evaluations element you don't know about
Even as the city has aggressively prepared principals and teachers for overhauled observations, which the law required, officials have barely mentioned Student Learning Objectives, a goal-setting tool that will count for 20 percent of most teachers' evaluations next year.
June 4, 2013
With summer break nearing, race is on to fill in evaluation details
Beyond the wins and losses on the city's new teacher evaluation plans, there are questions — and only a short period of time before school staffs disperse for the summer in which to answer them. With school ending in just a few weeks, just when are teams of teachers supposed to choose each school's local assessments, a process that State Education Commissioner John King said must be complete by the first day of classes in September? How will principals whose schedules are already packed add multiple additional observations of each teacher to their calendar? What the heck are Student Learning Objectives? The Department of Education and United Federation of Teachers have each launched breakneck information campaigns to start chipping away at these questions, even as officials are still trying to nail down some of the answers themselves. This month's "Children's First Intensive" for network leaders, taking place in three sessions this week, is geared at "giving people an overview of the commissioner's decision so that they can in turn help answer questions for folks at schools," Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky said today.
June 4, 2013
Student reporters' questions for John King driven by experience
Student reporters video-conferenced with State Education Commissioner John King this morning. Reporters peppered State Education Commissioner John King with questions about all of the expected topics at a press conference this morning: teacher evaluations, college readiness, and Regents exams. But in a twist, the reporters were students whose questions were rooted in their own experience, and who pushed King to consider how his policies play out in their schools.
June 4, 2013
Constructive criticism on evals from Teaching Matters
Lynette Guastaferro, executive director of the nonprofit Teaching Matters, offers this constructive criticism about the city’s new teacher evaluation system, per a press release: …
June 3, 2013
What King decreed, Part II: Growth measures, surveys, and more
The teacher evaluation plan that State Education Commissioner John King set for the city over the weekend has prompted both city and union officials to claim victories. But a point-by-point analysis of some of the major areas of dispute shows that the truth is more complex than either side has proclaimed. We've rounded up some of the biggest disputes and how King settled them. In our first installment, we looked at King's decisions on issues relating to teacher observations. In the second installment, we look at other issues where King bridged gaps between the city's and union's positions. School-based committees to decide student growth measures Outcome: Shared UFT/DOE win Both the city and the UFT agreed that figuring how to calculate the "locally selected" piece of student growth should be decided at the school level. But they disagreed about who should make that decision and about one of the options they should have. The UFT wanted a team of teachers to make the choice, but the city wanted principals to have complete discretion. King accepted the union's suggestion that each school have a committee to draft recommendations for which student growth measure to use. But, siding with the city, he said principals could reject the committee's recommendations.
June 3, 2013
What King decreed, Part I: Danielson, observations, and video
Over the past 48 hours since State Education Commissioner John King set a new teacher evaluation system for New York City, both sides in the dispute have sought to position themselves as winners. First out of the gate was the Bloomberg administration, which compiled a chart outlining its victories and boasted about publicly. But, as union officials argued in an email highlighting their own "wins," it was a cherry-picked list. King imposed the plan after reviewing policy papers (that still have not been made public) and hearing hours of testimony last week. In his written explanation of his decision, he summarized where the two sides differed and where they occasionally agreed — and where he sometimes disagreed with both of them. We've rounded up some of the biggest disputes and how King settled them. In the first part of the roundup, we look at King's decisions on issues relating to teacher observations, which will count for 60 percent of teachers' scores next year. Version of the Danielson rubric Outcome: DOE win One of the only issues, it seemed, that the city and the union could agree on when it came to observations was which rubric to base them on. It turns out they lacked consensus even there.
June 3, 2013
Candidates who'd have to execute evaluations walk a fine line
Mayoral candidates face political considerations when commenting on the city's state-imposed teacher evaluation system. Several have reflected concerns that the UFT raised. For mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, sleeping on the city's new teacher and principal evaluation plans was an illuminating experience. Thompson was the first candidate to issue an official response to the educator evaluation plans that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on the city late Saturday. Speaking less than two hours after King released an overview of the plan, Thompson said the plan represented a victory for the teachers union's approach to evaluating teachers. "Let’s remember where this process started: The mayor wanted to be able to fire teachers at will, because he believes you can somehow fire your way to student success. That approach is now off the table for good," he said. “Instead, teachers are going to get the support and professional development they need." But a day later, Thompson's outlook was less sanguine. He issued a second press release on Sunday afternoon highlighting the many pitfalls that the plan faces in getting implemented.
June 3, 2013
Mayoral candidates walk a fine line on teacher evaluations
For mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, sleeping on the city’s new teacher and principal evaluation plans was an illuminating experience. … Thompson’s backpedaling — which, …
June 2, 2013
Christine Quinn: Evals plan “strikes the right balance”
The mayoral candidate’s campaign just sent over this statement: “As opposed to simply relying on standardized tests as the main measure of teacher performance,…
June 2, 2013
Bloomberg: Eval plan 'a huge rebuff to the UFT's obstructionism'
The teacher evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on New York City on Saturday was a bargain for the city, Mayor Bloomberg said today. Late Saturday, Bloomberg issued a glowing statement about the evaluation plan, which he said had delivered almost everything the city had requested. Today, speaking to reporters at the Celebrate Israel Parade, he repeated the praise and pointed out that the city had not conceded anything to the United Federation of Teachers to get the evaluation system. “New York City now has the strongest teacher evaluation system in the state, bar none, and we didn’t have to give up anything in contract negotiations to get it," he said. "That is almost unprecedented. ... If I said we were going to have this when I came into office 11 and a half years ago, you probably would have started thinking about laughing." The system could end up being revised next year when a new mayor takes office and must negotiate a new contract with the UFT. Union president Michael Mulgrew said on Saturday that he would ask to have the system changed if the rollout over the next several months is not satisfactory. The complete text of Bloomberg's comments, as conveyed by City Hall, is below.
June 2, 2013
Thompson: I’m worried about evaluation bureaucracy.
From a press release from Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign: “We’ve had additional time to review yesterday’s announcement by Commissioner John King with regard to…
June 2, 2013
Bill de Blasio: Executing evals will require rare mutual cooperation
Here’s a statement that Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is running for mayor, sent over about the city’s new evaluation system: “I commend…
June 2, 2013
Weekend reading: New York City's complete evaluation plans
If you’ve finished the Sunday crossword puzzle, it might be time to turn your attention to the full version of New York City’s teacher and…
June 1, 2013
King unveils long-awaited evaluation systems for city educators
The evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on New York City today fulfills requests made by both the Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers. In a unique move, it also delegates crucial decisions about how teachers will be rated to the city's roughly 1,600 non-charter public schools and, in some cases, to teachers themselves. Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked lawmakers to allow King to impose an evaluation system after city and union officials failed to agree on one by a January deadline. Starting from broad parameters set out in state law, each side made its case in position papers and in-person presentations last month, and King issued his final determination tonight. "Following years of delay, today we can finally say that every school district in the state of New York has a teacher evaluation system in place based on some of the most stringent and comprehensive standards in the nation," Cuomo said in a statement. "The mayor didn't win and the union didn't win. Today, the students won. Finally."
June 1, 2013
City education department awards itself a win on teacher evals
Before briefing reporters with their take on the teacher evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on…
June 1, 2013
Union chiefs offer first takes on state-imposed evaluation plans
UFT President Michael Mulgrew offered what appeared to be a tepid endorsement of the teacher evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed today, while Mulgrew's counterpart at the principals union was more favorable about the new plan for rating his members. Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Superintendents, said in a statement that his union had actually reached a deal on evaluations with the city Department of Education late Friday, "with the strong intervention of Commissioner King." He said the deal resembled what had almost been finalized back in January, when the city's negotiations with the teachers union fell apart just before a state deadline. Logan praised the new evaluation system, saying that it "preserves many of the same tools our principals are accustomed to while at the same time substantially improving our due process protections and safeguards." It also provides for helping principals improve, which the old system did not do, he said. Mulgrew's reaction was more circumspect.
June 1, 2013
Read these stories to understand how we got here
What to expect from today’s teacher evaluation agreement (May 11, 2010) Partial teacher evaluation deal clears way for improvement funds (July 15, 2011)…
June 1, 2013
“The reform community will remain vigilant”
That’s what Glen Weiner, the acting executive director of StudentsFirstNY, vowed in a press release about New York City’s new teacher and principal evaluation plans:…
June 1, 2013
Mayoral candidate Albanese: No one is a winner
Sal Albanese, a mayoral candidate who is also a former public school teacher, issued this press release in response to the teacher evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on New York City tonight: "At first glance, Commissioner King appears to be imposing a pretty reasonable teacher evaluation plan on the city. Unlike the Bloomberg administration, King does not seem to delight in the firing of teachers. Instead, as he notes, the new plan makes an effort to help ‘teachers teach better so students can learn better.’
June 1, 2013
Educators 4 Excellence: “Effective implementation will be key”
Jonathan Schleifer, the executive director of the teacher advocacy group, just sent over this statement on the city’s new teacher evaluation system: Commissioner King…
June 1, 2013
Bill Thompson is first mayoral candidate to comment on evaluations
From his campaign’s press release: “Let’s remember where this process started: the Mayor wanted to be able to fire teachers at will, because he…
May 31, 2013
What we know about the evaluation plan that will hit on Saturday
When State Education Commissioner John King sets New York City's teacher evaluation system on Saturday, it will have been a while — three years and three weeks, to be precise — since legislators first set out the parameters. The basic shape of what lawmakers signed off on in May 2010 hasn't changed: 40 percent of ratings will be based on student growth, with half of the section coming from the state's calculation and the other half from a locally determined calculation. The other 60 percent will come from "subjective measures," including but not limited to in-class observations. All classroom teachers will get ratings on a four-tiered system, and districts can move to fire teachers who score "ineffective" for two straight years. But three years of jousting over the specifics have added up. In that time, city and teachers union officials have sat down to negotiate and stormed away, multiple times; legislators have revisited their work, adding new stringencies; principals and teachers have prepared for implementation. What King announces tomorrow will reflect all of those changes — as well as the arguments that the Department of Education and the teachers and principals unions included in pitches to him this month. Because King has only about 24 hours to publish the evaluation system after hearing the final presentation, made by the Council on School Supervisors and Administrators this morning, it seems reasonable to assume that he is focusing his efforts on areas where the parties have failed to agree in the past. Here's a refresher on what we're likely to see on Saturday — and what we're not.
May 31, 2013
What to expect when you’re expecting a teacher evaluation system
When State Education Commissioner John King sets New York City’s teacher evaluation system on Saturday, it will have been a while — three years and…
May 29, 2013
As evaluations process kicks into final stages, King gets advice
State and local education officials are preparing to work through the weekend on a teacher evaluation system that will be imposed on New York City, an outcome that resulted from years of failed labor talks between the city and its teachers union. State Education Commissioner John King gets the final say on how city teachers will be evaluated using a process outlined earlier this month. He'll formally start that process on Thursday, when officials from the Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers each have four hours to present their cases during arbitration hearings. The Council on School Supervisors and Superintendents, which represents principals, is slotted to present during a four-hour block on Friday morning. King plans to release his plan, which is likely to borrow from each group's proposal but does not have to, by Saturday afternoon. City and union officials — and reporters — will then go into high gear to understand the process that King has devised, which will go into effect immediately for next year.
May 28, 2013
Local and national groups advise John King on city evaluation system
Link: Local and national groups advise John King on city evaluation system As State Education Commissioner John King prepares to impose an evaluation…
May 20, 2013
Evaluations for the rest of the workforce
Colorado is moving closer to a system for evaluating counselors, nurses and other school professionals who aren’t classroom teachers.
May 8, 2013
King outlines path for arbitration in NYC's teacher eval dispute
State Education Commissioner John King released details of the arbitration process meant to settle a longstanding dispute over teacher evaluations in New York City. The process, outlined in state law, will determine the city's teacher evaluation system for the next school year. The first part of the process, pre-hearing arbitration, gets kickstarted as soon as the city and the United Federation of Teachers electronically post separate evaluation plans to the state's Review Room website, where districts have uploaded their evaluation plans as they complete them. The state wants to see the specific areas under dispute and will review position papers — limited to 20 pages in length — in which each side argues its respective stands. Those materials are due at 11:59 p.m. today. Both sides say they'll submit before the deadline, rather than submit a jointly negotiated deal. The documents won't be made public. The state has promised confidentiality because the plans are considered "unresolved issues pertaining to ongoing collective bargaining negotiations," which are protected from public scrutiny.
May 7, 2013
As yet another evals deadline arrives, rollout concerns remain
A panel on teacher evaluations focused on implementation concerns. From left: Avram Barlowe, Tom Kane, Linda Rosenbury, Aaron Pallas, and moderator Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children. With New York City on track to let yet another state deadline to come up with a teacher evaluation plan pass on Wednesday, it appears increasingly likely that State Education Commissioner John King will have to impose an evaluation system on the city's schools. But how to put that plan into action remains a question with few easy answers, according to a panel at a New York Bar Association event Monday evening. The panel featured two education researchers who often disagree about some of the thorny issues around teacher evaluations; a principal who sees no need to slow down reforms; and a veteran teacher whose high school is exempt from high-stakes testing. Despite their diverse perspectives, the panelists agreed that city educators are ill prepared to give and receive feedback. And even though the role of test scores has been a hot topic recently, the panelists honed in not on the role that measures of student performance will play in evaluations but on the more subjective elements required by the state's evaluation law, such as observations.
April 23, 2013
Proposal to refine state's "value-added" formula elicits concerns
ALBANY — A dozen new factors could be tossed into the state's formula for measuring how much teachers have boosted their students' state scores, according to a proposal that is dividing state education policy makers. The state’s teacher evaluation law, passed in 2010, requires student performance to count in teacher ratings. Currently, the state calculates “growth scores” that count for a fifth of teachers’ overall ratings. But the law allows the state to increase the weight of its score to a quarter of teachers’ ratings once officials adopt a more complex "value-added" model for assessing teacher impact. Both models are based on the principle that comparing students' actual test scores with their predicted scores can show the impact their teachers had on their learning. The question is what variables to use when predicting scores so that teachers whose students have greater needs are not at a disadvantage.
March 21, 2013
Teacher eval law changes could ease city-labor dispute (again)
For the second year in a row, legislators are revising the state's teacher evaluation law in part because of New York City's difficulties in complying with it. The legislature is expected to insert new language into the law to clarify that plans stay in effect even after they expire, according to officials briefed on the budget legislation, which has not been finalized. Concerns that a negotiated plan would default back to the current system was one reason talks between the Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers broke down earlier this year. The change would ensure that, moving forward, no districts could ever be without an evaluation system. To enforce that teachers are being evaluated according to the system, a new state aid penalty will be imposed on districts that fail to implement their plans.
March 13, 2013
Lighter NYC schools penalty could help budget talks progress
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan praised the news that New York City's state school budget penalty would be temporary. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was not satisfied with the surprising announcement that New York City's steep budget penalty would be temporary, but his education committee chair said she thinks the news could could ease budget negotiations in Albany. "To me that means we're halfway there," Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan said today during the legislature's joint hearing on the state's proposed education budget. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Assembly, and the State Senate have each proposed spending plans and they must come to a consensus before the end of the month. This year, because Passover and Easter fall at the end of March, legislators are shooting for a final budget by next week, which means they must strike a deal by the end of the weekend to meet timeline requirements.
March 11, 2013
Bill would tweak evaluation law
A new House bill would require teachers' unions to have a say when school districts develop their own educator evaluation systems.
February 27, 2013
City's school budget cuts move forward while state's are on ice
A court order and support from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver aren't enough to stop the city from slashing its schools budget this year. City officials said today that they were fiscally obligated to move forward in making a midyear budget adjustment to account for an expected $250 million deficit during the final months of the school year, even though a judge has for now barred the state from taking back the funds. The move has the attorney who convinced the judge to halt the state budget cuts planning to sue the city, too.
February 25, 2013
As evaluations impasse grinds on, a new way to reward teachers
The Department of Education's new awards program will recognize ten top teachers this spring. New York City might not have a new teacher evaluation system yet, but new efforts are underway nonetheless to reward the city's best teachers. The Department of Education announced today the creation of the "Big Apple Awards" program to identify and honor teachers who make an "exceptional impact" on student performance. Ten teachers will win cash prizes and classroom grants when the winners are announced in June. In a statement today, Chancellor Dennis Walcott encouraged parents, administrators, students, educators, and community members to nominate teachers. Teachers can also nominate themselves. Top nominees will be invited to submit formal applications, and department officials will visit the finalists' classrooms before selecting the winners. The new model of rewarding a small number of teachers based on community nominations is a far cry from the merit pay system the Bloomberg administration had hoped to be implementing by now.
February 20, 2013
Cuomo: Process to impose city's eval system would start in May
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to have state education officials impose teacher evaluations on New York City would begin in just three months, he announced today in Albany. Premiering a slate of budget amendments that he will formally propose on Thursday, Cuomo said he would ask legislators to approve an amendment that would allow the state education commissioner to select a plan well in advance of Sept. 1, the deadline for districts to have evaluation plans in place for the 2013-2014 school year. "What this law will say is that the State Education Department must render a decision by June 1 for the September deadline," Cuomo said. In late May, the city and United Federation of Teachers would be asked to submit their proposals for what an evaluation system should look like, according to Lawrence Schwartz, Cuomo's top aide. But all of the details would be fully up to State Education Commissioner John King, as long as they follow the state's evaluation law, Cuomo said. UFT President Michael Mulgrew signaled that he would not mind letting King have the final say on the evaluation system that is adopted in the city.
February 19, 2013
As latest teacher eval deadline nears, renewed pressure for deal
A screenshot from Educators 4 Excellence's new television ad, which encourages a quicker adoption of new teacher evaluations in New York City than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal would allow.Gov. Andrew Cuomo is getting an onscreen assist from advocates as he gears up to make yet another next move to get New York City to adopt new teacher evaluations. But his bid for more authority could face an uphill battle in the legislature. After the city and teachers union failed to agree on an evaluation system by his Jan. 17 deadline, Cuomo announced that he would use this year's budget cycle to seek the right to impose a system on the city. Under his plan, legislators would write the right into state law when they sign off on this year's state budget. Budget amendments are due this week, and Fredric Dicker of the New York Post reported over the weekend that Cuomo is planning to propose language that would allow him to impose a teacher evaluation system on New York City if one is not in place by Sept. 17. That's not fast enough for some advocates of new teacher evaluations. The teacher advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence, which has been lobbying for new teacher evaluations, is running a television ad this week arguing that Cuomo should impose an evaluation system well before September.
February 12, 2013
Actually, N.Y. did okay one city school's teacher evaluation plan
Staten Island's John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School is the only school in the city and the only charter school in the state with a state-approved teacher evaluation plan. In the aftermath of New York City's failed teacher evaluation negotiations, a small detail has gone unnoticed: There actually is one city school with a state-approved teacher evaluation system. Surprised? "We were surprised, too," said Ken Byalin, president of John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School, a Staten Island secondary school with an emphasis on serving students with emotional challenges. "When we saw there were no approved plans by charter schools, we thought, 'Oh my god, what are we doing?'” Byalin said. “We were out in front in a way we hadn’t expected to be." Though alone among charter schools, Lavelle is hardly the only school in the state to beat the city Department of Education to creating a teacher evaluation system: More than 700 districts did. But as the smallest school in the state to write a system in line with the state's requirements, Lavelle offers a unique look inside what teacher evaluation requires.
February 11, 2013
Officials reassess state tests in wake of attendance disruptions
ALBANY — As state exams near, education officials are growing increasingly anxious about the large swath of city students whose schooling has been interrupted this year by Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing school bus drivers' strike. Speaking to members of the Board of Regents at their monthly meeting today, Chancellor Merryl Tisch said she thought students with disabilities who have not been able to get to school should not have to take the state's math and reading tests in April. "I'm not comfortable asking this population to sit for state exams when they have missed chunks of the school year," said Tisch, who pressed State Education Commissioner John King on the State Education Department's authority to waive test requirements. The city is mulling its options about how to use the test results of students with a high number of unavoidable absences, a spokeswoman said today.
February 11, 2013
City's evaluation rollout plan ignores state's latest requests
The city Department of Education delivered a plan for how it will implement new teacher and principal evaluations to the state ahead of schedule today — but without giving state officials much of the information they asked for. According to a memo that Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent today to the state, the city plans to spend $23 million in the next six months preparing city educators for a new evaluation system. The memo is a response to State Education Commissioner John King's demand, made last month after the city and teachers union failed to agree on a new teacher evaluation system, that the city detail its implementation plans or lose state funds. The plan that Walcott delivered today is broader than the highlights that city officials released last week. In addition to dealing just with teacher and administrator training about the observation model the city is planning to use to assess teachers in action, the memo also explains how city educators will learn about some components of evaluations that must be based on student performance. It also delineates different training programs for teachers, principals, department officials and attaches a price tag to each one. But for the most part, the plan contains only the bare minimum of what city officials were told on Friday should be included in their implementation plan. In response to requests for guidance from the city, the state official overseeing review and approval of all evaluation plans, Julia Rafal-Baer, sent a chart to Chancellor Dennis Walcott with dozens of "key questions" whose answers do not appear in the plan the city submitted today.
February 7, 2013
City’s draft eval training plan heavy on principals, needy schools
City Department of Education officials think they'll be able to train 1,600 principals and 80,000 teachers to use new a evaluation system by the end of the year, and they plan to let the state know before a deadline next week. The deadline is one that State Education Commissioner John King set last month after the city and teachers union failed to agree on a new teacher evaluation system: By Feb. 15, he said, the city would have to detail its implementation plans or lose more state funds. A summary of the draft memo, that department officials released today, is light on details and focuses almost entirely on how administrators will be trained to use a new rubric for classroom observations. It promises real-time training for principals, extra support for administrators at struggling schools, and instruction for network officials and superintendents. It also includes a proposed requirement for six hours of training for teachers, which a teacher who saw the plan last week said would not be enough. "A lot of teachers are frustrated about that because there is a lack of resources for teachers to learn how to apply the rubric or shift their practice to the rubric," said the teacher.
January 30, 2013
Cuomo proposes state takeover in NYC teacher eval impasse
Appearing with legislative leaders this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he would seek the right to take over teacher evaluation planning in New York City if local negotiations fall through again. Cuomo said he still hoped Mayor Bloomberg and teachers union president Michael Mulgrew can break their impasse and agree to a deal on their own terms. But the two sides have failed to reach a deal for more than a year, despite mounting financial penalties for the city, and they fiercely defended their positions in back-to-back legislative hearings this week. Negotiations resumed this week, and Cuomo said he's planning to "firmly request" they get a deal done. "If they don't, then let the state step in and let the state ... determine the evaluation process and impose it on the city of New York," said Cuomo, who was flanked at a press conference by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos.
January 29, 2013
Mulgrew faces legislators, as Walcott promises to revisit sunset
ALBANY — Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan kept her promise to question UFT President Michael Mulgrew with the same tenacity as when she interrogated Mayor Bloomberg on Monday. Nolan chastised Bloomberg for his role in New York City's failure to reach a teacher evaluation deal, which will likely cost the city $240 million in state school aid. Today, she told Mulgrew, "This is the fault of labor and management together." Nolan chairs the Assembly's education committee and usually sympathizes with the union on education issues. "It is unbelievable to me that this union, with its great history, could not negotiate this deal," Nolan added as she questioned Mulgrew, whose testimony before the legislature was supposed to be about the 2013-2014 state budget but focused instead on the failed evaluation deal and issues surrounding upcoming assessments aligned to new standards. Mulgrew and Chancellor Dennis Walcott, whose testimony earlier in the day generated less confrontation, both told the legislature that they are open to resuming negotiations. Walcott even conceded that a misunderstanding could have fueled one major issue preventing a deal.
January 29, 2013
As education hearings get underway, City-UFT eval talks resume
State Education Commissioner John King was the first official to testify on the 2013-2014 budget this morning. Albany — A day after Mayor Bloomberg declared the chances of a teacher evaluation deal with the city's teachers union "impossible," both sides confirmed this morning that they are returning to the table. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew first announced that talks were set to resume at the union's legislative breakfast this morning, the Daily News reported. The announcement comes hours before Mulgrew is set to testify before the state Assembly and Senate education committees about the 2013-2014 budget. He is among dozens of education officials and advocates who will make their case to the legislature about what they like and what they don't like about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal.
January 29, 2013
No across-the-board midyear budget cuts, but trimming begins
Schools won't have to cut their budgets this month, but they will have to start tightening their belts and won't be able to sock away any savings for next year. That's what Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals in an email sent Monday evening, the first to name specific actions the Department of Education is taking to make up for $240 in state school aid sacrificed when the city and teachers union failed to agree on new teacher evaluations earlier this month. Mayor Bloomberg is set to offer details about his plans to close the midyear school budget gap at a press conference later today. But Walcott said the department would absorb enough of the cuts centrally that he would not have to impose cuts of a certain size on each school, as happened several times during the leanest years of the economic recession. Still, he announced several significant policy changes that could cost schools just the same. The department is doubling down on hiring restrictions, blocking schools from hiring substitute teachers, reducing aides' schedules, and seizing funds that principals had set aside in this year's budget for next year.
January 28, 2013
State aid cuts would cost city 2,500 teachers, Bloomberg says
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Page, his budget director, testified in Albany today about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget, which would penalize the city again for not adopting new teacher evaluations. ALBANY — New York City would have to cut 2,500 teaching positions over the next two years under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget plans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told lawmakers this morning. Appearing at a hearing about Cuomo's budget proposal, Bloomberg focused on the school aid that would be withheld because the city and teachers union have not agreed on new teacher evaluations. The city already lost out on $240 million in state aid this year as a consequence of missing a Jan. 17 deadline that was written into law and could lose another $224 million next year if Cuomo goes through with his plan to tie school aid to evaluations again. The cost of that penalty would be severe, Bloomberg told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, forcing cuts to city schools' spending on personnel and programming. Bloomberg blamed the UFT, again, for the city's shortfall and also criticized the State Education Department, which is threatening to penalize the city further by withholding some resources for high-need students. But during a fierce exchange with Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who chairs the education committee, the blame also landed briefly on Bloomberg himself. Nolan pointed out that Bloomberg had supported the law that paved the way for the union and the city to reach a deal on evaluations last February. She recited Bloomberg's comments at the time the law was passed (“This is a win-win-win for the kids and for the adults”). "Don't you feel some responsibility for this disaster?" she asked. "And it is a disaster."
January 23, 2013
Walcott: Teacher layoffs not on table after eval deal collapse
The collapse of teacher evaluation talks comes with many costs, but teacher layoffs won't be among them, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. The Department of Education is set to forgo $240 million in increased state school aid after it failed to agree on a new evaluation system with the teachers union by a state deadline last week. State officials have since said the city will have to go without far more funding until it adopts a new evaluation system. Last week, Mayor Bloomberg said it was "much too early to tell” whether the losses would require teacher layoffs, which he has threatened but never carried out in the past. But during a radio appearance today, Walcott said teacher layoffs are not on the table. "We're not looking at layoffs," he told host John Gambling, whose show has been a forum for city, union, and state officials to stake their positions in the conflict.
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