NYS Gov. Cuomo Angers Teachers Union With Education Plan Featuring Performance Ratings Tied To Student Tests

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) education plan that provides a new system for teacher evaluations and a firing process for ineffective teachers has drawn the ire of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).

State lawmakers approved a new $142 billion budget that includes Cuomo’s education plan which, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal, the governor says will be “one of the greatest legacies” he leaves for New York State.

Cuomo’s teacher evaluation system, still to be finalized by the state Education Department in June, provides for teacher performance ratings to be tied to student scores on state tests – ultimately the tests that are aligned with the Common Core standards. Additionally, schools would be required to begin a termination process for those teachers rated as “ineffective” for three consecutive years.

The new system also contains a plan for taking over unsuccessful schools through the appointment of a state-approved “receiver” who would make adjustments.

In a press release, however, NYSUT referred to Cuomo’s changes to the teacher evaluation system and the state’s tenure laws as a “sham” and a “disgrace.”

Charging that Cuomo “is so enamored with hedge fund money,” NYSUT continued:

Let’s be absolutely clear: NYSUT rejects this evaluation system. It is an unworkable, convoluted plan that undermines local control, disrespects principals and school administrators, guts collective bargaining and further feeds the testing beast. It does nothing to help students and will do nothing to foster the professional dialogue and collaboration that is essential to helping New York’s already strong teaching force become stronger. Ironically, this will only make it harder for school districts in impoverished communities to attract and retain the excellent teachers that students need and deserve.

In an interview on The Capitol Pressroom, NYSUT president Karen Magee said Cuomo’s plan is not research-based and not good for schools or students.

“The governor wants to go ‘test and punish,’ that’s his goal,” she said.

Magee sent out her own shockwaves when she urged parents to opt their children out of state-mandated tests.

“I am saying at this time that I would urge parents to opt out of testing,” she asserted.

In an interview last week, also on The Capitol Pressroom, Cuomo said that, “arguably the most important thing the government does is education.”

“We are redesigning, reforming the entire education system, which is a $50 billion industry in the state,” the governor said.

As Breitbart News reported in December, Cuomo vetoed legislation his own administration drafted that would have delayed the implementation of a new teacher performance evaluation system tied to student performance on state tests.

NYSUT had advocated for a two-year “safety net” for teachers and principals who were rated poorly in the new system, allowing student state test performance removed from the educator evaluations.

During his re-election bid last November, Cuomo pledged in a television ad “not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready.”

After NYSUT argued that if the governor could delay test score use for students, he could do the same for teachers, Cuomo relented and drew up a measure to provide “short-term protections for educators.”

However, when the union failed to endorse him, and December’s teacher evaluations revealed that less than one percent of teachers were rated “ineffective,” Cuomo insisted the system needed to be more rigorous.

These evaluation results “are not an accurate assessment – only 0.7 percent of teachers were rated ‘ineffective’ under the [Annual Professional Performance Review], and so the legislation is unnecessary,” Cuomo wrote in his veto message. “These temporary provisions do not fix the foundational issues with the teacher evaluation system. Given what we know now, it would make no sense to sign this bill and further inflate these already inflated ratings.”

“This is just disrespectful to teachers,” said Magee. “He hit the stall button for the students already, so to not do this, it makes no sense.”

 


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