Cuomo's Limited Teacher Evaluation Bill Passed
The New York State Senate and Assembly passed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s bill limiting the release of teacher evaluations to public school parents. The bill’s passage came on the last day of the Legislative session and before the release of statewide math and ELA test results due in August.
The plan was proffered by Governor Cuomo on Monday June 18 and approved on Thursday June 21 by votes of 58 to 1 in the Senate and 118 to 17 in the Assembly. Under the plan, parents will get to see the evaluations of their children’s current teachers and the general public will be able to see evaluation data without teacher names. A statewide system was approved by the Legislature in March.
Parents will be notified by school districts of their right to request teacher and principal performance information and they can receive and review it in any format, including by telephone. The New York State Department of Education will make the evaluations public on its web site but without teacher names. The system goes into effect in January 2013 for about 18,000 New York City teachers.
“I believe that parents have a right to full disclosure when it comes to information about their children’s education and I’m disappointed that this bill falls short of that goal,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a statement reported by the New York Times (June 21, 2012).
Teacher unions, while not completely satisfied with the bill either, expressed their support. “I’m glad it’s over,” said Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of New York State Teachers United (NYSUT).
“I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Speaker (Sheldon) Silver and Majority Leader (Dean) Skelos for their leadership in working to strike an appropriate balance – ensuring that parents can have information about their children’s teachers while helping to prevent the kind of vilification of teachers that resulted from Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence on releasing the misleading and inaccurate Teacher Data Reports last year,” said United Federation of Teachers (UFT) president Michael Mulgrew in a statement.
After a legal decision last February, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) released teacher ratings (0 to 99) to the general public based on student performance in grades 4 through 8 with average error ranges of 35 on the math scores and 53 on the English Language Arts scores. The data was widely reported by news organizations originally requesting it under the Freedom of Information Act.
“What happened in New York City had a profound effect on the elected officials,” said Mulgrew. “They said, we don’t want that to happen. That’s wrong,” he said.
Some legislators are predicting that parents will post the teacher evaluations they are privy to on the Internet and State Senator John Flanagan (R-Suffolk), the chair of the education committee, said he expects changes to be made in the bill over the next six months to a year.
“We’re going to need to watch (the bill) and how it plays out,” said Iannuzzi.
Governor Cuomo, however, said, “I have no intention of revisiting the bill in six months,” according to gothamschools.org, calling the bill “a compromise.”