It certainly takes a massive leap of faith to assume that anything meaningful will emerge from the legislation Cuomo has proposed.
This, again, is because Commissioner King doesn’t work for Cuomo. He works for the state Board of Regents and, specifically, for Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch.
And Tisch owes her position solely to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — plus to the state Constitution, which severely restricts the direct control governors have over education policy.
The Constitution requires that regents, and the chancellor, be elected by the entire Legislature — sitting as a single body. And since Silver’s Democratic conference outnumbers all other lawmakers combined, he has the whip hand.
Which he exercised with his elevation of Tisch to what is nominally one of the most powerful public-education jobs in America. But while puppet may be too strong a word to describe Tisch’s actual role, she’s not remotely likely to buck him on matters of this magnitude.
So what is Silver’s interest?
Well, let’s just say that the influence the public employee unions enjoy over the speaker and his Assembly Democrats is profound. And that none of those unions are more influential than the UFT and its parent organization, New York State United Teachers.
So it’s not hard to see where all this is heading.
Without reference to King’s good faith, Tisch’s independence or Cuomo’s sincerity, it remains that that the state Education Department itself has been in near-total thrall to Silver and the teachers for years — indeed, decades.
Thus it’s simply not reasonable to expect that the three could force the department to exercise real independence on teacher evaluations, even if they wanted to.
Not in the immediate case, and certainly not over time.
So much for Cuomo’s “perpetuity.”
So much, in fact, for the notion that there is anything fundamentally different in this approach than from what has come before.
The UFT has had an effective veto over meaningful evaluations all along. While it may allow Silver to engineer a fig-leaf accommodation this time around — the union, after all, stands to regain effective control of city schools once Bloomberg leaves office — there’s no reason to believe that significant numbers of bad teachers will wind up losing their jobs.
I don't buy this.
Tisch and King have promoted deform policies since they took their positions of power in Albany - from promoting the Endless Testing regime to teacher evaluations tied to test scores.
In addition, the UFT and the NYSUT have promoted ed deform policies as well - from signing off on the original Race to the Top legislation which changed the evaluation systems around the state and tied them to test scores to dropping the lawsuit against the Tisch/King/Cuomo policy change around the 40% test score threshold (a lawsuit which they won, btw.)
The Regents Chancellor, the NYSED Commissioner and the NYSUT and UFT Presidents are all on board to push through the same kind of test score-based education deform policies - and those are the kinds of policies and "reforms" we have been getting out of Albany.
Perhaps these reforms do not go far enough for McManus and the Posties - that's a different issue.
But make no mistake, no one should take any solace that the UFT is allegedly going to have influence over the King/Tisch evaluation system that is imposed on us in June.
The UFT leadership have shown themselves to be in bed with the deform movement and the system we will get will be a deform system that turns schools into test prep factories where kids do nothing all day but practice for the high stakes tests and teachers do nothing all day but teach to the test.
And good teachers will lose their jobs over this - the APPR bell curve that mandates at least 10% of teachers get low ratings every year ensures this.
And the UFT leadership is okay with that.
As one of the Unity functionaries told Accountable Talk, they want more teachers fired because the current system, which leads to only about 1% of teachers being fired every year, isn't terminating enough teachers.
I can't imagine a member of MORE saying that kind of thing, can you?
But until we get a change in leadership at the UFT, you should know that your union is in the business of giving the education deform movement what it wants - and that includes on this evaluation issue.