ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo may be giving ground on one of his top budget priorities — strengthening teacher evaluations.
Cuomo and state lawmakers, as part of ongoing budget negotiations, have discussed creating a special commission that would craft a new teacher evaluation system, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County) said Tuesday.
“I think we are just about there with (Cuomo),” Skelos said. “Now it’s really about the commission, the composition of the commission and what there charge will be in terms of finalizing education reforms.”
Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa did not deny that a commission was being discussed but insisted nothing was decided.
"Regarding rumors about teacher evaluation, there are a number of proposals floating around and none of them have been agreed to,” DeRosa said.
The Democrat-controlled state Assembly has not signed off on the creation of a commission, lawmakers said.
“It’s the latest proposal in the budget dance,” said one Democratic Assembly member.
Patrick Sullivan on twitter:
@edbobgreen @perdidostschool @leoniehaimson @mma718 @DeborahJGlick Commission would have no power. Just face saving for gov.
— Patrick J. Sullivan (@PSulliv) March 25, 2015
Given how Cuomo has manipulated some other high profile commissions (see here, here and here), I'm not ready to say this one - if it is empaneled - will be innocuous.
Perhaps Regina Calcaterra could chair this, just the way she chaired Cuomo's LIPA and corruption commissions?
And maybe just for old time's sake, Cuomo could bring back Larry Schwartz for some old-fashioned meddling and tampering like back in the day - you know, 2013.
Until I see details of the commission, who will make the appointments, who actually gets appointed and what power the commission will have, I'm not ready to say it's face-saving for Cuomo after the thundered on about his "My Way Or The Highway" on education reform for the last few months.
UPDATED - 7:20 AM: And just like that, we learn that Cuomo is indeed engaging in machinations over the evaluation commission:
FUNDING TIED TO JUNE EVAL DEAL—Capital’s Jessica Bakeman: “Members of the State Assembly’s Democratic majority fumed Tuesday night over a plan they said was developed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans to hold back a school funding increase until June, when an appointed commission would recommend a new teacher-evaluation system. After meeting privately for several hours, Assembly members accused Senate Republicans of reneging on an apparent understanding between the two chambers that education funding would not be contingent on the enactment of reforms, such as an overhaul of the performance rating system for educators, which Cuomo has pushed.
“According to the plan, Cuomo and lawmakers would establish in the budget a six-member commission with two appointees each for the governor and the legislative houses, members said. The panel would develop a new evaluation system and return it to the Legislature by June 1, at which point, schools would have access to an increase in aid.
“‘There is a great concern that the governor is trying to maneuver to accomplish an agenda that we all reject,’ Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, a Democrat from Westchester, said after the conference’s meeting on Tuesday night. ‘[Setting] up another way to deal with the policy issue of teacher evaluations sounded like an attractive approach, but now all of a sudden, we’re hearing that [Senate Republican leader Dean] Skelos is backing away from what he said would be the pre-condition for that, which would be no linkage [to funding]. So if we can’t trust him on that, how can we trust him on the commission?’” http://bit.ly/1xwIxmY
If anybody thinks the governor has caved on his fight to destroy public schools and public school teachers, they should pay attention to what he's looking to do by delaying school funding until June and making it contingent upon teacher evaluation changes.
That's the move of someone not looking to save face but to get his way.