Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Teachers With Lifetime Certification Will Have To "Register" For Certification Every Five Years Now (UPDATED)

The more you see in this Cuomo deform budget, the more you find to hate:

Teachers and administrators with lifetime certification must register with the state every five years.

Applicants for registration must complete 100 hours of continuing education or professional development every five years. “The department shall issue rigorous standards for courses, programs and activities that shall qualify as continuing teacher and leader education,” according to the bill.

Principals or teachers who perform observations for the purpose of the state’s teacher evaluation system may count those hours toward the total.

If educators don’t complete the state-approved professional development, they will not be able to maintain certification.

Will the hours of PD we have to do as part of the UFT contract count toward this new mandate?

I'm betting not.

UPDATE: A commenter writes that the actual budget langauge says teachers with lifetime certification do have to "register" their license every five years but are not part of the PD requirement - that is for holders of professional certification.

I checked the language in the budget (for this post, I was using Jessica Bakeman's Capital NY article) and the commenter appears to be right about that.

I posted about that here.

However, the governor released this today:

The State currently requires teachers to pass a teacher “bar” exam – and will now also require teachers to complete 100 hours of continuing education and recertify every five years or lose their licenses.

So you can understand the confusion around all of this.

That's been true of the entire budget process - non-transparent, full of confusion and characterized by he said/she said depending upon whether we were hearing from the governor, the Assembly or the Senate.

Mulgrew, UFT Tell Lawmakers It's Okay To Vote For Cuomo Reform Budget

Ken Lovett in the Daily News:

ALBANY — State lawmakers raced to finish work on New York’s budget Tuesday amid simmering resentment over Gov. Cuomo’s education reforms - which opened up an unusual rift between the city and state teachers’ unions.


 City teacher union president Michael Mulgrew angered NYSUT President Karen Magee and her team after he put out a statement Sunday night - before the education bill was even in print- claiming victory in beating back some of Cuomo's more strident proposals, sources said.

While Magee urged lawmakers to reject the education measures, city lawmakers said they were told by Mulgrew's team that voting for the package would not be held against them.

"They just weren't on the same page," said one legislator of the two unions. "The issue between them was whether to strike the best deal they could or whether to oppose it outright."

That'll keep them from voting for the odious budget, Mikey.

Assembly Dems Cave To Cuomo On Education Reform

Cuomo wins in a rout:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heasite this afternoon acknowledged the education reform measure in the 2015-16 state budget are difficult for his members to accept, but the legislation will pass his chamber at some point in the next few hours.

“It’s not an ideal world, it’s not an ideal situation, but the people of this state want an on-time budget,” Heastie told reporters.

The bill, being printed now, will be voted on as soon as its ready, Heastie said.

Heastie had still been negotiating the education policy in the budget that Gov. Andrew Cuomo pursued this year, which includes a new teacher evaluation criteria and tenure requirements as well as a reform to the so-called 3020A process that makes it easier for low-performing teachers to be fired, regardless of tenure.

The state’s teachers’ union remains staunchly opposed to the evaluation, tenure and 3020A changes, and rank-and-file Democrats, too, have been critical of the reform polices.

Both the New York State United Teachers union and their city affiliate, the United Federation of Teachers, have urged lawmakers to oppose the legislation.


“We will pass the bill. Members raised a lot of I’d say issues of concern about implementation,” Heastie said. “You make these kinds of changes, members have questions.”

More later on what to do now that it's clear that Cuomo got everything he wanted on education reform, with a few minor alterations.

Suffice to say for now, the new evaluation system, with the unfunded mandate of independent observers and the onus of the testing thrown onto the teachers, is going to be a mess and the goal will be to make Cuomo own this and ensure it destroys him in his second term.

Every problem that arises because of the new system, we pin on Cuomo.

His people developed this system, he pushed for it, he tied it to education aid increases.

It is his and when it becomes clear that it is an unworkable mess, that problem will be his too.

Cuomo Tries To Turn New York Into Wisconsin

Zack Fink at State of Politics on the yacht tax exemption Cuomo's pushing for the budget:

One insider suggested to me that Cuomo allowed this tax exemption to go through in order to draw attention away from his radical education agenda. Not sure I believe that, but let’s be honest…the changes the Governor is looking to make are huge. I say “looking to make,” because the bill has not hit the Assembly floor for a vote where it’s chances of quick passage remain murky at best. The Governor is in essence undermining the teacher’s union. Watering down their collective bargaining rights by putting into state law the mandatory dismissal of teacher’s who are rated ineffective. That’s a major departure from where things currently stand. Right now, it is very difficult to fire teachers. Especially those with tenure. Cue the numerous tab stories about “rubber rooms.” If Cuomo gets his way, the dynamic will be permanently altered. I don’t want to compare this to what Scott walker did in Wisconsin, but it’s the New York State Democratic-internecine-warfare-politics version of that.

Just something to think about the next time you hear Mike Mulgrew declare the budget a "victory."

State Of Politics Blog: Did UFT Declare "Premature Victory"?

But of course:

On Sunday night, the United Federation of Teachers released an email to members touting its accomplishments in the budget framework, based on what its leadership was told by state officials.

But over the course of the day on Monday, it became clear not everyone was on the same page with those changes.

Indeed, the statewide umbrella union, the New York State United Teachers, circulated a memorandum of opposition to the education reform proposals in the budget framework.

The measures include new teacher evaluation criteria that includes a state test and observation in the classroom. It does have a local option — yet another state test, but that has to be requested by the local union.

The state Department of Education sets the percentage criteria.

The budget would make it easier for teachers who perform poorly on the evaluations over two or three years to be fired, even those with tenure.

Achieving tenure itself is tied to receiving three out of four years worth of “effective” ratings.

And contrary to what the United Federation of Teachers believed on Sunday night, merit pay is being included in the budget, according to a Cuomo official.

Enacting the evaluation criteria will be tied to a boost in state aid, about 6 percent, come November. In other words, linkage to reform is back in after all.

In short, the governor got everything he wanted in the budget and the few things he didn't get - like an increase in the charter cap - were deliberately left out for later in the legislative session.

Still, the UFT declares the budget deal a "victory," one that scrapes the skies it's so good compared to what Cuomo really wanted in the budget.

Except that, he got what he really wanted in the budget.

Oh well, what's a serious screwjob between friends.

Cuomo Attempts To Place Blame For Overtesting Onto Teachers And Unions

Rich Karlin in the Times-Union:

As lawmakers approached Tuesday night's state budget deadline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was finalizing what could be described as a take-it-or-leave education reform package that continues to rely heavily on standardized test results but seems to put the onus on the state teachers union to seek second chances for low-scoring teachers.

The Education Transformation Act is tied to a school funding increase of more than $1.33 billion, but it may be a hard pill for lawmakers to swallow — especially in the Democrat-dominated Assembly, where members are closely aligned with teachers unions.

Under the plan, teachers whose students persistently do poorly on tests designed to show student growth during the school year could be fired, even if they are tenured.

The plan works to shift the blame for alleged overtesting of students — a major complaint by the public — from the state to the teachers union.

And it puts a heavy responsibility on the state Board of Regents and their Education Department to develop the "cut scores" for exams that will place teachers into one of four performance categories: ineffective, developing, effective and highly effective.

Under the new program, half of a teacher's rating will be based on classroom observations and half will be based on tests. Only one set of tests will be mandated: the standardized math and English tests given in grades 3 to 8, and Regents exams required for graduation from high school.

If a teacher's students do poorly on those, the educator could not receive an overall rating of effective or highly effective.

In that case, however, the union could request another set of tests. If the results for this second test are also poor, that teacher would be considered ineffective overall, and the school could move to terminate the teacher after a minimum of three years of poor results.

This aims to attack the perception among parents that the state is mandating too many tests.

If students are subjected to extra tests, it would be because the local teachers union was asking for them to help with the teachers rating, according to the thinking behind the proposal.

Cynic that I am, I am not shocked by much in this world.

But even I am stunned at the audacity of this testing proposal and the attempt to shift the blame for overtesting from the state to teachers and teachers unions.

It's such a cynical and hostile move from Cuomo and his flying attack monkeys that I can't imagine it doesn't backfire on them.

More from State of Politics:

New teacher evaluation criteria that is being proposed in the state budget would potentially put the onus on local teachers unions as to whether a second test should be added for students which would count to a performance rating, according to a Cuomo administration official.

“It’s an option and it’s a risk,” the official said on Monday night. “It is a risk to have that second test. We’ve design it in the system because we’re trying to reduce testing.”


Evaluations would include one state-based test, along with an option — to be decided by collective bargaining — for a second test to be developed by the Department of Education. No new funding will be allocated for the second test, which would not have to a newly written examination.

Implementing the new evaluation is tied to a increase in education aid, with a November deadline.
“It puts the burden on them and in many ways belies the myth the state was asking for more test,” the official said. “Now, if they want the second test, they’ve going to need to ask for a second test.”

These people claim they have students' interests at heart?

This is nothing but a cynical "gotcha" system meant to scapegoat teachers and teachers unions.

Cuomo Administraton Insists Independent Observations Make It To New Teacher Evaluation System

This sounds like a mess to me:

ALBANY—The final plan for a new statewide teacher evaluation system will require observations by an “independent” evaluator, a Cuomo administration official said during a briefing with reporters late Monday.

It’s hard to say definitively what will be in the bill, since it hasn’t been introduced, and leaders of the State Senate and Assembly did not immediately return a request for confirmation that they have agreed on specifics of the deal. But the administration official, speaking on background, presented the plan in great detail, some of which Capital has already reported, arguing the deal was solid.

According to the briefing, the evaluation system will have two components: observations and student performance on state tests.

There will be two required observations, from a teacher’s principal or administrator and an “independent” evaluator, who could be a principal, administrator or “highly effective” teacher from another school or district. As Cuomo originally proposed, a college professor or retired educator could also serve as the independent evaluator. A peer observation will be optional.

The official argued against critics’ characterization of the “independent” evaluator as an unfunded mandate. If schools or districts agree to swap evaluators, neither would have to pay for the other’s services, the official said.

All that extra money in the budget that's going for education?

Much of it is going to have to be used for compliance.

How will the independent evaluator program work?

Will these be announced or unannounced?

Will there be a meeting with the independent evaluator before and/or after the observation?

Or is this just going to be a drive-by evaluation by some stranger who doesn't know you and never sees you again?

Oh, yeah - this is going to be a swell new system we have.

I make a prediction that in a year or two, after this system proves to be spectacularly unworkable and expensive, we're back re-doing the evaluation system once again.

Cuomo Makes Sure There Are Tax Breaks For Luxury Yacht, Private Plane Purchasers

Jon Campbell at Politics on the Hudson:

Looking to purchase a private aircraft or a luxury yacht? You may be in luck, courtesy of the new state budget agreement.

Lawmakers on Monday are set to pass a budget bill that includes a state tax break on the purchase of small planes and big boats, which has drawn protest from lawmakers and advocates who unsuccessfully pushed for an increase in the minimum wage.

Under the bill, the purchase of a private airplane that seat fewer than 20 people and can carry less than 6,000 pounds would be exempt from sales tax. When it comes to boats, the amount of the purchase price greater than $230,000 wouldn’t be subject to sales tax.

How did these tax breaks get into the budget?

Aren't you glad Governor Cuomo has the best interests of the state in his heart?

Monday, March 30, 2015

NYSED: Districts Will Need To Renegotiate Union Contracts If They Want Education Aid Increases

The Senate and Assembly kept saying education aid would not be linked to Cuomo's getting his teacher evaluation reforms.

They reneged on that:

ALBANY—School funding and teacher evaluations are linked after all, a top official with the state education department said late Monday.

In the apparently still-fluid state budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers are considering making an increase of at least $1.4 billion in school aid contingent on state approval of locally negotiated evaluation plans for teachers and principals by a mid-November deadline. The structure would be similar to 2013, when districts first implemented the current evaluation system.

That year, the New York City Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers missed the state-imposed mid-January deadline, prompting officials to withhold $250 million from the state's largest school district.

According to budget language that has not yet been finalized, the department would craft—subject to approval of the Board of Regents—regulations outlining a new evaluation system by June 30, deputy senior education commissioner Ken Wagner told Capital on Monday.

Some aspects of the rating system would be optional, so they would require negotiations between school districts, teachers and principals’ unions.

“Theoretically, all districts would have to review their contracts and see whether their contracts have to be modified,” Wagner said. “They would have to renegotiate their contracts, and all of the plans would have to be submitted and approved by November 15 to get their increase in state aid.

“They would still get their base state aid, but they wouldn’t get their increase,” he continued. “Statewide, we’ve seen numbers from 5 to 6 percent. Let’s just say it’s a 5 percent increase in state aid; that 5 percent would be removed from their aid allocation from the entire year.”

The more we learn about this budget deal, the worse it gets.

Imagine if Cuomo wasn't staring down Preet Bharara and living with underwater job approval ratings.

What would have gotten then?

NYSUT Pushes Back Against Cuomo's Education Reforms In The Budget

From Nick Reisman at State of Politics:

A memorandum of opposition from the New York Stated United Teachers union being circulated with state lawmakers urges them to reject major provisions of the education reform proposals that are in the spending plan’s framework.

The memo comes after state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a framework deal, but specifics on the agreement through budget bill language remain elusive.

Still, some of the details of the education reform proposals in the budget, according to the administration, include proposals opposed by the union — namely changes to teacher evaluation criteria, tenure and the 3020A proceedings which make it easier for districts to fire poorly performing teachers.

“These proposals will likely eliminate tenure, collective bargaining rights and due process for educators,” the memo states. “Further, this will strongly discourage educators with high-needs populations, children living in poverty, English Language learns, or children with disabilities.
NYSUT states the organization opposes the use of outside evaluations as well as what it sees as the “loss” of collective bargaining in the evaluation system.

“The building principal or superintendent is the appropriate person to conduct observations, not someone with no or limited experience or someone with limited knowledge of the teacher being evaluated,” the memo states.

Similarly, the effort to have tenure reformed to four years, with three years of good performance ratings of “effective” — a proposal that NYSUT states is “impossible for a new teacher to attain.”

Kudos to NYSUT for working the legislature and trying to push back on what Cuomo claims is in the agreement framework.

But quite frankly, we don't know what's in the budget education bills because nobody's actually seen them.

Cuomo claims he made government functional again but I don't know what's functional about passing a budget with all kinds of policy in it that nobody gets to read beforehand.

Sounds more like functional totalitarianism to me, not functional democracy.

I hope NYSUT continues to sound the bell and call for mass opt outs across the state.

The only way to deal with a government run by political whores like Andrew Cuomo who are funded by a shadowy cadre of billionaires and Wall Street criminals and who push through policies opposed by the majority but supported by their wealthy backers is to expose that government and its functionaries as bereft of legitimacy.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch Lashes Out Over Opt-Out

Mulgrew and the UFT declared victory over the budget agreement announced last night wherein Governor Cuomo pretty much got everything he wanted on education reform (and what he didn't get - like the charter cap increase - he will get later in the legislative session), but NYSUT President Karen Magee was a little less thrilled with the budget deal, saying that she and her union "are encouraging parents to opt-out" of the state tests..."we will be taking further steps to make parents aware of this.”

The doyenne of testing herself, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, fired back quickly:

It used to be easy to ignore the most vulnerable students. Without assessments, it was easy to ignore the achievement gap for African-American and Latino students. Without an objective measure of their progress, it was easy to deny special education students and English Language Learners the extra resources they need. Without state tests, it was easy for a struggling 4th grader in a wealthy district to get lost. Obviously we still need to do more for those students, but now is not the time to put blinders back on. 

Gee, that's awfully close to calling opt-out supporters racists, isn't it?

That's how desperate the deformers have become to keep their House of Cards from toppling over.

High stakes testing and teacher evaluations tied to those tests is a civil right and if you're opposed to either of those, you're a racist.

One thing Cuomo hasn't banked on in this education reform fight - he can smear the teachers as lazy incompetents who don't want to be evaluated, he can pull his budget machinations and win the day for his deform agenda when he holds the state education aid hostage, but he can't force parents across this state to have their children sit for the state tests.

The battle now moves to the opt-out movement for the state tests - and if NYSUT actually does what Magee said they would do today and back it (and call me skeptical on that count), then we just may be able to starve NYSED and the Regents of much of their precious data and put a shiv into Cuomo's reform agenda anyway.

No wonder Tisch lashed out so quickly after Magee said NYSUT would back opting out of the state tests.

The Deform House of Cards can only stand so long as there's data at the base.

Get rid of the data and down come cards.

Outside Observers Coming To Evaluate You

The Cuomo administration declared victory in the budget battle over education reform:

A senior administration official last night called the public education system across the “$50 billion industry” that is resistant to reform.  
At the same time, the reforms agreed to in the budget framework represent one of the biggest shifts in education policy in the state’s history, the official said. 
Still, in the early reporting there’s some disagreement over the extent of the changes: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie last night told reporters there is input from the Department of Education on helping develop teacher evaluation criteria.
The official last night said SED’s role in criteria development for evaluations was minimal, save for helping put together a second, optional test for school districts to use.

One of those "big shifts" in education policy?

Outside observers:

The agreement includes a new teacher evaluation criteria that will include both state-based tests as well as principal and independent observation. School districts can opt for a second test for teacher evaluations developed by the state Department of Education, according to an administration official.

Also the evaluation is tied to state aid and not subject to a labor agreement:

School districts must implement the new evaluation criteria by November, and doing so is linked to state education aid, the administration official said.  
An administration official insisted on Sunday evening said the new evaluation criteria would need to be included in new contracts between teachers and districts, but would not be subject to collective bargaining with local units.  
“It’s in the law,” the official said.

Cuomo basically won everything, albet with a few slight modifications.

He got the new evaluation system tied to state aid.

He got state receivership of "failing" schools.

He got an evaluation system that has so-called independent outside observers.

He got tenure changes.

He got expedited teacher firings based on test scores (come up "ineffective" on the test component and you have to be rated "ineffective" overall - two straight "ineffectives" and you're fired.)

The UFT is declaring victory because the charter cap wasn't raised, but that's coming later in the legislative session, make no mistake about that.

This budget deal is a disaster of monumental proportions, a huge victory for Cuomo and a huge defeat for teachers.

As for the teachers union leadership, they don't care one way or the other - they still get paid and get their perks.

They're not worried about unannounced outside observations and two "ineffectives" and they're fired.

So of course Mulgrew's declaring victory.

But this isn't a victory for teachers - this is, as Cuomo officials called it, "the biggest shift in education policy in the state's history"

In short, the teacher firings and school closings commence in two years.

NYSUT, UFT Bring Us Another Disaster

So much for all those rallies, ad and rhetoric from union leaders that they're not going to let Governor Cuomo destroy public schools.

The budget agreement was announced last night and in it we got details of the new teacher evaluation system and other education reforms agreed to by Cuomo, the Assembly and the Senate.

Three parts should be particularly galling to you if you're a teacher:

1. NYSED gets the power to re-do the evaluation system to make it a "state-wide" system. Yes, that's right - the same people who gave "Dr" Ted J Morris Jr. a charter school get the power to impose a statewide evaluation system.

2. Teachers who are rated "ineffective" two years running are subject to being declared "incompetent" and fired within 90 days unless they can demonstrate "clear and convincing evidence" to the contrary. Teachers who are rated "ineffective" three years running are subject to disciplinary charges and expedited firing in 30 days unless they can prove the ratings were based on "fraud."
3. The state gets to takeover chronically "failing" schools (10 years or more) and if they cannot show improvement in one year. The state gets to take over moderately "failing schools (3 years of "failing") if they cannot show improvement in two years

In the past, NYSED rigged the Common Core tests so that 70% of students would fall below the proficiency rate.

There is no reason to think they won't rig the APPR re-do they've been tasked with so that large swaths of teachers are declared "ineffective" as well.

As is the case now, if a teacher is "ineffective" on the test component of the system, that teacher must be declared "ineffective" overall.

Two consecutive "ineffective" ratings and you're out of a job in 90 days - good luck finding "clear and convincing evidence" to the contrary that you're not "incompetent."

As for the state takeover plan, so-called "failing" schools have to submit a plan to NYSED to show how they'll improve in a year - NYSED gets final approval of the plan.

You can bet that plan will be as rigged by the sociopaths at NYSED as the Common Core test results.

If so-called "failing" schools do not hit their benchmarks in a year, they're handed over to the state for receivership.

Some schools that were "failing for three years or less get two years to show improvement.

In short, the state's going to be taking over lots of schools and handing them to charter operators.

On Saturday, NYSUT President Karen Magee said the following:

"The policies proposed by Gov. Cuomo are harmful to our children and our students and that is unacceptable," she said, "and we are not going to let him do that!"

Dunno how you read the above agreement details that we have, but it sure sounds like Cuomo got a lot of the policies he wanted in the budget.

I am especially concerned by the evaluation re-do.

Giving the sociopaths at NYSED the power to re-do teacher evaluations and impose a statewide system onto New York may provide politicians in Albany with some cover for the damage, but it surely doesn't bode well for schools, students or teachers.

I would expect that something like the New York City system that former NYSED Commissioner John King imposed on teachers in the NYCDOE will make it around the state.

Mark Naison summed the education policies agreed to in the budget framework this way:

Another disaster from our union leaders brought to us in a year where Cuomo had his budget agenda hijacked by Preet Bharara and Shelly Silver's arrest and his poll numbers plummet even before NYSUT began running ads against him (Cuomo's been under water in the Siena poll since late 2014.)

NYSED Gets Power To Reform New York's Teacher Evaluation System

It's bad:

ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have agreed on a framework for the state budget with at least a $1.4 billion increase in school aid, a plan to allow the state education department to develop the new teacher evaluation system and tighter disclosure requirements for lawmakers.


Cuomo has said education and ethics reform were his top two priorities in the budget, but the governor was forced to make concessions from his initial proposals.

Heastie said the task of developing a new evaluation system for teachers and principals would be delegated to the education department. Earlier this week, lawmakers said they were discussing a plan to ask the Board of Regents to develop the new rating system. Since the education department reports to the board, it’s unclear what’s different about the two plans.

A Cuomo administration source said the budget would specifically charge the education commissioner with the task, not the board. There is currently a vacancy in that role, since commissioner John King departed last year to take a job with the federal government.


The department would have to flesh out the details of the new system by June. School districts would need to finalize any locally negotiated aspects of their ratings system and submit their plans for state approval by November.

“We’re giving S.E.D. the ability to do what the intent is for them to do,” Heastie said. “The state education department should be the chief arbiters of education policy in the state, and we’re allowing them to do what their mission is.”

Heastie said the education department would have broad authority to determine the specifics; the Cuomo source, speaking on background, said the rating system would be based on observations and testing. Districts would be required to use state-administered standardized assessments as a component in the ratings, but they would also have the option to use an additional test that would also be designed by the state.

The rating system would use a model that’s not based on percentages, the source said. Lawmakers have debated using a “matrix” model.

Teachers and principals who are rated “ineffective” on the portion of the evaluation that’s based on testing would not be able to earn an overall rating of “effective” or higher.

Currently, the system is based on a scale of “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” and “highly effective,” and two “ineffective” ratings could be used as grounds for termination.

Under the new plan, districts may bring disciplinary charges against educators with two consecutive “ineffective” ratings, and educators would be fired within 90 days unless they can provide “clear and convincing” evidence that they should keep their job.

Districts could bring disciplinary charges against educators with three consecutive “ineffective” ratings, and the educators would be fired within 30 days unless they can prove “fraud.”
A spokesman for the education department declined to comment.

More later.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Budget Negotiations (Updated - 8:20 PM)


The Assembly Democrats are scheduled to conference early this evening. The Senate Republicans are not conferencing again until tomorrow at noon.

Interesting that Senate Republicans are not conferencing until tomorrow.

That probably means no ethics deal tonight.

But with Assembly Dems conferencing tonight, an announcement on the education issues in the budget is a possibility tonight or early tomorrow.

We shall see.

I'd say "Stay tuned," but that phrase has a different meaning these days in Albany... 

UPDATE - 5:15 PM:

UPDATE - 6:10 PM

UPDATE - 7:00 PM:

UPDATE - 8:20 PM:

Back In The Day: Cuomo, Mulgrew, Iannuzzi, King Announce APPR Deal

As we await news of the latest teacher evaluation reform in New York State, let's revisit February 2012 for another big announcement on teacher evaluations by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, former NYSED Commissioner John King, UFT President Michael Mulgrew and former NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi:

ALBANY — Student test scores and classroom observations will be used to assess New York educators under a new evaluation system announced Thursday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo heralded as a national model.

The agreement between state officials and union leaders ended two years of tense negotiations and put a court battle on hold.

With the clock ticking on a tight deadline, Cuomo and educational leaders on Thursday said they had broken through the major logjams standing in the way of the new teacher evaluation system — which would also bring in approximately $1 billion in federal funding over the next few years.

The move also strengthens the role of the state Education Department, which must approve the evaluation agreements developed by each of the state's 700 school districts.

"Today is a great day for the schools in the state of New York. Government works today," Cuomo said, as he was joined by Education Commissioner John King Jr. as well as Michael Mulgrew and Richard Iannuzzi, heads of the United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers.
"Today's agreement is good for students and fair to teachers," Iannuzzi added.

To get the federal funding, the new evaluation system must be completed and implemented by year-end. Unions and management of local school districts, including the vast New York City system, had been at loggerheads over the weight to give student performance on standardized tests and the appeals process for teachers who receive the lowest rating.

With that in mind, Cuomo said he would impose his own system in his budget plan if unions and department officials couldn't agree by Thursday — which marks the deadline for the governor's 30-day amendments, or final touches, to his budget proposal for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The announcement followed an all-night bargaining session in which the warring sides appeared to compromise on two key issues. The New York City-based UFT and State Education Department agreed on a plan for appealing evaluations in which teachers scored poorly and might face firing; and NYSUT and the state resolved differences over the so-called local test portion of the evaluation.
Under the plan, teachers are evaluated on a 100-point scale: 60 points are based on classroom observations and student portfolios; 20 points come from scores that students get on a standardized state test; and another 20 points come from tests developed by the district or a third party.

Much of the fighting between the labor leaders and state officials was sparked by Cuomo's last-minute push to allow student test scores to count for up to 40 percent of an evaluation. Districts have the option to use state tests for up to 40 percent of an evaluation, but it must be bargained with the union. NYSUT's Iannuzzi said the union would likely end the lawsuit it filed last spring over the increased weight given to state tests once the new evaluation system is finalized.

Additionally, the State Education Department will now have veto power over evaluations that are deemed insufficient. Unions and school districts will also develop a "curve" for the point system by which teachers and principals are rated. Educators will fall in one of four categories: ineffective, developing, effective and highly effective.

Those rated "ineffective" could be fired if they do not improve.

King down played the concerns of some school administrators that the evaluation system would add significant new work to the strained staffing at many schools. He said the new evaluation system will also "dramatically change" the jobs of many principals for the better, by putting them in the classrooms where they can offer constructive feedback to their staff.

"The role of the principal is to provide their teams with instructional leadership," he said. "Principals should be spending significant time in the classroom."

So far, about 100 school districts statewide have agreed on evaluation plans and another 250 are close.

Still, questions remain about how the State Education Department will regulate this new system and whether it has the capacity to review and approve them all by year's end.

"Whether they are going to be able to approve these new evaluations as efficiently as it was described here today, I'm a little bit suspicious," said Tim Kremer, executive director of the state School Boards Association.

And Iannuzzi stressed that the relationships between school districts and their unions will still be a key factor in whether the evaluation plans go smoothly.

"The ingredient you can't write in law is the ingredient of collaboration and trust" between unions and management, he said.

It's interesting to see how much has changed in three years.

Where three years ago they were touting principals as the drivers of observations and fonts of educational wisdom, in the latest iteration of New York State teacher evaluations as pushed by Governor Cuomo, the principal has been superseded by outside evaluators.

Back in February 2012, they said principals would be in classrooms "where they belong", offering "feedback" to their staffs.

In the latest iteration, outside observers will drive by on some unknown timetable to observe teachers they don't know in schools they've never been to in order to provide meaningful evaluations of teachers.

Yeah, that'll work great.

Want to bet we'll be re-doing APPR teacher evaluations in a year or two again when the plan they're working on now turns out to be a miserable failure.

The one constant you'll notice in all the iterations of evaluations in New York State is that the union leadership is always there on stage next to Cuomo for the sell-out announcement.

Bet whatever comes in the next day or so that some teacher union head will offer some variation on the Iannuzzi prouncement from back in the day:

"Today's agreement is good for students and fair to teachers," Iannuzzi added.

Because rhetoric about how good the sell-outs they negotiate never gets old or stale in the mouths of teachers union heads.

Looks Like It Will Take Four Years For Teachers To Get Tenure

Joseph Spector in the Democrat & Chronicle on what seems almost settled in the education reform battle going on:

An increase in school aid is expected to exceed $1.4 billion, officials said, and teachers would be eligible for tenure after four years of service instead of the current three years.

In the changes being discussed, teachers would be eligible for tenure if they are rated "effective" or "highly effective" in three of the four years. And they couldn't be deemed "ineffective" in the fourth year.

It's unclear whether the system would impact current teachers or only new hires.

As for evaluations, the latest:

Cuomo has been at odds with the teachers' union over his education reforms, and he said Saturday that stronger education policy has probably been the "single most difficult challenge" he's faced since taking office in 2011.

He initially proposed that 50 percent of teacher evaluations should be tied students' test scores. Now the sides appear to have agreed to letting the Board of Regents, which oversees New York's educational system, take up the evaluation issue.

But it's unclear whether the Board of Regents would have a specific charge in the legislation, such as coming up with a system where a new percentage of a teacher's evaluation would be based on test scores.

More as we get it.

Which Side Is More Desperate In Budget Negotations?

Fred LeBrun says it's Cuomo:

The governor himself last week reasserted that he would not allow a budget to be passed on time unless the Legislature approves these still unspecified ethics reforms, nor would he sign off on desperately needed increases in state aid for public education without his fingerprints on teacher evaluation changes. He's defined these as the most important issues currently on the table.

But what seemed to be a daring, even brilliant, move to link these policy issues to the budget, and therefore force the Legislature to bend his agenda, has backfired.

Polls last week by Quinnipiac University and Siena College definitively denied the governor the public's backing on tactics and policy. The public said it was a bad idea to link policy issues to passing the budget, and also rejected the governor's diddling with teacher evaluations and school takeovers. And a majority pointedly identified the governor as part of the problem with state ethics rather that the solution.

At this point, the governor is being smothered by his own repeated propaganda of the last five years that equates a budget passed on time as the return of functional state government. Even though his father, the late Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, used to say that a better budget always trumps an on-time one.
It's interesting to note that the public, though, in every poll I've seen, is repeating the current governor's mantra on budgets. The public is overwhelmingly adamant that on-time equals functional.
But what we now have in these waning hours of budget negotiations is a toss-up as to who needs passage of an on-time budget more, the governor or the Legislature.

Not surprisingly, the public consistently rates the two houses of the Legislature lower than whale poop, so arguably they have far less to lose should negotiations stagger past the deadline. The governor, on the other hand, is flirting with negative popularity numbers for the first time since he's been in office. He really needs an on-time budget.

All the while, the Legislature can be buoyed by the polls showing its stances on policy are closer to the public's desires than the governor's. This dynamic has to figure into actual negotiations.

The clock is ticking - we're past the time when the budget can pass without Cuomo declaring messages of necessity to waive the three day "aging" process bills are supposed to go through.

Cuomo's claiming he won't take a budget that doesn't meet his criteria on ethics reform and education reform.

On education reform, he is adamant the state must have the power to take over "failing" schools and hand them to private operators and the teacher evaluation system must be "strengthened" statewide so that more teachers are declared ineffective and fired.

But as LeBrun writes in his Times-Union column, as we get closer to the budget deadline and the Senate continues to hold out on ethics reform and the Assembly continues to fight him on education reform, it's Cuomo whose most under the gun to get the budget done on time and thus most likely to blink in a standoff.

We'll know soon enough whether that happens.

One thing we do know already - throwing around all those ultimatums and saying he would force a late budget if he didn't get everything he wanted in the budget when he had no intention of actually backing those ultimatums up with action have backfired on our erstwhile governor.

He's got a public that wants an on-time budget but doesn't want ethics or education reform tied to it.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cuomo Says Teachers Are An "Industry" That Resists All Change

The guy who sucks up hedge fund and Wall Street industry money like he's a guy in the desert who just found water says this:

There was more:

Education policy, which Assembly Democrats and the governor have been locked in protracted negotiations, has been the most arduous, Cuomo indicated.

Cuomo said he wants “a really comprehensive transformation of probably what’s one of the most entrenched systems in the state of New York, what’s called the public education system. It’s probably as not as good as it should be, but has always defied change.”

The rhetoric from before the election hasn't changed.

We're a monopoly that needs to be "broken" - and he's going to do the breaking.

The good news is, Cuomo also says this has been the hardest budget he's had to negotiate because the legislature isn't rolling over like they have the past four years:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the negotiations over this year’s state budget “without a doubt” the hardest he’s dealt with since taking office.

The bad news - Cuomo says it's close to what he wants on teacher evaluations right now. 

He also says a new teacher evaluation and plan for state takeovers of failing schools must be in the budget.

So no punting that to a post-budget deal when Cuomo will have less of a hammer to use to get his way.

In any case, no deal today or tonight.

Looks like we'll get a late deal and Cuomo will push it all through with "messages of necessity".

Budget Agreement Remains Elusive So Far (Updated)


Also, Cuomo's flying attack monkeys took notice of the protest outside his NYC office today:

You know they're feeling a little desperate when they start trotting out the Bill O'Reilly rhetoric (i.e., "far left" and "far right".)

More as we get it.

UPDATE - 4:15 PM: And we get a little more info that suggests negotiations have hit a bit of a snag:

Cuomo Still Pushing For State Takeover Of "Failing" Schools

Update about an hour ago from the ever-informative State of Politics blog:

Assembly Democrats on Saturday continued to hash out the finer points of the 2015-16 state budget and while a deal seemed close, details on school receivership, education aid distribution and a potential minimum wage hike linked to property tax relief still remained outstanding issues.

Speaker Carl Heastie met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for about an hour on Saturday morning before returning to speak with some of the Democratic lawmakers who returned to the Capitol.


Broader questions remain on school aid, however, even as education reforms such as teacher evaluation criteria are no longer linked to funding.

Sources familiar with the discussion say a final school aid figure could be north of $1.4 billion. The more nettlesome task now underway for legislative and executive staff is distributing school aid, and the “runs” for districts may not be available until early next week.

“We’re still going over the break down on the education,” Heastie said.

Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats continue to raise concerns with Cuomo’s proposal to have the state takeover struggling schools.

Lawmakers want to include a local component for school receivership as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pushes his own renewal program for public schools on the local level.

It's quite telling that now that there's a mayor in New York City whose first instinct isn't to close schools that Cuomo, acting on the behalf of his ed deform and charter donors, is adamant that a) mayoral control is not a permanent thing and b) the state needs to have the power to take over "failing" schools.

You can bet if we were in a fourth Bloomberg term and he was still closing schools left and right, they wouldn't be pushing so hard for receivership.

There Will Be No Way To Fight An "Ineffective" APPR Rating If Cuomo Gets His Way On Education Reform

NYMuniBlog posts a list of 22 items that Cuomo wants as part of his "Opportunity Agenda" and says the top line items may be high-level distractors to help win passage of some of the items further down the list.

Here's the list:
  1. Adjust the APPR subcomponents to be 50 points on state tests and 50 points on Other Measures;
  2. Thirty-five points of Other Measures will be determined by independent evaluators;
  3. Have the state set the scoring bands for both student growth and observations;
  4. If a teacher is rated ineffective in either portion, then the total score cannot be effective or highly effective;
  5. Tenure granted when a teacher achieves five consecutive years of effective or highly effective ratings;
  6. Expedited hearings (maximum time of 60 days) extended to cases of accused physical or sexual abuse of a child. Teacher’s charged with abuse will be suspended without pay pending the outcome of the hearing. If a teacher is convicted of a violent felony against a child, he/she will automatically have his/her certification revoked;
  7. If a teacher receives two ineffective ratings in a row, the teacher would only be able to rebut this strong indication of incompetence by “clear and convincing evidence” that the calculation of one of the ratings was fraudulent;
  8. Eliminate the legal requirement that districts must attempt to “rehabilitate” teachers who are incompetent or engage in misconduct;
  9. Remove the requirement that children must testify in person. Allow them to testify via sworn written or video statements;
  10. A clarification of existing law that a non-tenured teacher may be dismissed at any time for any reason;
  11. A student cannot be assigned two ineffective teachers in consecutive school years;
  12. When a school is determined to be failing for three years, a non-profit, another school district, or a turnaround expert must take over the school. This is similar to the Massachusetts Model. New York has 178 “priority schools;”
  13. Students in failing schools will have additional options such as being provided with preference in the charter school lottery;
  14. Raise the charter school cap from 460 to 560 and make it statewide not restricted by region. New York City only has 24 charter applications remaining under its cap;
  15. Create an “anti-creaming” provision to ensure charter schools provide opportunities for high-needs populations;
  16. Pass the $100 million Education Tax Credit for public and private scholarships to promote choice in education;
  17. Pass the DREAM Act to allow the advancement of undocumented immigrants by enabling them to apply for TAP;
  18. Extend mayoral control of public schools in New York City for three years and consider applications from other cities;
  19. Maintain investment in statewide universal pre-K for four-year olds. Commit $365 million in funding for full-day programs for the 2015-2016 school year;
  20. Expand pre-K to three year olds in targeted high-needs districts. Allocate $25 million to support this program for children with the greatest needs;
  21. Launch the New York Youth Mentoring Commission chaired by Mrs. Matilda Cuomo, pro bono. It would create a cadre of mentors from the private sector and nonprofit partners to work with foster children, children in high-needs communities and other children in need; and
  22. If the legislature passes these “reforms,” the Governor will propose an increase in State aid of about 4.8 percent or $1.1 billion.

Here's the item that concerns me greatly:

If a teacher receives two ineffective ratings in a row, the teacher would only be able to rebut this strong indication of incompetence by “clear and convincing evidence” that the calculation of one of the ratings was fraudulent;

In short - two ineffective ratings in a row and you're gone.

There's no fighting an "ineffective rating" if Cuomo gets what he wants.

You'd have to prove "fraud" to get a rating overturned.

Now you and I know that the whole test regime in the state is fraudulent and that SED's calculation of the APPR test component based on those tests is fraudulent too - that's why they haven't been able to show cause for why Sheri Lederman received an "ineffective" rating on her test component last year in the case she has brought against the state.

But imagine having to prove the testing regime and NYSED's calculation of your test component was fraudulent in order to keep your job.

Or imagine having to prove that your observations were rigged in order to find you ineffective.

Good luck with that.

NYMuniBlog points out, the teachers unions have gone hard and heavy at the first couple of items on Cuomo's list - specifically the part that mandates 50% of a teacher's rating be based on test scores

But we haven't heard them go specifically at some of the other items lower on Cuomo's list - items like a teacher needing "clear and convincing" evidence that fraud has occurred in the calculation of part or all of her/his rating to have an ineffective rating overturned.

That may be part of Cuomo's strategy:

While the teachers unions focus their attention on derailing the first item on this comprehensive list, the remaining 21 concepts may make their way into the final budget with the appearance of being lower profile accomplishments. Increasing the test points as a component of APPR is not an effective educational concept, but it may be a very clever distractor. In reality, the placement of this controversial item on the top of the governor’s priority list may be the strategic sacrificial lamb the governor needs to achieve many of his actual and achievable education program priorities.

We'll know soon enough what's going to be done with Cuomo's education reform agenda.

The deadline for budget negotiations to end in time for an online budget is tonight.

Will "clear and convincing evidence of fraud to over turn an ineffective APPR rating" make it into law?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dean Skelos, Senate GOP On Same Train As Cuomo When It Comes To Teacher Evaluations

Driving that train:

Lawmakers have left town for the most part, but Skelos said he is staying in Albany on Saturday. Assembly Democrats are due to return on Saturday morning for an optional meeting, while Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie comes back to the Capitol this afternoon.


The evaluation criteria is “the final piece” Skelos said, adding that it remains unclear whether a decision would be kicked ultimately to the Board of Regents, which oversees the semi-autonomous Department of Education.

“We want to make sure it’s strong and it means something,” he said of the teacher evaluations. “The Assembly is unfortunately trying to water it down and the Assembly is, unfortunately, trying to water it down.”

By "strong and means something,"  Skelos means tied to test scores and punitive enough so that a significant number of teachers are fired.

If only Skelos and his Senate GOP cohorts wanted ethics reform that was "strong and means something."

But I guess that's asking for too much, isn't it.

Accountability is only for the little people.

Rumor has it Skelos will be carted out in handcuffs after the budget is done for corruption relating to his son.

Can't wait to see if that happens.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy - except for Andrew Cuomo, of course.

Board Of Regents Working On Evaluation Reform Will Be Rigged Too

The Cuomo Evaluation Commission idea is dead, replaced now with the idea that the Board of Regents will be tasked with changing the state teacher evaluation system:

ALBANY—The state Assembly majority is now debating whether to entrust the Board of Regents, a powerful 17-member education policymaking panel, with overhauling the state’s teacher-evaluation system.

Earlier this week, lawmakers indicated they might use the budget to establish a six-member expert commission to develop a new performance rating system, but both the Assembly Democratic and the Senate G.O.P. conferences rejected a plan to withhold an increase in school aid until the panel reached an agreement in June.

But now that panel’s out, Assembly members said on Thursday, and instead Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers want to task the existing board with the job it was constitutionally created to do: crafting education policy. The board’s work would not be linked to appropriations, members said.

The new evaluations would still be required to incorporate student scores on standardized tests as a measure of teacher performance, and the board would have to develop the new system by July 1, according to a state official familiar with the plan.

If the Regents get the task of re-doing evaluations, we have a pretty good idea what that work will look like - Regents Chancellor Tisch has stated publicly that she thinks 40% test scores, 60% observations is what the system should look like.

You can bet that is the system she will push for if given the power to overhaul the system.

There are four new members on the Board of Regents and a few of the stalwart reformers were ousted a few weeks back.

But I suspect there are still enough reformers left over to back Tisch for a reformy outcome and enough pressure will be applied from the outside on anybody not on board with reforminess to ensure that something like 40% tests and 60% observations is what we get in the end.

The politicians will get exactly what they want with this move - a more reformy teacher evaluation system and political cover because it will be coming from another entity and not the legislature itself.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Education Commission For Evaluation Changes Is Said To Be DOA In Budget Negotiations

The education commission is reported to be no more:

Currently, Assembly Democrats are meeting behind closed doors discussing education measures in the budget.

A previously proposed education commission is no longer part of the budget talks, lawmakers confirmed. Now, lawmakers are discussing having the Board of Regents potentially consider reform recommendations later this year.

Cuomo remains adamant that "toughened" teacher evaluations need to be part of the budget agreement.

Deadline for an ontime budget agreement is Saturday night.

Black, Puerto Rican And Hispanic Caucus Calls On Cuomo To Apologize For Disparaging Speaker Heastie

From Ken Lovett at the Daily News:

ALBANY — A group of minority state legislators Wednesday called on Gov. Cuomo to apologize for saying that the indicted former Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, is still running the chamber behind the scenes.

The state Legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic caucus said the governor’s reported comments show a “disturbing” lack of respect for new speaker Carl Heastie, the first black lawmaker to lead the chamber, and the Assembly Democrats as a whole.

“The alleged comments made by Gov. Cuomo are quite contradictory to his campaign to restore public trust, and they show a lack of political etiquette,” the caucus said in a statement.

“The caucus calls on the governor to publicly apologize or deny the purported statement regarding Speaker Heastie.”

Cuomo's remarks about Silver still running the show came right after he publicly embraced Heastie after Assembly Dems agreed to an ethics deal that Cuomo wanted (i.e., ethics reform for the legislature, not for the governor.)

In that embrace, Cuomo literally lifted Heastie off the floor, as if he owned him.

See for yourself.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cuomo Not Caving On Teacher Evaluations

Again, I keep hearing how Governor Cuomo's pushing for a commission to handle teacher evaluation reform is a "cave" from him.

It is not a "cave" at all:

A deal on education and ethics reforms remain the key dividing lines between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature before the fiscal year starts a week from today.

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, said the sides are trying to ensure that schools at least know a range of potential aid if a deal on new teacher evaluations lingers into June. Cuomo has linked school aid to tougher evaluations, as well as a longer tenure period of teachers: from three to five years. It appears the sides are moving toward a four-year period before a teacher could get tenure.


Schools want school-aid estimates as soon as possible as they prepare their budgets for a public vote May 19.

“We want to give as much clarity and predictability to school districts as we can to allow them to plan budgets,” Morelle said. “By the same token, the governor has been very clear that he wants, as part of the budget, a teacher-evaluation system different from the one we currently have.”

Tying school aid to the commission outcome is NOT a cave.

It's a way to force an outcome he wants a few months down the line.

Oh, and in case you didn't notice, Cuomo's going to get at least half of what he wants on tenure reform.

Don't think he won't get the same on evaluations - and maybe more - before it's all said and done.

Hope I'm wrong but the trajectory I see in these negotiations is compromise from the legislature and the teachers unions where no compromise need be made.

Cuomo is an unpopular governor with an unpopular agenda.

He can be told to go scratch with his agenda - and if he doesn't like it, he can purposely delay the budget himself.

Cuomo knows what the poll numbers are on that.

NYSUT ought to mount an ad campaign blaming him for purposely delaying a budget because he wants to increase the weight and emphasis of Common Core testing in schools.

See if Cuomo would like to have to counter that.

It's a shame the legislature and the teachers unions leadership doesn't seem to get this.

But doesn't seem they do.

Cuomo's Education Commission Proposal Will Be Rigged For A Reform-Friendly Outcome

A reader explains how the education commission proposal for dealing with teacher evaluation changes is likely to play out:

This is sickening. The six appointees will all be beholden to their masters. Cuomo and Skelos will appoint four of the six who will surely be looking to screw teachers. The Assembly will appoint two with union blessing, which will give them some political cover that they do not deserve for signing off on this scheme. Skelos wants the panel to be able to impose its recommendations absent subsequent legislative approval. That way the GOP thieves can say they didn't approve any of this, it came from the panel.

Meanwhile, what we are seeing play out is exactly what transpired when there was a mad dash to approve the Race to the Top requirements so we could get the $700 million. Our union agreed to a terrible evaluation system that will soon be even worse. Public school districts did not get anywhere near $700 since SED kept at least half the money for its own purposes (Pearson, etc.).

Let's remember the proposed state aid consists of our money. Not Cuomo's. Not Skelos'. Not Heastie's. We paid this through income, business and sale taxes; through fees and charges, etc. This is nothing but extortion.

I think that's exactly right. 

If the paremeters are as reported, with the Senate getting two appointees, the Assembly getting two and the governor getting two, then the commission will be rigged for a predisposed outcome - the one Cuomo and his education reform allies want.

And the Assembly Dems and union heads will say "Hey, not our fault - the commission did it!"

Cuomo Wants To Delay School Funding Until Teacher Evaluation Commission Completes Work In June

I keep reading how Governor Cuomo has been caving on that agenda of his that he said had better be in the budget or there would be no budget:

ALBANY – Tuesday at the State Capitol will go down as concession day.

Criminal justice, education, infrastructure, immigration and tax issues all started falling off the budget table as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers erased their previous lines in the sand. It was a sure sign of a desperate push for an on-time state budget by next Wednesday.

For instance, soon after Catholic Church leaders mounted a last-ditch push for a tax-credit plan to help private and religious schools, Cuomo said the idea has been dropped from budget negotiations following stiff opposition by Assembly Democrats.

The education tax credit, Cuomo said, joined the DREAM Act, a proposal to provide college aid to children of undocumented immigrants, as just two of the issues being jettisoned from talks in the budget rush during the final week before the 2015-16 fiscal year begins.

Cuomo wasn’t ready to publicly concede on his insistence on state-imposed stronger job-performance evaluations for public school teachers. But lawmakers in both the Assembly and the Senate said Tuesday that an idea to form a commission – a go-to route in Albany when sides can’t agree – was under discussion to address changing how classroom teachers in the state’s 700 school districts are evaluated. Cuomo administration officials sought to tamp down “rumors,” later saying that nothing has been agreed to.

And yet, this doesn't sound like the work of somebody making concessions:

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?’”

That sounds like the work of somebody looking to get what he wants on teacher evaluation reforms and still using the stick approach by tying funding to his getting it.

Key word out of the Bakeman piece there is "trust".

Senate GOP and Assembly Dems had made a deal that there be "no linkage to funding."

Cuomo has a meeting with GOP Majority Leader Skelos and suddenly there is linkage to the funding.

That kind of thing is called "betrayal" and perhaps it's just payback for what Heastie and the Assembly Dems did to Skelos and the Senate GOP when they agreed to an ethics reform deal with Cuomo.

In any case, what it means outside Albany is that, contrary to what you may have heard in the news, Governor Cuomo is NOT backing away from his most damaging proposals to "break" public schools and public school teachers.

Is The Education Commission Proposal For Evaluations Face-Saving For Cuomo? (UPDATED - 7:20 AM)

Glenn Blain at the Daily News:

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:

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?’”

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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cuomo Pushing For A Commission To Handle Teacher Evaluation Reforms

Because it's never too late for another jive commission empaneled to give cover to politicians who already know what they want to push through but don't want to take a political hit for doing it:

Majority Leader Dean Skelos on Tuesday said his conference is “just about there with him” on education issues following a lengthy closed-door conference on the issue.

At this point, state lawmakers and Cuomo are considering the creation of a commission that would develop teacher evaluation criteria.

It’s unclear what the final composition of the panel would be and what their purview would be.
“Now it’s really about the commission, the composition of the commission and really want their charge would be in terms of finalizing education reform,” Skelos said.

It also remains undetermined if the panel’s recommendations would be immediately acted up on or have to be approved by the Legislature, he said.

“They would come up with recommendations to the Legislature and the question is whether we would vote for it or whether they would implement what they recommend,” Skelos said.

Remember that idea yesterday that Cuomo was dropping most of ed reform agenda in return for the ethics agreement he got from the Assembly Dems?

Turns out it's not to be so:

Cuomo is continuing to press on with most of his initial education reform agenda, though a lifting of the statewide cap on charter schools is being left for later in the legislative session.

Assembly Democrats remain at odds with Cuomo on a variety of education issues, including a school receivership proposal as well as an effort to reform teacher tenure and the evaluation procedures for teachers.

It looks like receivership, tenure changes and evaluation reform all still alive in the budget talks, but the charter cap is out.

So much for Assembly Dems getting anything out of Cuomo for caving on ethics reform.

New Cuomo Ad Idea: Governor Cuomo Spends $1.7 Million On Court Costs To Keep From Spending More Money On Public School Kids

This came up in yesterday's post about how Cuomo is spending $1.7 million on legal fees and expert witnesses to keep from having to spend more money on public schools:

A reader wrote:

Cuomo is losing his sense of reality. I am now reading how Cuomo is spending almost 2 million dollars to defend not spending more money on schools!!!! This is so crazy people. Say it again, Cuomo is spending almost two million dollars to defend his policy of short changing schools of funding. 

And that gave me an idea:

NYSUT should run ads "Cuomo spends $1.7 million on lawyers to keep from spending more money on public school kids..." Bet that would be great for his poll numbers.

What say you NYSUT?

Want to take Cuomo's numbers down even more?

Run an ad with public school teachers looking into the camera and telling the public how Cuomo is spending nearly $2 million dollars on court costs to keep from having to pony up for more money for public school children.

NYSED STILL Doesn't Have The Data To Back Up Sheri Lederman's "Ineffective" Rating On The APPR Test Component

That's the takeaway from the court proceedings detailed in the Times Union:

Sheri Lederman, the Great Neck, Long Island fourth grade teacher who is challenging the state’s teacher evaluation system was in court Monday, where her husband/lawyer Bruce Lederman and state lawyer Colleen Galligan argued about whether the case should be dismissed.

Lederman’s overall rating was ”effective” and she’s tenured with almost two decades in the classroom. But she objected to the testing component, which counts for 20 percent of her overall evaluation but which Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to increase to 50 percent. In her most recent tests, her score year to year fell from 14 to 1 on a scale to 1-20. That’s not the score that she achieved but rather among her students who are tested at the start and then the end of the year to measure ”growth” or how much they’ve learned.

“There is no harm in being rated an ‘effective’ teacher,” Galligan said in moving to dismiss the case on the grounds that Lederman isn’t being harmed and therefore has no standing.

Galligan said the rating doesn’t impact her pay or tenure.

And the testing portion is only 20 percent, for now, of her evaluation.

Bruce Lederman, though, disagreed, saying “It absolutely does have job implications,” explaining that a poor or mediocre evaluation based in part on the test scores could, for example, hurt Sheri Lederman if she were to apply for a job at a new district.

“The teaching profession,” he said, “Is something where grades are important.”

Albany County state Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough had questions for both sides, asking among other things if the dismissal question was ”ripe” or timely in light of other data that was being sought.

After the brief hearing, the Ledermans explained that they had sought detailed data about how the student test scores were arrived, at but the state Education Department doesn’t divulge that information saying their request was ”overly broad” and it could threaten student privacy.

In short, NYSED doesn't have the data to prove Lederman's "ineffective" rating on the test component of her APPR evaluation so they're relying on the "No Harm, No Foul" rule that says since she was rated "effective" overall, there's no reason for the suit to go forward.

Notice too that they're trying to rely on "student privacy" for why they won't show the data.

But that's a jive excuse.

If they have the data to prove that Lederman was indeed "ineffective" on her APPR test component, they should show it to the court.

If they don't have the data, then Lederman's "ineffective" rating on the test component should be overturned and NYSED forced to make the test component ratings transparent to all educators (and only educators - not the press or general public) so that they can see what NYSED is basing the rating on.

To me, the NYSED calculations that have gone into APPR look a lot like Common Core math homework - overly complex, nonsensical and harmful.

We keep hearing how "objective" and "scientific" this rating system is.

Okay, then - show us.