Monday, March 30, 2015


The devil will definitely be in the details concerning education in the New York State budget agreement reached by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the leaders of the State Legislature Sunday night.  At first glance, what has been leaked does not look very promising but yes it could have been worse.

According to press reports, tenure will take four years for teachers to achieve instead of the current three; the evaluation system will be changed with more control given to the State Education Department (this looks like the part that could very well be a total disaster) and there will be state receivership for some schools.  On the positive side, there is an increase in school aid and some of the worst of Cuomo's proposals have been modified.

For a sharp critique, go immediately to Perdido Street School.

It seems the particulars of the agreement are not out yet because they probably are still working out some of the language behind the scenes.

I have one prediction based on all of this: NYSUT and UFT leadership will claim victory no matter what emerges from Albany (see update from Mulgrew below).

Here are the details we have from New York State of Politics:

Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats balked at a number of the education reform measures Cuomo had pushed.

But as the details emerge of the agreement from a senior administration official, Cuomo does appear to have won the inclusion of some of the education proposals, albeit with changes.

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.
However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Sunday night said the deal would vest more power in the Department of Education to set the evaluation criteria.

Fully fleshed out details on the evaluation criteria are expected to be included in budget bills.

Teacher evaluation criteria would be tied to tenure: Three out of four years a teacher must be given a rating of at least “effective” in order to receive tenure.

On the inverse, teachers that are deemed to be “ineffective” for two years in a row could be removed within 90 days. Teachers rated ineffective for three years in a row could be removed within 30 days.
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.

The budget includes a plan for school receivership. Schools deemed to be struggling or “failing” have a school district put forward a turn around plan to the state Department of Education, which could either approve the plan or have the school taken over by an independent monitor.

A city official briefed on the plan pointed some local control components for the city education chancellor.

The first batch of schools up for review would have to be deemed “failing” over the last 10 years, with the second batch deemed “failing” for the last three years.

The fight over education policy in the budget was one of the more pitched in recent years, as Cuomo tangled with the highly organized teachers unions both in the city and statewide.

Both the New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers accused Cuomo of strengthening charters at the expense of public education and as way of rewarding the deep-pocketed campaign contributors who also support charter networks.


Dear _______,

In a rebuke to the anti-public-school agenda of hedge-fund billionaires, the state Legislature tonight reached agreement on a new budget and a package of education proposals that will immediately increase aid to public schools, ensure that teacher evaluations do not hinge on state test scores and ensure local oversight of struggling schools.

Just two months ago, Gov. Cuomo proposed a series of education proposals that amounted to a declaration of war on public schools. His plan was to use the incredible leverage he holds in the state budget process to ram through his plan.

Tens of thousands of UFT members immediately sprang into action: They blasted his agenda on social media; invited him to visit their classrooms to see for himself the impact of overcrowded classes and lack of supplies; spoke out at community education forums; called, faxed and sent postcards to their state legislators; and held actions at their schools that engaged the entire school community. All the while, we insisted that Albany focus on the most important issue: fair and equitable funding.

And now all of our hard work is paying dividends. The governor's Draconian agenda has, in large part, been turned back. We want to thank the Assembly and the Senate for standing up for our schools and school communities.

Here is a rundown of what we accomplished:


What the governor demanded:
Withhold $1.1 billion in desperately needed school aid unless state lawmakers adopted his harmful proposals.

What the agreement contains:
$1.6 billion of new school aid is being distributed immediately to schools statewide with no strings attached.

Teacher evaluation

What the governor demanded:
Make test scores account for 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation, with even more test prep taking the place of meaningful learning.

What the agreement contains:
Rather than give more weight to state test scores, the Legislature proposed a new more rational scoring system. There must be multiple measures of student learning — more than just standardized test scores. Local measures of student learning must still be bargained at the local level.

Merit pay

What the governor demanded:
Corporate-style, individual merit pay of $20,000 a year for select teachers.

What the agreement contains:
No individual merit pay plan.

Struggling schools

What the governor demanded:
Turn over struggling schools to a state-appointed receiver that will have the power to scrap all collective-bargaining agreements in those schools.

What the agreement contains:
Local oversight has been maintained. The school chancellor, not the state, will appoint the receiver. Collective bargaining is preserved.

Charter schools

What the governor demanded:
Raise the charter cap, paving the way for an additional 250 charter schools to open in New York City.

What the agreement contains:
The charter cap will not be raised as part of the budget, but the issue will likely be taken up again in the months ahead.

Tenure and due process

What the governor demanded:
Extend probation from three to five years and eliminate due process altogether.

What the agreement contains:
Probation will be extended to four years for teachers hired after July 2015, and all due process rights remain in place.

We have shown the enormous power of school communities when they stand united in protecting our students and schools. Governor Cuomo's attempt to hold public education aid hostage to the radical agenda of his hedge-fund pals didn't work.

We should take pride in what we have accomplished, but our fight with this governor is not over. We oppose the raising of the charter cap until charter schools serve an appropriate percentage of the state’s neediest children, and we will be working with the Regents on the details of a fair evaluation process for teachers.


Michael Mulgrew


Anonymous said...

It makes perfect sense now. Retro salary payments linked to mass exodus/firing.

Anonymous said...

So only losing half of what you originally anticipated losing is spun as a victory.

James Eterno said...

That is exactly what we said would happen.