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Deadlines loom regarding teacher evaluations

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 12/28/2012, 10:49 a.m.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn't moving the deadline for completed new teacher evaluations...
Deadlines loom regarding teacher evaluations

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn't moving the deadline for completed new teacher evaluations with less than a month remaining. Cuomo said that if districts don't finish on time, they will not see any increase in school aid for 2013. Out of the 700 school districts working to meet the Jan. 17 deadline, almost 200 schools have not crossed the finish line. The rest of the district's schools have completed, submitted and met the approval of the State Education Department on their new teacher evaluation plans. Those schools would not be denied their increases in school aid.

New York City remains one of the districts that hasn't come up with new teacher evaluations yet.

In a letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said that DOE had demonstrated an inability to manage the school system correctly, which concerns them in regard to reaching an agreement. Mulgrew said that teachers are still scrambling for materials to teach the kids based on the Common Core curriculum to which the state switched two and a half years ago. According to Mulgrew, the DOE still hasn't created a curriculum based on the Common Core.

"Inevitably, this will lead to a drop in standardized test scores, which I know once again you will try to blame on the teachers, because you will not take responsibility for your incompetence," wrote Mulgrew. "Despite all of this and many other examples, the teachers in our schools have worked through Hurricane Sandy and many other challenges to serve the children in our care, even as the union has continued to try to negotiate a new evaluation system."

Mulgrew wrote in his letter that he would only meet with the DOE if it's strictly about the evaluations and nothing else, which is something that perplexes Walcott and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Earlier this month, both men appeared on the "John Gambling Show" to air out their grievances with the UFT.

"It's really tough to negotiate when the UFT walks away from the table," said Walcott. "Mr. Mulgrew has instructed his negotiators that they shouldn't negotiate with us, at all-- they shouldn't even talk to us on other issues. That's tough to really operate from."

Mulgrew stayed the course in his letter.

"Given this history, at this time we will only meet with you to discuss a planning and roll-out process for the new evaluation system--in case we ever get to such an agreement," stated Mulgrew. "We understand that an evaluation system that will create a constructive practice in each school that will enhance instruction and benefit our over 1.1 million students is a critical opportunity. An evaluation system that will change the culture of our schools is something that the UFT has been working on for over three years."