Last Thursday in Albany, educators and legislators voiced displeasure with the teacher evaluation process and suggested a change of pace in its implementation.
The New York State Board of Regents heard testimony about the newly approved teacher evaluation system, with those against the process calling for a delay and those in favor pushing to keep things as they currently exist. Organized by the State Education Department, the goal of the event was to gather feedback from groups who represent the schools and districts that will be affected by the new policy.
School districts might have until September 2016 to implement the mandated changes for the new teacher evaluation system after the New York State Board of Regents stated changes couldn’t be in place by the fall. Initially, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted every district to have a finalized plan by Nov. 15, which would’ve left school districts and unions only a few months in the summer to finalize components of evaluation plans and secure state approval.
State legislators saluted the Regents for extending the deadline, with further approval from New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch.
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from administrators, teachers and school boards across the state,” said Tisch in a statement last month. “They’re concerned about the very tight time frame, and they’re right.” Tisch also said that extensions should be awarded to districts that face “hardship”—something the legislators also support.
According to Cuomo’s office, the Regents Board has the power to delay the new system, but they also said “hardships” should be sparingly awarded.
The New York State United Teachers union also hopped on the bandwagon with Cuomo and company respecting the process and giving teachers more time to tackle the task.
“The regulations should respect local control of education and collective bargaining rights,” read the NYSUT’s statement. “Local control of education by parents and elected school boards is a right enshrined in the education article of the state constitution. Similarly, the right of educators to bargain concerning their terms and conditions of employment is a fundamental right … Every new regulation should be written to respect and preserve these rights to the greatest possible extent.”
But some groups, such as StudentsFirstNY, want Cuomo’s plan to proceed as the governor intended and hold the teachers accountable right away.
“The State Education Department should act with urgency and within the timeline prescribed by the Legislature to create a fair and rigorous teacher evaluation system,” said StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis in a statement. “Parents have a right to know whether their children have equitable access to quality teachers, which is only possible with an evaluation system that properly incorporates student test results.”