Just hours before Governor Cuomo's imposed deadline, a deal was reached Thursday between the state teachers' union and the Education Department to create a new statewide teacher evaluation system. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- As Governor Andrew Cuomo's self-imposed deadline for a deal on teacher evaluations loomed, teachers' unions and state Education Department officials announced they had a tentative agreement on how best to rate educators.
State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi said, "Today is historic because we're providing students with the opportunity to have an effective teacher in front of every classroom."
The agreement alters a 2010 law that Cuomo has criticized for being too complicated. Under the deal, 60 percent of an overall rating would be placed on classroom performance. Forty percent would be placed on student achievement, with equal weight placed on state tests and local assessments. But districts also have the option of only using the state tests for the measure. Perhaps most significantly, Education Commissioner John King may reject local evaluation plans deemed insufficient.
It's really about clarity and specificity," King said. "I think there was ambiguity and certainly that was a factor in the litigation. Trying to resolve that ambiguity, I think now we have clarity for districts in their bargaining units and they'll be able to move forward and expeditiously in implementing the system."
The agreement is the result of an ultimatum Cuomo issued in January with the goal of ending a lawsuit between the unions and the Education Department: either resolve the disagreement over how to rate teachers or he would place his own evaluation plan into a budget amendment.
Governor Cuomo said, "I think sometimes the governor has a role to play from a leadership position, just in making sure things get done and setting a deadline and providing encouragement. I think it's fair to say I provided encouragement -- that's a good word."
But questions remain as how much this will cost local districts, who have to collectively bargain their own plans by January 17 or lose a four percent increase in state aid.
Tim Kremer of the School Boards Association said, "I need to see this law, this agreement, and figure out what in fact we will be able to negotiate in school districts throughout the state."
In addition, the teachers' union says its lawsuit is merely on hold while the new evaluation plan is implemented.