State lawmakers, including the head of the Assembly, said they back a plan by the state Education Department to delay for nearly a year a requirement that school districts install new teacher evaluations.
Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch said yesterday she has directed the Education Department to drop a Nov. 15 deadline for the state’s nearly 700 school districts to approve new teacher and principal evaluations.
The deadline was included in the state budget approved April 1, and districts faced having their state aid frozen if they didn’t comply.
But Tisch and some lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said the deadline should be pushed to Sept. 1, 2016, saying districts will need more time to negotiate with local unions and put the evaluations in place. It won’t be until the end of June that the Education Department will even have the final evaluation regulations in place.
“Our goal and objective is to not have any school district not get the funds that we are put forward in the budget,” Heastie told Gannett’s Albany Bureau at the Capitol today. “And if school districts need more time to get the plans together and renegotiate with the local unions, we think they should have that right.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, however, has rejected Tisch’s move, arguing that the law approved in the state budget requires evaluations to be completed by Nov. 15 — and links increases in state aid to having the evaluations completed.
“The law is clear that the additional state funding is linked to a teacher evaluation system, just like last year,” Cuomo’s counsel, Alphonso David, said in a statement. “The state Education Department and Chancellor Tisch should do their job properly and competently and enact the regulations governing the process by the end of June as prescribed by the law.”
Senate Education Committee chairman John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, said the goal should be to make sure the new evaluations are done right and to the benefit of students. He said the state Legislature and Cuomo agreed during the budget to let the Education Department and the Board of Regents handle the implementation.
“The Legislature and the governor, we gave authority to SED and the Board of Regents,” Flanagan told Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “And I don’t know that we should be in a position to automatically second guess anything that they do, even in the initial stages.”
Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown, Westchester County, questioned whether even September 2016 would be enough time for schools to get their arms around a new evaluation system and agreed to the terms with local teachers’ unions.
“It is a huge undertaking,” Murphy said. “As important as this is, to rush it, is completely wrong. And it’s tied to school aid, and that’s unacceptable.”