This is probably not how Mike Bloomberg imagined his education legacy: mired in mud after the leadership of UFT, NYC’s teachers’ union, declined to sign onto an agreement that would tie student test scores to teaching evaluations, thus endangering NYC’s public education budget. The state had won $700 million through Race to the Top; receipt of a big share of the money is contingent on an agreement with UFT to come to consensus on those prickly value-added measures. Each district – there’s about 700 in New York State – negotiated separated. Almost all came to terms, with the exception of 3 small districts and New York City.
The breakdown in negotiations in NYC followed the first few days of a city-wide school bus strike which mostly affected kids with disabilities. About half of them never got to school yesterday.
According to today’s New York Times, the State Legislature “approved the broad outlines of the new teacher evaluation system. Twenty percent of the rating was to be based on students’ growth on state tests. Another 20 percent was to be based on local measures, bargained with the union. Of the remaining 60 percent, classroom observations must be a majority of the criteria, but student surveys could be included.”
That 20% doesn’t come close to the percentage suggested in the recent Gates Foundation report. (See coverage here.) Researchers there said that for evaluations to be meaningful, student test data must represent between 33% – 50%, and ideally more. UFT doesn’t know a good deal when it sees it.
Mr. Bloomberg said the deal had fallen apart in the middle of the night after the teachers’ union made last-minute demands that he said would “undercut the intent of the law” — a statement the union disputed.
“There were things that they had come in at the last moment that were obviously designed to keep the deal from working,” the mayor said.
First, the mayor said, the union demanded that a so-called sunset clause be put in place for 2015, effectively making it impossible to get rid of ineffective teachers because the dismissal process takes two years. By the time a teacher would be dismissed, the evaluation system would no longer be in place, Mr. Bloomberg said, making a “joke” of the law.
“To have such a sunset clause would be a sham,” he added.
The union contends that the sunset clause had been introduced earlier in the negotiations.