Cuomo asks parents to track teacher ratings

Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the

Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the district-by-district data, originally scheduled for a December release, would instead have to be put out early in 2013. (Credit: istock)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants parents to keep track of their school districts' new plans to rate teachers -- but some Long Island education leaders think the governor is getting ahead of himself.

Tuesday, a gubernatorial website -- NY Students First -- posted an interactive map listing nearly 700 districts across the state. Next to the name of each district is a check-off box, where viewers will be able to see whether districts have submitted teacher evaluation plans to Albany and obtained state approval.

The deadline for those plans' submission is Jan. 16, and Cuomo wants parents, students and others to turn up the heat on districts to finish the work before then. Under law, districts must negotiate the plans with their teacher unions.

"I hope the countless parents and advocates who have been demanding accountability in our schools will use www.studentsfirst.com to get involved," the governor said in a prepared statement.

For now, viewers of the website will see only empty check-off boxes. Cuomo and state legislators have not enacted the final version of a state law requiring teacher evaluations. Until that happens, the state Education Department said it cannot start approving districts' plans.

Dennis Tompkins, a department spokesman, said the agency considers the governor's initiative "a great way to track progress."

Some local school officials, however, said they fear the empty boxes will give a false impression that they're dragging their feet. Statewide, dozens of districts have drafted preliminary evaluation plans and posted them on their own websites.

Lorna Lewis, superintendent of East Williston schools, said the governor is being "disingenuous" in suggesting otherwise.

"The legislation hasn't even been approved yet. How are we being held to a standard that hasn't been finalized?" said Lewis, who chairs a curriculum committee for the State Council of School Superintendents. East Williston has posted its evaluation plan on the district's website.

So has Hicksville. The schools chief there, Maureen Bright, who is president-elect of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents, called the governor's website "premature."

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