Bloomberg tells Albany teacher evals a 'sham'

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ALBANY -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to the Capitol yesterday and blasted new teacher evaluations statewide as "shams" and "a fraud on the public," created to extract school aid, not improve teachers.

He told state legislators that they were irresponsible in passing the 2010 law because he said it ties school aid to union approval of local teacher evaluations, which he has been unable to negotiate for New York City. He said that unions have no incentive to approve effective evaluations and that denying aid hurts only students.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, had pushed for the law.

The mayor, an independent, and the United Federation of Teachers union cannot agree on a local system to evaluate teachers. The evaluations aim to identify "unsatisfactory" ones and provide remedial help to improve performance.

Failure to meet the Jan. 17 deadline is expected to cost New York City schools $250 million in state aid as a penalty, and result in a lower base of state aid for years to come. Bloomberg said that will continue shortchange the city's 1 million students for years.

After his three-hour testimony, Bloomberg wouldn't say if he has any indication that he can recover the lost aid through the legislature despite failing to agree on a union deal.

Bloomberg said no other state requires union approval of effective, local teacher evaluations, which he said is "impossible."

UFT president Michael Mulgrew has blamed Bloomberg for the lack of a deal. Mulgrew said the Bloomberg administration has been uncompromising on key issues, making it impossible to reach agreement.

Without the evaluation plan for its 75,000 teachers, the city stands to lose $250 million in state aid and $200 million in grants this year. Although the city Department of Education has a $19.7 billion operating budget for the nation's largest school district, the lost state aid would be felt.

Cuomo, however, has declared his teacher evaluation system a success. Ninety-nine percent of the state's 700 school districts met the deadline for putting teacher and principal evaluations in place. The evaluations were part of a package of education reforms included in the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" competition among states. New York schools were awarded $700 million in federal aid.

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