Editorial: Cuomo rightly pushing for NYC teacher evaluations
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is resisting pressure to restore $240 million in school aid that the city lost in January when it failed to make a deal with the United Federation of Teachers on teacher evaluations.
That hurts, even for a system with an annual budget of more than $24 billion, but it's hard to blame the governor for staying true to his word. Meanwhile, there's something far more helpful he's already doing.
He's pushing the State Legislature to pass a bill telling the state Education Department to impose a strong and credible evaluation system of its own on city teachers.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg pulled the plug on a deal with the UFT in January when he realized it would leave the city with no clear way to dismiss subpar teachers. It was the right thing to do. The city wanted a process that would allow teachers to be removed if they were rated "ineffective" for two years in a row. The UFT, the city contends, wanted a process that would expire a day before the removals could begin.
While the blown deadline will cost the city nearly a quarter-billion dollars, continued failure to devise a genuine teacher evaluation process could do far more damage: It could cripple Bloomberg's whole school reform program.
Bloomberg is a lame duck -- his mayoralty ends at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31 -- and without a rigorous mechanism for improving teacher performance in place by then, the chances of it ever happening grow slim. And with Bloomberg almost history, the UFT has little incentive to reach a compromise. It's a better bet for union leaders to cross their fingers, drag their feet, and hope a union-friendly candidate follows Bloomberg into office.
For the rest of us, though, the best choice is to cross our fingers and hope the state will impose an evaluation process with some real teeth. The current system is a joke: Of 73,000 public school teachers citywide, just 11 were fired for ineffective performances in the 2011-12 school year. Thirty-nine more quit or retired under pressure.
The city's pupils and parents deserve an evaluation process that at least passes the laugh test. Albany needs to act.