Good Morning
Good Morning
Long Island

Thousands sign petition for delay in teacher evaluation regulations

Dr. Michael Hynes, superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School

Dr. Michael Hynes, superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School District, speaks during a news conference where he urged the state for a year delay in rolling out its revised teacher evaluation system, in Patchogue on May 28, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

More than 21,000 school administrators, teachers and parents from across New York have signed a petition asking state education officials to suspend new teacher evaluation guidelines and to convene a panel of experts to craft an alternative plan by September 2016.

The request was made in a letter dated June 12 and addressed to the Board of Regents. The petition signers -- including some Long Island superintendents -- hail from 600 school districts, leaders of the group said.

The revised law, pushed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and passed by lawmakers April 1, requires public schools to get Education Department approval of new evaluation procedures by Nov. 15.

The system, the governor has said, favored teachers and gave too many educators high ratings.

The Regents, who carry out education policy, are expected to consider regulations to put the law into effect at their meeting Monday in Albany.

While the petitioners would like to see Regents press "pause" on the issue, the panel's power is limited, an Education Department spokesman said Friday in a statement.

"The board has a legal obligation to uphold the law, as enacted by the governor and the legislature," Jonathan Burman said. "They will, of course, discuss these issues at their meeting."

Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for Cuomo, said: "What's clear is that the current system, where 99 percent of teachers are rated effective, does not match student achievement. We shouldn't wait longer for true accountability to ensure that New York's children receive the best possible education."

The petitioners, in their letter, noted that seven of the 17 Regents this week called for delaying the reforms until September 2016.

"We see no good reason why the entire Board for Regents cannot unanimously stand up against this inadequate legislation by urging our legislators to suspend it," the letter said. "We recognize your obligation for compliance with the law, but we do not find this statutory duty to be in conflict with articulating a moral stance for improvement of the law."

Michael Hynes, superintendent of Patchogue-Medford schools, is among the Island school chiefs pressing for postponement. He said the current teacher and principal evaluation system, reliant on high-stakes tests, is his biggest concern.

"We should have someone look at everything from soup to nuts," Hynes said. "We don't even know if these tests are reliable and valid."

Hynes said the manner in which the new law was crafted is unfair and unwise.

"Making these decisions in a vacuum and unveiling them for the public schools to follow just doesn't work," he said. "We are saying, 'Don't throw everything out. Suspend it. Leave it alone for one year.' "

David Gamberg, superintendent of Southold and Greenport schools, said he's frustrated with the pace and scope of state and federal education initiatives, which have come at a breakneck pace for the past several years.

He also believes many of the initiatives should be re-examined. "You can't do it on the cheap and quickly," he said. "It needs the proper amount of time."

Latest Long Island News