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Teacher evals available only to parents in big win for unions

Teacher.

Teacher. Credit: iStock

Score one for teachers.

State legislators voted Thursday to limit access to teacher evaluations to parents only, giving teachers unions one of their biggest political victories of the past two years.

The bill - championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo - means only the parents and guardians of students will get to see teacher evaluations.

The state plans to post the evaluation information online, but redact teachers' names. But the bill doesn't punish parents who give out the information on their own.

Unions and supportive lawmakers said the measure "strikes a balance" between parents' right to know and teachers' right to privacy.

"This is a tremendous victory for the union," said Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, "because it impacts every one of our members [kindergarten] through [grade] 12 and ... it sets a framework for controlling access to [employment information] for all public employees."

The rush to act stemmed from a court decision earlier this year that determined New York City teachers' ratings should be publicly available.

The Legislature approved the measure as one of its last acts of the 2012 session and after a bit of political maneuvering during its final week.

Cuomo proposed the bill at midnight Monday after indicating he wouldn't.

The Senate approved the bill a few hours later by a vote of 58-1.

Though small in number, opponents were vocal in their outrage. Some wanted full public disclosure, while others thought the evaluation system flawed.

Kevin Colon, 43, of the Upper East Side, who has a teen that goes to public schools, wished it could go farther.

"They should make the evaluations of all of them public," he said. 

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