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OpinionColumnistsLane Filler

Union poised to win New York's education battle

Many desks were empty in this classroom at

Many desks were empty in this classroom at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School as students opted out of taking the state's English Language Arts test Thursday, April 16, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

It is highly likely that teacher evaluations won't be linked to student test results in New York for the next two to three years, according to education sources.

Any such agreement to the change would represent a huge triumph for New York State United Teachers. The news is a speed bump for State Senate Republicans, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Board of Regents, and the state and federal education departments.

A teacher evaluation plan based 20 percent on state tests, 30 percent on local tests or measures and 50 percent on teacher observation was supposed to be introduced this week at the monthly meeting of the Regents.

However, that was kiboshed when the Regents and state Education Department were informed that Cuomo found the proposal, a retreat from the newest approved evaluation plan unacceptable.

The current evaluations are split 50-50 between student test results and observations but say teachers must do poorly at both to be penalized. The alternative that's surfacing while efforts continue to hammer out a long-term solution is an agreement to drop the linkage for several years, according to the sources. And State Senate Republicans, NYSUT, the Regents and the SED are apparently on board.

It's a turnaround but not a shock: NYSUT got many parents to opt kids out of their spring tests, and union leaders would not have backed down after such a victory.

Even in Congress, the Senate and House are set to begin conferencing a federal bill that may well kill Washington's demand that teachers be graded partially on student testing in return for some federal funding.

Those who favor the education reforms of the past few years seem to be willing to call a cease-fire in a war they were losing. Whether or how they ever rejoin the battle remains to be seen.

This was featured in The Point, the editorial board's daily newsletter that goes inside New York politics. Click here to subscribe (mobile users, use the link above).

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