By early afternoon Monday, the reported deal to make teacher evaluations public in New York has gone from done to doubtful as teachers unions, Senate Republicans, Assembly Democrats and Gov. Andrew Cuomo jockey for position. Cuomo is pushing for easier access to more information for more people than the unions and the legislative leaders want. Now, with Monday evening's deadline to print bills for passage by the end of session Thursday just hours away, a make-or-break meeting is scheduled for this afternoon, in the traditional room, with the traditional three men.
If no deal is made, the information will be made entirely public to all, which would be fine. That being said, here are some questions that should be answered, and answered well, before any such bill limiting the spread of that information passes:
1. Does anyone really believe it’s possible, in the age of the Internet, chat rooms, and neighborhood and school websites, to put out information on the evaluations of specific teachers only to parents, without seeing that data travel through the neighborhood at warp speed?
2. When lawmakers say only parents would be able to see teacher evaluations, which parents do they mean? The ones whose kids have the teacher now? The ones whose kids might have the teacher next year? The ones who are trying to decide what district to buy a home in, whose kids may or may not have that teacher in 5 years?
3. Why force a parent who has the legal right to information to fill out a Freedom of Information Law request before getting that data?