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Cuomo’s Arbitrary Deadline

TimesLedger Newspapers

At a time when the city Department of Education is faced with overcrowded classrooms, outdated textbooks and a shortage of basic supplies, the city has lost out on up to $450 million in state education funds.

This happened because the city and the teacher’s union failed to reach an agreement on a plan for teacher evaluations by a deadline set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Almost every school district got it done in the state except New York City,” said the governor. “There’s a very small handful that didn’t get it done and New York City is by far the largest. They asked me several times would I extend the deadline and I said no, because a deadline is a deadline.”

Both sides “failed,” he said.

We agree, but we question how the city’s children can lose out on nearly a half-billion dollars in school funds because the city and the unions failed to meet a deadline set by Albany.

A credible teacher evaluation system is vital to any school system. The city DOE must have a way to evaluate teachers and remove those who are no longer fit to teach.

But this money doesn’t belong to Cuomo or the state Department of Education. It came from taxpayers and the city deserves its fair share.

Under the current city law, passed in 2010, 20 percent of the evaluations must be based on students’ growth on state tests. Another 20 percent must be based on local measures and the remaining 60 percent must include classroom observations. The evaluations can also include parent or student surveys.

This seems reasonable, but the union wants the law to sunset in 2015. The city is opposed to this because it takes two years to remove a bad teacher.

Although we have been critical of the DOE, we are sure both sides want what’s best for the children. Losing $450 million is not good for our kids. The governor in his planned budget will give the city $224 million, but only if it and the union come to an agreement on evaluations.

Cuomo needs to find a more equitable way to put pressure on the city and the union to resolve the teacher evaluation dispute.

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