Teachers unions and the state education department are running out of time to reach an agreement on a teacher evaluation plan before Governor Cuomo puts his own plan into his budget amendments. At the Capitol Tuesday, the governor continued to put pressure on educators while also expressing his confidence that a deal will get done. Capital Tonight reporter Nick Reisman has the latest.
NEW YORK STATE -- The contentious battle over teacher evaluations and how much emphasis should be placed on standardized tests is coming to a head this week as Governor Andrew Cuomo's Thursday deadline looms for state Education Department and the teachers unions to strike a deal.
“Teacher evaluations are probably the greatest reform in education. States have been working on it, but no state has really come up with a really good system yet and New York would actually be on the cusp of that,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo is prodding the Education Department and unions to reach a deal how best to evaluate teachers in the classroom and resolve a months old lawsuit. The governor says he'll put his own, simpler evaluation plan into his 30 day budget amendments if no deal is reached. Those amendments are due Thursday.
“The law is a highly prospective law. There's not a lot of wiggle room, which is one of the reasons why I'm optimistic they'll get it done,” said Cuomo.
The governor's top aide, Larry Schwartz, is also optimistic a deal can be reached, saying the negotiations so far have gone well.
“I think all parties are committed to reaching an agreement prior to Thursday. And I do think there's a collegiality in these discussions and these negotiations” Schwartz said.
Cuomo has been critical of the 2010 law that put the current evaluation system in place. He calls it too complicated and the subject of Albany deal making. But the measure has its defenders, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
“I don't know what specifics the governor is talking about. All I can tell you is the law that passed in 2010 was part of our Race to the Top application and New York State, as you know, came in second nationwide with that law in terms of getting a commitment for that money,” Silver said.
Thursday's evaluation deadline is just part one. The next step is for the evaluations to be implemented on the local level by January 2013. If the local districts fail to do so, they'll lose a promised four percent spending boost from the state.