April 09, 2008

NYSUT prevails in tenure change

Source: RA 2008
Caption: NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi talks with Board member Carol Slotkin, left, and RSD Ann Harrison at the Local and Retiree Council Presidents Conference.

The New York Times headline at the top of the page said it all: "Legislators Balk at Tying Teacher Tenure to Student Tests." The story in Wednesday's edition recounts NYSUT's leading role in securing language that bars the use of student test scores in tenure determinations.

The bill says that "the teacher shall not be granted or denied tenure based on student performance data," a strongly worded protection that the Times characterized as "the latest rebuke to ( New York City) Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's agenda." He had personally lobbied in Albany to use student scores as a yardstick for tenure.

As NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi told the Times, "Student assessments are designed to assess students, not teachers."

The New York Sun also took note of "a late agreement today on a legislative proposal pushed by one of Albany's most powerful lobbyists, the New York State United Teachers union."

The tenure language has a two-year sunset clause, although Iannuzzi noted: "The Assembly and the Senate wisely recognize the potential for misuse of student test scores, and we believe this language will stand the test of time."

A study group may be established to look at tenure standards.

"As teachers, we know how important it is to use tests in the way they were intended," the NYSUT president said. "This is a significant win."