Editors, Reporters, Assignment Editors:
ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 6, 2012 - New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi and other educators who are working as partners to design rigorous teacher and principal evaluation systems will join forces Monday to oppose State Education Commissioner John B. King's decision to suspend School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding. They will specifically detail how SED's suspension of districts' SIG funding is hurting their most vulnerable students.
Labor and management representatives from many of the 10 districts receiving SIG funding will gather on the steps of the State Education Department Building, 89 Washington Ave., at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9. The group will detail how SED's action is hurting students and how the state bureaucracy is frustrating local efforts at school improvement.
Iannuzzi noted only a small portion of the requirements for SIG funding are developing teacher and principal evaluations. "The truth is: The majority of the federal money is to provide direct help to the state's neediest students. Small classes, extra tutoring, technology and courses these students need to prepare for college are jeopardized by this decision to enforce an arbitrary deadline instead of doing what's best for students."
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira noted that superintendents and union leaders have been working diligently on the myriad details that go into designing comprehensive, rigorous and fair systems to evaluate teachers and principals. "New York's teacher evaluation law has been recognized by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan as one of the best in the nation. Implementing it, however, has been challenging and frustrating," Neira said. "Instead of short-circuiting the process and blocking funding for programs that help New York's most vulnerable students, we need the State Education Department to support our shared mission and work with us in the best interests of children. What we don't need is a punitive approach and more bureaucracy from the State Education Department that impedes the progress of schools."
The districts which lost SIG funding include: Albany, Buffalo, Greenburgh 11, New York City, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Roosevelt, Schenectady, Syracuse and Yonkers.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.