ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 10, 2012 - New York State United Teachers today respectfully disagreed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's characterization of New York's teacher evaluation law enacted in 2010 in concert with the state's Race to the Top application.
"This legislation was not designed to protect unions but, in fact, was jointly supported by NYSUT and the State Education Department, and had strong bi-partisan support in the Assembly and Senate. In fact, it has been widely lauded for its focus on strengthening teacher effectiveness to enhance student learning," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "The law has been recognized as a national model precisely because it emphasizes the value of collaboration."
"New York is ranked No. 2 by the U.S. Department of Education in the Race to the Top awards on the strength of the law being called into question," he added. "We share the governor's frustration with implementation. However, the failure lies not with the law, or with teachers and local school districts, but with the State Education Department's lack of capacity to provide what's needed to move implementation forward."
The U.S. Department of Education noted two shortcomings with New York's implementation - SED's failure to develop a working data system and delays caused by SED's appeal of a court decision that faulted it for issuing regulations at odds with state law. Iannuzzi stressed that issues with a working data system rest solely with SED, as does the appeal of the court's decision, noting that even after winning the lawsuit, NYSUT has offered language that would immediately resolve the matters under appeal.
"The commissioner and Regents have everything they need to settle this now and allow teachers and administrators to get back to creating the means to improve student performance," Iannuzzi continued. "The offer is on the table, but there has been no response."
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, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.