media
May 01, 2015

More public comment essential to getting teacher evaluations right

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. May 1, 2015 – New York State United Teachers today said the Regents and State Education Department must hold public hearings following the drafting of regulations on the state's new teacher evaluation system to allow parents, educators and community members to provide essential input.

NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said that while the upcoming May 7 summit gives stakeholders an opportunity to comment as the State Education Department and Regents begin drafting regulations, there is currently no opportunity to weigh in after the draft regulations are completed. Although a 45-day public comment period is required following the drafting of regulations, that comment period is being skipped in this case because of the tight statutory deadline imposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"NYSUT is well aware of the unrealistic deadlines contained in the governor's convoluted and unworkable plan, and the pressure that puts on the Regents and SED to try and mitigate the worst of it. Still, those deadlines do not absolve them of their responsibility to listen carefully to parents and practitioners and make any necessary adjustments to the draft regulations they wind up writing," Magee said. "One month is plenty of time for SED and the Regents to hold public hearings and still meet their deadlines."

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino noted the union has already called on individual regents to hold local hearings to solicit public input as they begin considering how to mitigate the damage to teaching and learning stemming from the governor's poorly thought-out evaluation system. She said at least one regent, Judith Johnson, has earned appreciation from educators for indicating she would hold hearings in her region. Other regents have met directly with educators and parents in their regions.

"It is vitally important the Regents and State Education Department hear directly from the parents and teachers who live and work in their communities about how the governor's test-heavy agenda is hurting the classroom," Fortino said. "Once their draft regulations are complete, the Regents and SED must listen and weigh how these regulations will impact teaching and learning."

Fortino said educators are seeking an evaluation system that is fair and objective, fosters professional dialogue and helps teachers to hone their already strong skills in order to better serve students.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.