On a sweet spring day, workers from the Capitol, the Legislative Office Building in Albany and other nearby buildings ate their lunch on park benches under the shelter of leafy trees … and festive, yellow balloons.
The balloons were handed out to passersby and tied to dozens of benches, trees, doorways and lampposts to alert lawmakers and lunchers that it is time to take action to improve the methods of teacher evaluations – and to do so without tying that action to other laws. Balloons swayed in the breeze on rows leading to the Capitol and the LOB while, inside, NYSUT leaders met with lawmakers and their staffs.
“Our message: No strings attached!” said President Andy Pallotta, holding a dozen balloons in the halls of the Capitol. “Pass the bill, S.8301, now — take a vote, say ‘yes,’ it’s not hard — with no other legislation attached to it.”
“Fifty-five senators – including all Democrats and the vast majority of Republicans – sponsor S.8301, which would decouple standardized tests from teacher evaluations and go a long way toward fixing the state’s broken testing and evaluation system,” Pallotta said.
“If Senate Majority Leader Flanagan wants to demonstrate to taxpayers the Senate is functioning effectively, I can think of no better way to do that than by passing a clean, bipartisan bill strictly on its merits” Pallotta continued. “It’s time to let teachers teach; let students learn and let the Senate vote.”
The Assembly voted 133-1 on May 2 to pass its version of the bill. The bill would allow school districts and unions to negotiate their own local performance review systems that help teachers grow professionally while meeting the unique needs of their students. It also gives school districts needed flexibility to curtail testing, especially in the early grades, and bars standardized test scores from becoming part of students’ permanent records.