The governor's new teacher evaluation law is nothing
short of malpractice - and the work to find
the right approach now shifts to the Regents and
"Let's be absolutely clear: NYSUT rejects this evaluation
system," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee.
"It is an unworkable, convoluted plan that undermines
local control, disrespects principals and school administrators,
guts collective bargaining and further feeds the
The deadlines imposed under the new law are totally
unreasonable. The Regents must have regulations in
place by June 30; school districts are supposed to have
a state-approved APPR plan by Nov. 15, or risk losing their
promised state aid increases. Regents Chancellor Merryl
Tisch has said she wants to administratively extend the
time districts are being given, so that they may have until
Sept. 1, 2016 to put their plans in place.
As NYSUT moves forward on a number of fronts to fix
what the governor has broken, the union is calling on the
Regents to step up and do what they can to mitigate the
The first call of action: NYSUT is urging the Regents to
hold public hearings in their judicial district areas to solicit
input on what's needed to fix testing and evaluations -
before they consider pending regulatory provisions. On the
first day after NYSUT put out the call for public hearings,
more than 22,000 email messages were sent to Regents.
Soon after, Tisch announced plans for an "APPR Learning
Summit" on May 7 in Albany. It would include stakeholder
groups representing teachers, superintendents, principals,
parents and school board members. The event is invitationonly,
but the day-long summit will be live-streamed.
also set up a special email address to take in comments:
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said scheduling
the Albany hearing is a good first step for the Regents to
gather essential feedback. NYSUT members should continue
reaching out directly to their local Regent. The union
is committed to working productively with the Regents,
many of whom were just elected after two incumbents
were ousted by the Legislature.
In a letter to Tisch after the budget was approved,
Fortino shared the union's year-long work and recommendations
of its own task force on teacher evaluations.
"While some of our recommendations would require additional
changes in the law, our positions in favor of multiple
measures, local control and limiting the impact of state
tests are within your current authority," Fortino wrote. "We
believe there is room for the Regents to deemphasize
standardized testing and emphasize
teacher development to improve
Specifically, NYSUT is calling on the
Regents to adopt regulations that limit the
impact of state tests, maximize local control
and help teachers grow throughout their
careers. Districts need to have real options
for local assessments and a system that
recognizes the value of professional conversations
between principals and teachers by
limiting the input of independent evaluators.
NYSUT strongly opposes the law's requirement
for "independent" evaluators to
perform at least one observation. "This will
add bureaucratic red tape and cost while
overriding community control," Fortino said.
"Observations should be handled by building
principals and, where negotiated, peer evaluators,
who are more attuned to local needs."
Fortino also urged the Regents to limit the
weight of any student growth model - and
to improve it by adding factors that provide
a better measure of poverty, district fiscal
capacity and student demographics.
At a time when many states are de-emphasizing
state testing, editorial boards
around New York state and national figures
are questioning why the governor
is moving in the opposite direction.
As Cuomo's approval ratings are
steadily sinking, polls show
voters do not think student
test scores should weigh
heavily in teacher evaluations
and they definitely want
less standardized testing.