Cuomo: School Increases To Depend on Teacher Evaluations

SUNY, CUNY Funding Stays Flat
 
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
 
NEW YORK — After three years of state cuts to education, Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget for 2012-2013 increases aid to the public schools by $805 million, or roughly 4 percent, but links a large chunk of that money to the implementation of a contentious teacher evaluation agreement.
 
The governor said that the State Education Department and teachers’ unions will have 30 days to agree on new evaluation systems and one year to implement them, or school districts will miss out on millions in school aid.
 
More than half a billion dollars in federal education aid is already in jeopardy in New York state because Washington’s Race to the Top funding is contingent on the evaluations. In New York City, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) objects to basing evaluations mainly on the results of the annual student tests and wants the right to appeal evaluations before an independent arbitrator. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has criticized the union for what he calls “foot dragging.”
 
“I hope the UFT will not recklessly jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars for our schools by insisting on endless obstacles to removing ineffective teachers from our classrooms,” he said Tuesday. 
 
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement that he hoped “pressure will now be put on the mayor, will make him come back to the negotiating table and help us get this evaluation system done, which is what we want to do.”
 
The budget also bails out the state’s Regents testing program, which was slashed by $8 million last year. Seventy-six percent of the $805 million increase in state aid will be directed to high-needs school districts.
 
SUNY and CUNY Funding Stays the Same
 
In general, funding will remain the same as last year for SUNY and CUNY colleges. 
 
CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said that a preliminary review “indicates that the proposed budget provides vitally important stability in support of the university’s operations.” 
 
CUNY is experiencing the highest student enrollments in its history and is attracting record numbers of high academic achievers, Goldstein added. 
SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher had praise for Cuomo’s “holding the line on state funding for SUNY. 
 
“Governor Cuomo has once again proven to be SUNY’s champion. He has clearly made the improvement of our state’s education system a top priority for 2012-13, and I applaud him for doing so in what continues to be a difficult economic climate,” she said. 
 
But SUNY students said holding the line wasn’t good enough. Save Our SUNY (SOS) and its statewide affiliate New York Students Rising (NYSR) said in a release, “Years of deep and painful budget cuts cannot be erased by a maintenance of the status quo, minor budgetary increases, or partial support. Financial support to SUNY and CUNY has steadily decreased during the Cuomo administration. In his 2011-2012 Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo suggested a 10 percent cut in operating aid to community colleges, SUNY, and CUNY meaning that over the last 4 years public higher education has been cut by over 30 percent.”