By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
And poof, it was gone.
The failure of the New York City officials and the United Federation of Teachers to agree on a teacher evaluation system by Thursday night’s deadline has led to the loss of $250 million in state aid for city schools possibly another $200 million in future grants.
“It’s a tragedy, it really is a tragedy, and they both failed,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday. “I don’t know who’s right, who’s wrong, but I know they both failed, because we needed an agreement. And now the education system in the city is going to suffer.”
After intense last-minute negotiations, the city’s Department of Education and the teachers union failed to reach an agreement by the state deadline of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
All of the state's school districts had to submit a teacher evaluation plan in order to receive the increase in state education funds for the current school year. “More than 680 districts large and small from across the state, including the rest of the Big Five, were able to reach an agreement, but the city and UFT just couldn’t get there,” New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said. “Once again, the students will pay the price for this failure.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, one stumbling block was disagreement over a “sunset” provision, which would allow the largely untried process to be reevaluated after two years.
Hundreds of districts across the state have included this provision; 90 percent of plans approved by the state are good for one year, and then will be reevaluated.
Mayor Bloomberg told the Journal the union “waited until the last minute to raise the idea of giving the agreement an expiration date.” Union officials, however, said the city had agreed to a two-year sunset last week, and as proof provided a state form filled out by DOE officials that said the evaluation system would be in effect for two years, ending with the 2013-14 school year.
The state Education Department said it had provided extensive technical assistance to the two sides over the past week so that a plan could be quickly approved by the deadline.
“We’ve given them answers and options from approved plans. We have a detailed understanding of the proposals from both sides and their compliance with the law. Our advance work prepared us to thoroughly review and approve a plan in time to meet the deadline,” Commissioner King said.
Even though they missed the deadline, the City and UFT still have a legal obligation to continue to negotiate.
Mona Davids, a public school parent and president of the New York City Parents Union said in a statement, “This is a very sad day. The DOE and the UFT had an entire year to negotiate a teacher evaluation system, yet they waited until the last minute to begin serious negotiations. With only 13 percent of Black and Latino high school graduates college ready, I guess nobody will ever be held accountable for failing to provide our children with a high quality education.”