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Queens Chronicle

Teacher evaluation deal failure "a tragedy," says Cuomo

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Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 4:58 pm | Updated: 1:58 pm, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

A day after the city and teachers union failed to reach an agreement on a teacher evaluation deal, costing the city $250 million in state aid, the Cuomo administration is asking the city to get its act together.

In a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, state Education Commissioner John King seemed to imply the Mayor Bloomberg shouldered most of the blame for the failed negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers, and said the city was not prepared to implement an evaluations system should it have been agreed to.

Speaking to the press Friday afternoon, King said state's impression was that the deal agreed upon included a sunset provision.

"The deal I understood they would submit [Wednesday] morning was for a 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 plan," he said.

If true, that would give credibility to the UFT's claim that both sides had agreed on a plan with a sunset provision until the mayor balked Thursday morning. 

Gov. Cuomo said both sides were to blame for the failure. In an interview on WOR's "The Jon Gambling Show," Friday morning, the governor said he was repeatedly asked by the city to extend the deadline for evaluations, but he refused. 

"A deadline is a deadline," he said. 

Bloomberg and the UFT have been blaming each other for the failure to reach an agreement. The mayor said he was opposed to two sticking points the UFT made; to sunset the deal in two years and to allow for more arbitration hearings for grievances filed. Walcott said that would interfere with the principals of the schools. 

"I could not agree to the UFT’s demands because they would have stripped principals of much of your existing authority," the chancellor said. 

Nearly every school district in the state has sunset provisions in the teacher evaluation deals they agreed to with unions. 

The state commissioner further ordered the city DOE to come up with a plan to implement a teacher evaluation system by Feb. 15 and urged the city and unions to continue negotiations. Both sides have said they are ready to get back to the table.

"I want to thank commissioner King for clarifying many of the issues around the UFT’s negotiations with the DOE over a new teacher evaluation system, particularly the sunset provision," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement.  "We remain committed to a new evaluation system, and to discussions with the DOE that will be necessary in order for the city to meet the commissioner’s new February 15 deadline for training plans and protocols."

But both King and Cuomo confirmed that with the deadline passed, the $250 million in state aid is lost. 

"The city's not going to get the funding," Cuomo said this morning. "it's a tragedy."


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