Millions lost after teacher evaluation talks fail


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

City school students just got a hard lesson in how not to compromise.

Millions of dollars in education money was lost after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) failed to agree on a teacher evaluation system.

They had until midnight on January 18 to reach a deal or schools would forfeit $250 million in state education aid and be ineligible for $200 million in education grant funds.

“Since we established one of the strongest teacher evaluation models in the nation last year, 98 percent of school districts have successfully implemented them,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo as the deadline approached. “The remaining districts and their unions have until midnight tonight to do the same or they will forfeit the increase in education aid they have been counting on and both parties will have failed the children they serve.”

Each side of the negotiation table blamed the other for the stalemate.

The UFT said that Bloomberg had blown the teacher evaluation deal after they had reached an agreement in the early hours of January 17.

“Despite long nights of negotiation and a willingness on the part of teachers to meet the Department of Education halfway — the intransigence of the Bloomberg administration on key issues has made it impossible to reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

“Thousands of parents have gotten a lesson this week, as the mayor’s ‘my way or the highway’ approach has left thousands of schoolchildren stranded at curbs across the city by the school bus strike,” he added.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, said that every time the two parties approached a deal, the UFT “moved the finish line back.”

“Instead of working with us to tie up the loose ends of this agreement, they continued to insert unrelated, extraneous issues into these negotiations. The effect was to set the talks back, time and time again,” said the mayor.

According to Bloomberg, there were three areas of disagreement.

The UFT wanted the agreement to end in June 2015. That condition would have made the evaluation system “meaningless,” said the mayor, because the process of removing ineffective teachers takes two years.

Also, the union wanted to double the number of arbitration hearings for teachers who file grievances over the evaluation process and wanted to change the method of scoring the evaluations.

If he had agreed to those stipulations, said Bloomberg, then it would more difficult to “weed out ineffective teachers.”

What both sides did agree on was that the students have suffered the biggest loss.

 

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