November 23, 2009
A reader points us to another sign that New York’s teacher tenure law might hurt the state’s Race to the Top chances: In a memo released in September, the Gates Foundation removed New York from a list of states able to receive help building its application.
The memo specifically named the tenure law, which bans school districts from using student data as a factor in teacher tenure decisions, as the reason New York was struck from the list.
The foundation had vowed in August to give 15 states $250,000 each to hire consultants to help with applications, and New York was on the official list. But when the foundation extended its offer of aid to any state meeting its criteria, Gates director of education Vicki Phillips said New York would no longer be eligible until it makes “explicit progress on…removing barriers to linking student and teacher data.”
UPDATE: Christopher Williams, spokesman for the Gates Foundation, told me Phillips’ memo referred to New York’s chances at future foundation initiatives. “It means we probably won’t be making a lot of grants unless the law is changed,” he said. But the foundation is not cutting the state off from the aid it is receiving to help build its Race the Top application, he said.
State education officials have insisted that state law is not a barrier to matching teachers to student test scores. “We evaluate teachers on the basis of student achievement every year in New York,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told me in an interview earlier this month.
The memo was first reported by Michele McNeil at EdWeek’s Politics K-12 blog.