May 29, 2013
State and local education officials are preparing to work through the weekend on a teacher evaluation system that will be imposed on New York City, an outcome that resulted from years of failed labor talks between the city and its teachers union.
State Education Commissioner John King gets the final say on how city teachers will be evaluated using a process outlined earlier this month. He’ll formally start that process on Thursday, when officials from the Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers each have four hours to present their cases during arbitration hearings. The Council on School Supervisors and Superintendents, which represents principals, is slotted to present during a four-hour block on Friday morning.
King plans to release his plan, which is likely to borrow from each group’s proposal but does not have to, by Saturday afternoon.
City and union officials — and reporters — will then go into high gear to understand the process that King has devised, which will go into effect immediately for next year.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said union staff who have been working on evaluations would be on hand Saturday to receive King’s plan as soon as it is released. The rest of the union’s leadership is planning to report to work at noon on Sunday, with the goal of completing analysis of the plan in time to get a message out to members on Monday. On Monday afternoon, the union has called a meeting with its Teacher Evaluation Negotiating Committee, a group of about 150 members who have provided occasional feedback during the extended negotiations over evaluations.
Mulgrew said he would outline the process in a message to members this week. But he said he was not concerned about Thursday’s audience with King, which he said would likely be “both a presentation and a cross-examination.”
“I’m very comfortable defending what we’re trying to do,” he said. ”If you can’t defend your position, you shouldn’t be there.”
Meanwhile, 11 advocacy groups that have supported the push for new evaluations that weigh student test scores are weighing in with last-minute tips for King.
“Nobody wants New York City to become the latest example of a school system that replaces an old, flawed evaluation system with an equally flawed new one,” the groups wrote in a letter sent to King on Tuesday. They outline four attributes they would like to see in a new evaluation system: a rubric with no more than 10 rating areas; an influence for student surveys; a reasonable administrative burden for teachers and principals; and “a fair, efficient appeals process.”
The requests seem equally likely to satisfy and distress both the city and the United Federation of Teachers. The union has rejected the idea of using student surveys to rate teachers, while the Bloomberg administration has sought to limit teachers’ ability to appeal low ratings.
The local and national groups that signed the letter are Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, Educators 4 Excellence—New York, Families for Excellent Schools, National Council on Teacher Quality, NYCAN, StudentsFirst NY, Students for Education Reform—New York, Teach Plus, TNTP, and Turnaround for Children.