|Updated: This story has been updated to include statements from the teachers’ and principals’ union leaders.
The public end came at 1:49 p.m. in the form of an email from the teachers’ union with the subject line “UFT President: Bloomberg torpedoes teacher evaluation deal.” What ensued was a flurry of recriminations as both sides blamed the other for the failure to agree on how to fairly evaluate a teacher’s performance.
Bloomberg said the actual end of talks came earlier, when union negotiators “unilaterally walked away from our negotiations” at around 3 a.m. Thursday. He complained that they kept adding demands to a deal that was essentially done. One sticking point, he said, was that the union wanted the proposed evaluation system to last only two years.
“The UFT wanted the entire agreement to sunset in June of 2015. That condition would essentially render the entire agreement meaningless,” the mayor said because the process of removing an ineffective teacher takes two years.
The president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, disputed the mayor’s version of events, going so far as to say the mayor was “lying.” He said negotiators had reached agreement but Bloomberg “blew it up.”
“The mayor’s constant need to always say I need more and it’s either my way or the highway is why today we do not have that agreement,” he told reporters. “I am sitting here trying not to be too angry.”
The president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, Ernest Logan, also said it was the mayor who scuttled a deal with the principals too. He said all parties involved in talks understood there would be a sunset clause; for the CSA it was a one-year plan.
“The CSA and the DOE were closing in on a final agreement on January 16, just before midnight. However, moments later, the Mayor intervened, demanding an agreement for an indefinite period of time,” Logan said.
“It is important to know that the overwhelming majority of school systems throughout the state have reached a one-year agreement in order to evaluate and modify it later to better serve our children. The state law provides for a one-year evaluation plan and the mayor supported the enactment of this legislation,” he added in a statement.
Earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would not budge from his expectation that school districts meet the Jan. 17 deadline in order to qualify for state aid.
“Today is the final deadline for the handful of school districts, including New York City, that have failed to get their teacher evaluation systems in place. Please hear me – there will be no extensions or exceptions. Since we established one of the strongest teacher evaluation models in the nation last year, 98% of school districts have successfully implemented them. 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.”
As a result, city schools face losing up to $450 million in state aid and grant money. The mayor said it was too early to know where the cuts would occur but they would come from the education budget.
Mulgrew said his members should expect 11 more months of “darkness,” as they wait for Bloomberg’s tenure in City Hall to end.