Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he is prepared to take over the teacher evaluation process in New York City if an agreement is not reached soon.
“It is my intention, if the impasse is not resolved shortly, to propose a law that would have the state take over the evaluation process and the state impose an evaluation system on the City of New York,” he said.
The state education department and Board of Regents would oversee the process, the governor said.
Still, Cuomo said he was hopeful that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the teachers’ union would be able to come to an agreement on a new evaluation system; he asked that they act fast. The city must also finalize an agreement with the principals’ union on an evaluation system, but those negotiations have been less contentious.
The city already missed a Jan. 17 deadline that tied a teacher evaluation agreement to an increase in state education aid worth about $240 million for this fiscal year. Cuomo reiterated that the city would not be able to get that money back, but said more money hangs in the balance. The city could lose another increase in education aid if it does not have a new agreement in place by September. Plus, Cuomo said, the state has the authority to withhold or redirect hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education funds. New York City, technically, no longer qualifies for those funds without an evaluation plan in place.
The governor made his announcement as he headed into budget talks with legislative leaders in Albany.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he had not fully examined the governor’s proposal, but thought it was appropriate to put in place a default evaluation system.
“I don’t want to see the children of the city of New York lose $250 million in perpetuity because two people can’t make an agreement,” Silver said.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the union prefers a negotiated settlement, but does welcome the governor’s involvement.
“It’s good to know that should talks fail again, people who actually understand education will be part of the decision-making process,” Mulgrew said in a statement.
The Bloomberg administration has not yet responded to the governor’s remarks.