By Ashleigh Costello
NEW YORK – Mayor Michael Bloomberg showed his dismay last Friday after the New York legislature enacted a watered-down teacher evaluation plan that hides the results from the public.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a bill last Monday to supposedly “publicize” teacher evaluation scores, but with a caveat that the actual names of the teachers would be withheld.
Gov. Cuomo rejected the idea of “total disclosure” of teacher evaluations, so parents could know which teachers in their children’s schools are getting the job done. It should come as no surprise that Cuomo’s position is also that of the state’s teachers unions.
Mayor Bloomberg’s anger over the union victory was evident.
“The union is not there to help our students,” Bloomberg was quoted as saying by the New York Post. “Don’t ever think that. The union is there for its members to protect them. When they’re sex offenders, they protect them. When they’re criminals, they protect them. They do anything to protect them. They don’t focus on the students. They just use the students as a ploy.”
Gov. Cuomo defended his bill, saying the evaluations themselves “are a work in progress—to stereotype someone on the basis of (these), I’d be nervous about that.”
The effort to limit the release of teacher evaluation data was sparked by a court decision in February, which ordered the city to release controversial grades of more than 12,000 city teachers.
Under the adopted plan, parents can only obtain the evaluations of their children’s current teachers. There will be no way for parents to review the ratings of teachers who might be assigned to work with their children in the future.
“That’s the biggest flaw here,” said the mayor. “It’s nice to know the ratings of your (current) teacher. What do you do with it? The real answer is you’re already in the middle of the school year, and you can’t move your children then. It’s of no real use.”
Bloomberg has vowed to get as much teacher evaluation data to the public as possible, while still respecting the new law, according to the Post. On his radio show, he pledged to have schools “call every single parent” to ask if they want the scores sent to them instead of waiting for parents to contact the schools with requests.
Officials have acknowledged that such efforts could take a while and may extend past the mayor’s term. Bloomberg leaves office on Dec. 31, 2013.