In Surprise Veto, N.Y. Gov. Nixes Teacher-Evaluation ‘Safety Net’

By Stephen Sawchuk — December 30, 2014 1 min read
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has vetoed a bill to give teachers extra breathing room on new teacher evaluations, reversing course on a big issue and infuriating the state’s teachers’ union.

Cuomo, as my colleague Andrew Ujifusa reported back in June, had actually sponsored the legislation, which would have removed the portion of a teacher’s rating due to test scores if it caused them to receive an “ineffective” or “developing” rating. The safety net would have lasted two years. At the time of its creation, the legislation was seen as a compromise between the state and New York State United Teachers, which has protested the use of the test scores—especially with the new, harder common-core-aligned tests are coming up stream.

But then came the first round of results under the new teacher-evaluation system, a product of 2010 legislation. State results from 2013-14 showed a large majority of teachers, more than 97 percent, receiving the top two evaluation ratings. (The one exception to the pattern was in New York City, where 91 percent had top ratings, and more than 7 percent were deemed “developing.”)

Cuomo had criticized those ratings, saying they were “not real,” and calling on state and local officials to improve the accuracy of the system. It seems as though his decision to veto the bill was at least partially due to these results.

NYSUT has wasted no time in portraying Cuomo as a flip-flopper on the topic of teacher evaluation.

“The governor reneged on an agreement,” the union said in a statement. “With this veto, the governor has decided that teachers are the only ones who should be held accountable for the state’s failed implementation of the Common Core. We can’t understand why he is refusing to sign his own bill.”

I’d be remiss not to note, however, that NYSUT’s own position on the common core and evaluation has also been fairly convoluted.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.