Assembly passes bill to slow down teacher evaluations

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new bill that passed the New York State Assembly with nearly unanimous support seeks to scale back some of the education reforms passed this spring as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget.

When the budget passed this spring, it largely took control of funds and teacher evaluations away from local districts. It made yearly teacher evaluations based 50 percent on the Common Core test.

But on Wednesday, 135 lawmakers in the assembly said that’s not the future they want for children in New York. Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara voted against the governor’s budget. He is also a co-sponsor of the new bill.

“Giving that local control; that local input back is what’s really going to make a difference here,” he said.

The new bill gives $8 million to state education, so local districts can create age appropriate tests and ends the reliance on tests from private vendors. It also gives districts access to questions and answers so they can understand what students are struggling with.

“More importantly where they need help,” Santabarbara said.

The bill also guarantees schools state aid regardless of the new teacher evaluation system.

“Our kids can’t wait,” Santabarbara said. “They need that state aid now. Our teachers need the resources. They need the tools.”

While the bill delays the evaluation system a year, it doesn’t say what percentage of those tests will impact a teacher’s review. Assemblyman Jim Tedisco wants the percentage lower. Others disagree.

Tedisco and Assembly member Catherine Nolan went back-and-forth on the issue at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“I don’t believe that our role here is to micromanage a multi-billion dollar agency,” Nolan said.

“Do you really think that a standardized test represents the competency of an educator?” Tedisco asked.

“I don’t think I understand the gentleman’s question,” Nolan countered. “Perhaps he could restate the question again. Perhaps he could restate it again.”

“Okay, you want me to restate it again?” Tedisco said.

“I would do my very, very best to give the gentleman the same courtesy that he has given me in recent weeks,” Nolan said. “Respect is a two-way street. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”

“Well, the one thing that is truthful that we just heard is that respect is a two-way street, and we should be respecting our educators in our schools in the state of New York,” Tedisco responded.

Schenectady City Schools Superintendent Larry Spring sent the following statement after the passing of the bill:

“The reforms outlined in this legislation are important steps toward the development of a testing program that is fair, reliable and valid.  I am encouraged that our state leaders will be mindful and fair and hopeful that they will continue to take steps to ensure equity and support strengthening New York State’s public schools.”  

The senate has also introduced a similar bill that has not been voted on, yet. One major difference is it doesn’t separate school aid from teacher evaluations.

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