After being criticized for fudging union support for its first-round Race to the Top application, New York State education officials are proceeding cautiously to make sure that they’re not embarrassed again.
In order to be eligible for any grant funds that the state might win, school districts, charter schools and unions are required to submit a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to participate in programs proposed by the state’s application. This round’s deadline to sign onto the application is 5 p.m. tomorrow.
In the first round, the MOU listed individual tenets of the state’s Race to the Top plan and allowed districts to choose a la carte which provisions they supported. The teachers union agreed only to provisions that would not require a change to its contract. Though the state claimed to have the full support of the city union, Race to the Top judges said that the qualified agreement would hurt the state’s ability to enact its plan. (You can read more about the state’s failed first-round application here.)
This round’s MOU is an all-or-nothing deal — districts, schools and unions must agree to everything in the state’s plan or not sign on at all. That won’t be a problem if union and city negotiators hash out a deal tonight to raise the charter cap and smooth the way for full passage of the teacher evaluation deal struck by the state and union earlier this month.
But if a deal falls apart, the city and union will be forced to choose whether to sign onto the application anyway. In the first round, the city unsuccessfully tried to use its MOU signature as a bargaining chip to pressure legislators into lifting the charter school cap.
A copy of the current MOU, as well as the state’s “Frequently Asked Questions” document about it, is below the jump: