During a hastily convened press conference about the collapse of teacher evaluation talks, Mayor Mike Bloomberg rejected the teachers union’s account that he had “torpedoed” a deal.
It was the union’s insertion of new demands at the last moment, including that the evaluation system would expire in 2015, that made an agreement impossible, Bloomberg said.
“If the agreement sunset in two years the whole thing would be a joke,” he said. “Nobody would ever be able to be removed. The law would be gone before the process could finish. It would essentially sabotage the entire agreement.”
The vast majority of evaluation plans — about 90 percent — that districts across the state have adopted are in effect only for this school year.
“Those deals are shams,” Bloomberg said when asked about them.
Flanked by Chancellor Dennis Walcott and two deputy chancellors who had headed negotiations, Bloomberg said the union also demanded additional arbitration for teachers who want to appeal their ratings and a change to the way evaluations are scored “in a way that would have ensured that fewer teachers were rated ineffective.”
Bloomberg said the latest demands undermined an agreement that was close to complete. “There was an agreement to be had here. We were actually very close,” he said. “But unfortunately, every time we approached a deal in recent days, the UFT moved the finish line back.”
Department of Education officials said the call for a 2015 sunset came around 12:30 a.m. today, and talks finished at about 3:30 a.m. without a deal in place. UFT President Michael Mulgrew had said department and union negotiators had agreed on a deal overnight but Bloomberg rejected it this morning.
Without an evaluation system in place, the city is set to lose $250 million in state aid, per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate. Bloomberg said today that “it’s much too early to tell” whether the loss would require teacher layoffs, but he said the Department of Education would bear the brunt of budget cuts.
“I’m always the eternal optimistic but right now things look bleak,” Walcott said.