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No deal on teacher evals: UFT blames Bloomberg, not DOE

Just in from UFT President Michael Mulgrew: There won’t be a deal on teacher evaluations today, and it’s Mayor Bloomberg’s fault.

In a statement that the union president said was “painful to make,” Mulgrew said UFT and Department of Education negotiators had reached a deal overnight on how to structure and execute new teacher evaluations. But when they presented their agreement to Mayor Bloomberg this morning, Mulgrew said, the mayor rejected it.

“Despite the involvement of state officials we could not put it back together,” Mulgrew said.

Just hours ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed again to withhold state aid from districts that did not adopt new evaluations today. For the city, $250 million was on the line.

Bloomberg is holding a press conference in just a few minutes to tell his side of the story. But he has said repeatedly — as recently as yesterday — that he would only sign off on a deal that “really evaluates,” or shows that some teachers are low-performing. And last year, he turned down an opportunity to finalize a teacher evaluation plan in favor of a different strategy aimed at removing teachers faster than evaluations would allow.

Our analysis of the costs and benefits of reaching a deal to every party to the evaluation talks foreshadowed the outcome that Mulgrew says has happened. We wrote that Bloomberg had the least to lose by letting a deal die, and one major upside: He would get new ammunition to attack the UFT. We also wrote that the Department of Education officials, who have invested a lot in preparing the city for new evaluations that are now unlikely to be adopted for over a year, very well were more committed to reaching a deal than the mayor.

Insiders say Bloomberg was particularly aggrieved that department officials agreed to require that principals meet with teachers after observing them.

We’ll have more on this breaking story from Bloomberg’s press conference, and the UFT’s that is scheduled to follow. For now, here’s Mulgrew’s full statement:

I am sorry to announce that I have notified Governor Cuomo and other state officials that — despite long nights of negotiation and a willingness on the part of teachers to meet the DOE halfway – the intransigence of the Bloomberg administration on key issues has made it impossible to reach agreement on a new teacher evaluation system.

It is particularly painful to make this announcement because last night our negotiators had reached agreement – but Mayor Bloomberg blew the deal up in the early hours today, and despite the involvement of state officials we could not put it back together.

Thousands of parents have gotten a lesson this week, as the Mayor’s “my way or the highway” approach has left thousands of schoolchildren stranded at curbs across the city by the school bus strike. That same stubborn attitude on the Mayor’s part now means that our schools will suffer a loss of millions of dollars in state aid.

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