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Comments of the week: Readers dissect a dead evaluation deal

The long weekend just wasn’t enough time for readers to cool off after last week’s surprising news that a long-awaited teacher evaluation deal had failed. After months and months of negotiations, the two sides walked away from the negotiating table without a system to submit to the state, forgoing $240 million in state aid in the process.

So there was plenty to talk about at the end of last week and as this one began. Many, including Commissioner John King, sided with the UFT’s account of how talks broke down. A review of the hundreds of comments that poured in on posts about the breakdown in negotiations suggested a lot of our readers agreed.

But others weren’t so fast to give the union a pass.

“The real debate,” Night Rider wrote, “surrounds the fact that there is way too much secret dealings going on and the rank and file are not having a chance to have a say in these negotiations. Heck, even if the UFT and the DOE came up with a last minute deal on the evaluations last week, the Delegate Assembly would have had mere minutes to look at the proposal.”

Night Rider also questioned if King had the authority to follow through with his threat to withhold more money if the city doesn’t get a deal done soon:

The billion dollar question is what is going to happen when King/Cuomo start to hold tons of federal Title 1 monies from NYC on Feb 15th. Will the UFT cave on this? I, and countless others think it is just a ploy to get a deal out of us. However, it is NOT A DEADLINE. There is no gun to the head of the UFT or any law in place that says a deal must be signed by Feb 15th. My guess is that there will be a lawsuit by some party to allow the release of the Title 1 monies to NYC.

The failure of the state’s largest city to meet the deadline, a gambit dreamt up by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, could have left him governor politically vulnerable. David Bloomfield, Professor of Educational Leadership, Law, and Policy at the CUNY Grad Center and Brooklyn College, didn’t see it that way.

This is not a “black eye for Gov. Andrew Cuomo” (yesterday’s GS story). He created a framework for district/union cooperation, winning friends in the accountability and progressive communities — a neat piece of political footwork. Failure to agree in NYC was entirely predictable based on the necessity of unlikely UFT/Bloomberg compromise but Cuomo comes out threading the needle as a champion of test-based teacher evaluations, district discretion, and collective bargaining.

One commenter, “Principal” was already fretting about what the $240 million cut could mean for schools:

I’m demoralized as this will likely mean the loss of our Title I school’s extended day program, funded by federal grants that will now be lost because of failure to strike a deal. That grant also funds critical professional development. Anything would be better than the U/S system, which makes baseline competence (the standard an S) the highest bar formally expected or recognized.

Another story that’s had legs is the bus drivers strike, which completed its seventh day today. To mitigate the strike’s impact on low-income special education students, the Department of Education is fronting cab money for students who can show proof that they qualify for free or reduced lunch at school. If only it were that simple, said “Make it stop“.

Some families do not fill out lunch forms. Those who do not have green cards or who work off the books don’t feel comfortable. Many “at risk” students are being hurt by this strike. GS please tell this story. And ask the DoE if the risks to these students’ ed outcomes is worth it.

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