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Bloomberg: Eval plan ‘a huge rebuff to the UFT’s obstructionism’

The teacher evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on New York City on Saturday was a bargain for the city, Mayor Bloomberg said today.

Late Saturday, Bloomberg issued a glowing statement about the evaluation plan, which he said had delivered almost everything the city had requested. Today, speaking to reporters at the Celebrate Israel Parade, he repeated the praise and pointed out that the city had not conceded anything to the United Federation of Teachers to get the evaluation system.

“New York City now has the strongest teacher evaluation system in the state, bar none, and we didn’t have to give up anything in contract negotiations to get it,” he said. “That is almost unprecedented. … If I said we were going to have this when I came into office 11 and a half years ago, you probably would have started thinking about laughing.”

The system could end up being revised next year when a new mayor takes office and must negotiate a new contract with the UFT. Union president Michael Mulgrew said on Saturday that he would ask to have the system changed if the rollout over the next several months is not satisfactory.

The complete text of Bloomberg’s comments, as conveyed by City Hall, is below.

Let me just start out by saying yesterday, our State Education Commissioner John King announced a new teacher evaluation system for City schools. This really was a historic chance to help our students and improve our schools by giving our teachers the support that they need to grow professionally, and by giving our principals who manage the schools the tools they need to remove teachers who – after getting additional support – just don’t seem to be able to measure up. A good teacher, as you know, in front of the classroom makes all the difference in the world. And we know this from our own experiences, and the best studies have always backed us up. That’s why the Obama Administration has put such an emphasis on teacher evaluations. Unfortunately, the UFT has fought a rigorous evaluation system nearly every step of the way, and they’ve done it through the years. Yesterday, Commissioner John King issued a decision that was a huge rebuff to the UFT’s obstructionism and a great victory for our students. Commissioner King sided with the children on nearly every major point of disagreement that we had with the UFT’s leadership. That includes creating an effective framework for principals to observe teachers in the classroom, empower principals to have the final say on key student achievement metrics, and creating a streamlined appeals process for teachers who are rated as not effective. In fact, the model that Commissioner King adopted closely resembles the one we’ve put in place on a pilot basis at 200 of our schools. It was also crucial that Commissioner King rejected the UFT’s demand for a sunset provision. That demand was a major reason why the State had to step in and settle the issue. And the only thing the UFT achieved by pushing it was costing our schools hundreds of millions of dollars. And that’s hundreds of millions of dollars that we could have used to have more teachers or pay our teachers better. This decision by the State just shows how wrong the UFT and its management was in insisting on a sunset provision, and how right the Department of Education was not to cave in to their demands. New York City now has the strongest teacher evaluation system in the State, bar none, and we didn’t have to give up anything in contract negotiations to get it. That is almost unprecedented. So it’s great news for our students and our schools. And I will say, if I said we were going to have this when I came into office 11 and a half years ago, you probably would have started thinking about laughing. Nobody, nobody thought we could remotely get here and yet here we are. And it’s just wonderful for our kids. It gives New York confidence that our schools will be able to give the kids the education they will need going forward. When I came into office back then it was next to impossible to remove bad teachers from the classroom. We didn’t even have measures in place to determine who was succeeding and who wasn’t. And I’m proud to say that now we will, and we will in no small measure because we have consistently fought for reform, even in the face of powerful and entrenched opposition. And even in the face of monies that were dangled in front of us to make us yield, but it was unattractive for our students. We’re not going to do that and we didn’t have to. The evaluation system that Commissioner King detailed yesterday, while it’s not everything that we wanted, will help us build on this work, and the beneficiaries will be kids, their families, and our city’s future. This really is a landmark achievement on behalf of our students, and it’s wonderful. And I want to thank Commissioner King, as well as Commissioner Walcott and his team with the Department of Education for their hard work on this issue.