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After pushback, Regents scrap Common Core defense for low-rated teachers

ALBANY — Facing fierce opposition from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and indifference from the teachers unions, the state Board of Regents withdrew a short-lived plan to protect low-rated teachers from being fired as a result of new Common Core tests.

The Regents’ P-12 committee swiftly approved the regulation Monday morning as part of a package of 19 items that were passed in response to concerns over how statewide education reforms were rolling out in schools.

Shortly afterwards, Cuomo came out with a sharply worded statement accusing the Regents of trying to delay the state’s teacher evaluation system.

Some Regents said they found Cuomo’s criticism to be perplexing, but at the board’s general meeting this afternoon, Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar said the idea was being tabled until April. Bottar said the plan “raised a great deal of discussion regarding its implication and consequences from teachers, the Legislature and the Governor’s office.”

The new timing would defer the evaluation regulation until after the legislature and Cuomo negotiate a budget, potentially resolving teacher evaluation concerns in the process.

All of the other “adjustment options” in the Regents’ Common Core plan were approved.

The purpose of the proposed regulation was to “prevent unfair negative consequences to teachers and principals,” according to the regulatory language. It explicitly noted that issues with the Common Core implementation during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years could be used as evidence by teachers facing termination proceedings for why their students did not make progress.

New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi said the proposal was “nothing new” and noted that the line of defense could be used “with or without ‘permission’ from the State Education Department.”

But State Sen. John Flanagan said it had been significant that the Regents had specifically identified Common Core implementation as allowable evidence for low-rated teachers.

“Saying ‘Common Core’ in the actual regulation is a very strong and direct recommendation,” Flanagan said.