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After pushing strict deadline for eval changes, Cuomo says extension ‘reasonable’

Governor Andrew Cuomo in April.
Governor Andrew Cuomo in April.
Geoff Decker

Just weeks after signing into law a tight deadline for school districts to overhaul their new teacher evaluation systems, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said giving them more time “sounds totally reasonable.”

It was less than four weeks ago that Cuomo and a reluctant legislature passed the new evaluation law, which will require an increased emphasis on state test scores and have outside educators conduct classroom observations. To make sure the shift happened quickly, Cuomo relied on a tactic he employed in 2012: Districts have until a certain date — Nov. 15, in this case — to roll out the changes or forfeit a state funding increase.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who has been looking for opportunities to allow schools and districts flexibility around the new evaluation system all month, has said she wants to give more time to “districts facing hardship,” a move that would delay Cuomo’s changes by nearly a year for some qualifying districts. The State Education Department would define what “hardship” means and how districts could apply for the waivers, Tisch said, a set-up Cuomo endorsed Monday.

“They’ve said that one of the regulations will allow a hardship exemption, which sounds totally reasonable,” Cuomo said. “You have to see the regulations, but as long as it’s the exception and not the rule, I can understand that.”

That sets up the potential for additional conflict as state education officials begin to craft the “hardship” regulations. Cuomo said he wants to limit that provision to a small number of districts.

Chancellor Carmen Fariña said last week that New York City could be among the districts that seeks an exemption. The funding increase would mean close to $400 million for New York City schools, or an average of $378 per student.

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