Turning a Crisis Into An Opportunity: Will Bloomberg and/or Cuomo Be Able to Leverage Crisis to Policy?

An art of politics is to create situations that force decisions; a ticking clock with a pending catastrophe. Unless Congress raises the federal debt limit the nation will not be able to meet their fiscal obligations: social security and Medicare payments will cease. Who will be wounded? The President, who refused to compromise or the Congress who forced the crisis? Or, will both sides negotiate a settlement?

New Jersey Senator Menendez refuses to sign a “blue slip” required to appoint an Obama appellate judge (whose significant other subpoenaed Menendez years earlier). Will the Obama administration find some perk to convince Menendez to relent? Or, will the press trash him?

Rahm Emmanuel is famous for proffering, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

Mayor Bloomberg, with forethought, caused a crisis. After five months of negotiations he refused to agree upon a method to evaluate teachers, the Commissioner froze $58 million and the Mayor blasted the union in his State of the City address  and threatened a number of policy issues anathema to the union.

The union can “just say no.” Expired contracts remain in effect until a successor contract is negotiated.

The Mayor’s policies require negotiating with the union or are vulnerable to legal challenges. Yes, the Post, the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal will support the Mayor and sharply criticize the union. For the union membership the Mayor is the devil incarnate.

A lame duck Mayor lays out sweeping changes in his 11th and next to the last State of the City message. His tenure is running out and his bold initiatives, while popular with the reformers – are dead on arrival.

The Governor, in his State of the State address  criticizes the failure of the Regents and the unions to resolve their dispute over the state teacher-principal evaluation plan. He announces a Commission to review the plan, and duels with Assembly Speaker Silver.

On Tuesday the Governor will announce his 12-13 budget. The Regent/State Education Department has a number of specific requests: fund the January Regents, ELA exams in grade 9 and 10, more test security measures, reinstate middle school science and math tests. Will the Governor honor the requests of the Regents, deny the requests, or both deny the requests and make deeper cuts?

Does the Governor want to peel away part of the State Education Department and move them to the Office of the Secretary of State: the professions and cultural education?

Will the Governor utilize the teacher evaluation crisis to force a settlement on the unions, or, to increase his power by weakening the Regents?

What appeared like a stunning achievement in the spring of 2010, the Race to the Top victory, a shining example of collaboration has fallen apart.

The hundreds of thousands of teacher voters and their support in a range of other gubernatorial initiatives versus an increasingly discredited Commissioner.

We wait for the budget with anticipation.

Has Andrew Cuomo learned from Rahm Emmanuel?


4 responses to “Turning a Crisis Into An Opportunity: Will Bloomberg and/or Cuomo Be Able to Leverage Crisis to Policy?

  1. The public gets what’s wrong with across-the- board increases. Outstanding teachers should be rewarded, incompetent teachers separated, and mediocre teachers supported, then honestly evaluated, and ultimately rewarded or separated. No one’s child can afford to be taught by incompetent, or even mediocre teachers.. Teachers understand this better than most.

    That the union persists on perpetuating a failed human resource model will invariably prove to be a losing strategy for its members in the long run.


  2. Eric:

    Besides the fact you were part of the problem and not part of a solution during your years at DOE, let me remind you that teacher due process rights are the most important issue when it comes to teachers.

    Having a fair teacher evaluation system is the most important item on any agenda. However, the DOE wants to allow the Principal’s opinion to be the final word. That is unacceptable to all teachers, we have all known “great teachers” who were targeted be vindictive and bad principals and were unfairly sent to the “rubber rooms”. In fact, weren’t you a deputy Chancellor when the “rubber room” population exploded to 800+? Of those teachers sent there only 10% were terminated by the independent Arbitrator.

    Let’s see the DOE claimed that 800 teachers should be terminated but only 80 were. The reason was that the charges against these teachers were grossly exaggerated, frivolous, or bogus.. If the union is to let the DOE decide the issue, you can expect a 0.05% teacher success rate, equal to the “U” rating appeal (See the Leo Casey Edwize article).. Even the State Principals union has objected to the teacher evaluation system.

    Maybe you should return to the classroom and experience the destructive policies that you and your education reform friends have implemented with no significant student academic achievement.



  3. First, thank you Ed for your reassurance.
    Second, thank you Chaz for your fire.
    Between the two of you there is hope for us all.
    I have to say that one billion dollars seems to be an awful lot of money for a few paperwork changes. As for the salary bump, hey, I think it’s great if someone can make a little more money. But, really now, when’s the last time you or your colleagues got a good letter to the file. What makes anyone think that they would get 20,000 bucks?


  4. Teachers who are long term supporters or friends with the Administration will be scheduled to teach classrooms full of high functioning children with involved parents. They will earn the bonus. The other two thirds of us will be held responsible for the everyday issues that effect our students ability to excell.


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