King (Cuomo) Whacks the Mayor: Approve the Teacher Evaluation Plan or Lose 1 Billion!!

State Commissioner of Education John King has a sense of humor – he set February 14th – Valentine’s Day as the final date for a submission of a teacher plan.

In New York State, proudly, a Marriage Equality State we could find the mayor and the union president canoodling in the recesses of the Capitol on Valentine’s Day – I doubt it.

On Wednesday night, according to the union, and the commissioner, it appeared that both sides had come to an agreement. By the next day, January 17th the mayor turned down the plan negotiated by his appointee as chancellor, Dennis Walcott.

The mayor cited the length of the plan – it sunsets on 6/30/15 – as the primary reason for his opposition, yet 90% of the approved plans contain a sunset clause and Commissioner King chipped at the mayor’s version,

In his remarks to reporters, King seconded the union’s version of events — that the city had actually intended to sign off on and submit a short-term plan.

“That comment from the mayor was from my perspective a new issue that was raised after they walked away from the table,” King said.
“My understanding, as of yesterday morning, was the submission we would receive officially from them when they completed the agreement was going to cover two years,” King added.

The union also insisted that the department was not prepared to implement the plan and demanded that any plan clearly enunciate a training program for principals as well as the specifics of implementation from Tweed to the schools to the classrooms; the Commissioner once again seconded the union,

“Throughout these negotiations what became clear is that principals have not received the training necessary to implement the evaluation system,” King said.

He said that the new Feb. 14 deadline requires that the city submit a plan that shows it is prepared to implement large portions of an evaluation system. The plan would have to include agreements on a teacher observation rubric and a plan to train staff to use the new system, among other things, he said.

See King letter here.

The Commissioner threatens the loss of 1 billion – that’s a pile of cash, Chief Academic Officer Suransky, he probably lost the coin toss, fell on his sword,

“We’re not going to just do it for show,” Polakow-Suransky said of an evaluation system. “We’re not just going to do it for money. We’re going to do it right. Until we get a deal that doesn’t undermine us and take us backward, we’re not going to do it.

A few days from now, if it hasn’t happened already Joe Percoco, the governor’s political operative,will call Howard Wolfson, his counterpart at the side of the mayor.

To describe Percoco as “pugnacious” is probably understatement.

Secretary: “Mr. Wolfson, Mr. Percoco is on the phone.”

Wolfson: “Crap, OK, put him through – Joe – good morning – what can I do for you?”

Percoco: “What can I do for you? You can tell the mayor if he wants to piss on the Andrew we will drown him in a mountain of shit.”

Wolfson: “Joe – calm down – I guess you’re talking about the teacher evaluation plan.”

Percoco: “Calm down – I am calm – this is the governor’s plan – we got Mulgrew to accept the plan – it’s OK with King, it’s OK with Tisch – and the mayor pisses on it – pisses on the governor – get this done and get it done now.”

Wolfson: “Joe – the mayor has problems with the plan (interrupted)

Percoco: “Don’t shit me – the mayor couldn’t care less – he has a problem with Mulgrew. Get this done and get it done now – you need cover – we’ll send mediator – just get it done.”

A few weeks from now, without any fanfare the completed plan will find itself to the corridors of the State Education Department and will quickly be approved.

Mulgrew will be careful not to gloat and Bloomberg will move on to reducing global warming and removing illegal guns from the streets.

In schools and classrooms not much will change. Teachers and principals will discuss student work: what constitutes a portfolio, designing rubrics, understanding Danielson, the daily work that should have been going on each and every day.

At the January 17th Delegate Assembly Mulgrew emphasized to the delegates that the plan measures student progress, Mulgrew, again and again, told the teachers, “the progress belongs to you – the principal can’t take it away.”

Will the teacher evaluation plan both rid the system of ineffective teachers and result in more school-based discussion about the art of teaching?

Check back in two or three years.


6 responses to “King (Cuomo) Whacks the Mayor: Approve the Teacher Evaluation Plan or Lose 1 Billion!!

  1. If there ever was any doubt that Bloomberg is anti teacher and anti union, just look at his pre-occupation with the need to be able to fire teachers in a quik and expeditious fashion, so much so, that he chucks everything down the drain over a two year sunset clause. He does this in spite of the fact that throughout NYS his Mayoral peers have found this clause a non issue. Probably because they feel that Teachjers need to be supported not fired! He has cost this city and its children 250 mil and counting because of his personal vendetta with Mulgrew and unions in general. He is also putting children’s health abd safety in the rear view mirror because of his “new war” with the school bus drivers…I wonder how Ms Quinn ( a Bloomberg ally) views these two issues.


  2. Peter:

    Great article but it is a piece of fiction. The Mayor’s hatred for teachers is such that he will not give in. Instead, I predict that he will go after the Governor that he is hurting the children by withholding resources to the schools and make an issue of Andrew Cuomo’s claim that he is the student advocate.


  3. I’m so glad I read your article today. I learned something NEW! Sometimes politics and personality trumps policies and pupils. How enlightening! However, when all is said and done and an agreement emerges then the real test of the plan will emerge. Principals and teachers have to be trained TOGETHER so as to have the same definitions, procedures, and criteria. Will the time, money, and effort be put into the training so that our students will truly be the beneficiaries?.


  4. In response to Paul Arden’s post, I actually think that the training of principals and teachers together will not be the problem. During last Thursday’s Delegate Assembly, UFT President Michael Mulgrew received a note from CSA President Ernest Logan saying that the administrators’ union stood with the UFT in favor of the teacher evaluation system that had just been hammered out with the DOE. I am so glad that the truth has come out that negotiations had in fact succeeded in producing an agreement amenable to all three parties. The blame sits squarely on Mayor Bloomberg’s shoulders for losing state aid and federal grant money for the New York City schools. His argument that a two-year sunset clause would make firing bad teachers impossible is disingenuous. He was the one who was not in favor of adding more arbitrators to hear dismissal appeals cases. Certainly doing so would clear the backlog and speed the process so that those teachers would either be cleared or let go, but not suffer for months and years in limbo. I suspect that his real fear is that there are not enough irredeemably incompetent teachers to justify his attacks on the union.


  5. when mayor bloomberg finishes his current term,no matter the reality of the dept of education,he will be the even more prosperous than when he became mayor by default of the democratic party. however, you never know, he may want to modify term limits again. he abhors special interests(mostly uft and its popular leader). his special interest was himself and joel klein. poor joel, he is now earning millions.a good manager motivates his workers to play as a team. klein disrepected teachers and stifiled any chance of espirit de corps. with the help of mayor mike,joel klein , in the history of the last 50 years in nyc city schools, hands down was the worst chancelor in our time. mr. walcott, shame on you, you are not a joel klein.


  6. Clearly this is not about the 2 year sunset clause! Every other county in NY had or has a1 year clause! The training of principals and teachers side by side is a must. The rolling out of Danielson by the UFT with both parties getting trained together was evidence of such. It’s how it should be done!
    Yes, Bloomy abhors special interest….but UFT leadership got this one right! The intetest of students and teachers go together. Let’s see what the DOE has in store for February 15th deadline?


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