Cuomo’s Teacher-Evaluation Bill Approved by New York Legislature

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s bill that would limit disclosure of teacher evaluations to parents passed the New York Legislature today, the last day of the session.

The measure, introduced by Cuomo minutes before a midnight deadline June 18, won approval after Senate Republicans, who control the chamber, backed it. It has the support of New York State United Teachers, the largest educators union, and is opposed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wants wider evaluation disclosures.

“It struck a balance between parents’ right to know and some confidentiality,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican.

Cuomo, lawmakers and the teachers’ union struck a deal this year on setting up an evaluation system that would make the ratings public. School districts must implement the system by January or risk losing a share of $800 million in state funds. Cuomo’s proposal would release scores without identifying individuals, while supplying full details to parents on those who instruct their children.

The bill allows parents to get the information in any manner, including by phone or in person, from the principal. Bloomberg has said a required interaction with administrators may be difficult for busy parents.

Two Working Parents

“I don’t know about the rest of the state, but in New York City we have an awful lot of kids whose both parents work,” Bloomberg said at a press conference yesterday in the Bronx. “It would be a very difficult thing to go the principal’s office.”

Cuomo, a 54-year-old Democrat, backed away from his measure June 19, saying there was no rush to pass it in the legislative session that ends today because no evaluations would be available for disclosure for at least a year.

“Why do tomorrow what you can do today?” Skelos said. “This is part of a two-year process we’ve had up here, early budgets, cutting spending, a lot of accomplishments and this a great result.”

Since taking office 18 months ago, Cuomo has pushed two on-time budgets through the Legislature, the first time consecutive spending plans were passed before the deadline since 2006. He’s also cut spending to close combined budget deficits of more than $12 billion. The teacher-evaluation deal is the latest in a series of victories that includes a same-sex marriage law and changes to the state pension plan.

Cherry on Cake

“This bill is the metaphorical cherry on the cake to the end of what I believe is one of the most successful and broad-ranging legislative sessions in modern political history,” Cuomo said in an e-mailed statement. “From transformative economic reforms to historic social progress, this session was a magnificent accomplishment for the people of New York state.”

This week, Cuomo declared dead a measure to decriminalize the public display of 25 grams or less of marijuana. He supported the bill at the urging of New York City lawmakers and civil libertarians. He couldn’t get Senate Republicans to agree.

“We’re going to end this session with a bang, not a bong,” Skelos said.

New York’s mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

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