Bloomberg’s Union Fight Over Teacher Evaluations


The Hozziner is gettin’ a little feisty.

Last Saturday, The Voice reported on the teacher evaluation argument that was brewing in Albany between the unions and Bloomberg over whether or not to release the information to parents or the public. The extremes were set in stone: the unions favored parental control of information while Bloomberg advocated for full disclosure to the public of what was going on inside the classroom.

Well, on Thursday, the State Legislature passed a deal steamrolled by Governor Cuomo that hit a middle ground between those two viewpoints by only partially releasing the information to the public.

But the public still doesn’t know much: the scores would not be attached to specific individuals’ names, thus making them kind of useless. For parents, the evaluations will be for that year’s teachers, which, in regards to planning, will not really matter. And, if schools refuse to set up an evaluation system in accordance with the proposal by January, they risk losing $800 billion in state funds. How’s that for a bureaucratic threat?

The only ways parents can obtain information about their children’s teachers in the new bill is by either calling or meeting the principal or school official in person – a part of the bill that has been marked as a victory for the teacher unions. But Bloomberg is not striking it down as a defeat just yet.

In a Bronx press conference yesterday, Bloomberg started firing shots at his long-standing enemy, the United Federation of Teachers, in an argument that really doesn’t deserve such tension.

“The union is not there to help our students. Don’t ever think that. The union is there for its members to protect them. When they’re sex offenders, they defend them… They use the students as ploys,” the Hozziner remarked. Ouch.
Michael Mulgrew, the President of the union, fought fire with half-ass fire: “Sometimes, even billionaires don’t get their way. The mayor’s statement is a transparent attempt to divert attention  from the fact that his attempts to villify teachers have been frustrated by the governor and his Legislature.”
Let’s all remember before moving forward: this is about teacher evaluations, plain and simple.
Why the harsh tone? According to Bloomberg, the 1.1 million parents who have students in the City’s public school system have absolutely no time to call in or visit the principal during school hours. So, in order to combat this, he wants to take matters into his own hands: rather than having the parents call the schools, Bloomberg is demanding that the schools call every parent about their children’s teachers – all 1.1 million of them.
But he’d have to get that approved by the State; a measure that could take years to pass, especially with the frail relationship already established between the administration and Bloomberg. And he only has a year, 5 months and 8 days left to get it done.