Looks like State Education Commissioner John King wasn’t kidding.
Yesterday, the Associated Press was informed by an anonymous Cuomo administration official that, in his 30-day budget amendments coming up this week, the governor will position Albany to be the central arbiter of a still-not-disclosed statewide teacher evaluations deal; one that will garner millions of Race to the Top funds for New York. After a threat from Mr. Cuomo a few weeks ago, this is the official announcement that, yes, things have gotten that bad.
But this will only happen if the City and its teachers can reach a deal by the newly set deadline, September 17th.
This transfer of power away from the local municipalities is a direct result of the inability of New York City, along with a few other school districts, to get their act together on the controversial subject. The core of the 2010 law passed by state lawmakers — to outsource responsibility to local municipalities on coming to an accountability agreement — broke down late last month when Mayor Bloomberg’s Department of Education walked out of negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers.
And, as we know, the teachers union has had a rough past dealing with City Hall wrested with mayoral control over educational policy. So we can’t blame them for losing $250 million in state aid, leading to a free fall in the Mayor’s budget that will result in the dismissal of 700 teachers, right?
After the failure in January, the deadline for the two feuding parties was first extended to March 1, which Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott told Mr. King was, realistically, not going to happen. Thus, the September 17 deadline was created in order to fend off the coming second wave of possible cuts from City Hall. More time, more opportunity to prevent an additional 1,800 layoffs.
Obviously, state intervention is not exactly favored by the DOE or UFT; the tantrum-filled parties would like a teacher evaluation system that works in their interest, not in Albany’s interest. Even though President Michael Mulgrew has said that he prefers a step-in from upstate than to lose more money. But, honestly, after losing $250 million for our children, should we even care what’s in the interest of these two parties anymore?
Alas, here’s the good news: with Albany now automatically taking the reigns if the City messes up yet again, our schools will not lose any more money because of this stupid, stupid situation.
And, for this strung-out story, that is definitely the good news we wanted to hear.