Group sets cost of teacher fight at $1.7B

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – As some local school districts are nearing agreements with their unions to create tougher evaluations for teachers and principals, an interest group said failure to enact the new evaluations will cost schools $1.7 billion statewide.

The New York Campaign for Achievement Now on Tuesday released its analysis, reporting that failure to enact the evaluations pushed by the Obama administration and Gov. Andrew Cuomo jeopardizes state and federal aid over two years. The group, which has ties to the charter school movement, says $1 billion in state and federal aid to school performance would be lost, besides the $700 million already publicly threatened.

“At the same time that New York public schools are failing thousands of our students in their preparation for college or careers, we bestow the vast majority of our teachers with positive job evaluations,” the report stated.

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. also calculates the potential loss at more than $1 billion.

In the state’s major cities, the report shows New York City schools would lose $592 million in total aid over the next two years; Buffalo would lose almost $51 million; Rochester would lose $48 million; Syracuse would lose $43 million; Yonkers would lose $16 million and Albany would lose over $4 million.

Meanwhile, the New York State United Teachers union reported Tuesday that local chapters are reaching agreements with districts to enact new evaluation methods.

At stake is the $700 million the state won a year ago in the federal Race to the Top competition. To qualify for the reform program grants, the Legislature passed an evaluation system for teachers and principals that included student performance as a measure.

But requiring scores on tests – which were never designed to reflect teachers’ effectiveness – has proven a harder sell when school districts try to negotiate changes with their local unions.

The New York State United Teachers union and the State Education Department recently reported negotiations were progressing, shortly after King suspended some school aid and Cuomo threatened to pull back millions more.

Total state school aid is about $21 billion a year.


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