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Cuomo offers teacher evaluation bill with no compromises

James F Clay

Governor Andrew Cuomo is telling the legislature to "take it or leave it" over a new bill he’s released outlining how to make teacher evaluations public.

Cuomo says he introduced  legislation on the publication of teacher evaluations just before his own self-imposed deadline of midnight Monday in order to clarify his position on the issue.  He says it’s up to the Assembly and Senate whether they want to pass it, exactly as is, or not.

“That’s the bill, the bill is not going to change,” said Cuomo. “They act on it or they don’t. But there’s not going to be changes and discussions at this time.”

The governor softened his stance somewhat by saying that he believes there will be a chance to take up the issue later in the year. Most schools have not yet finished designing their teacher evaluations, and don’t have to finalize them until January of 2013.

“We have plenty of time,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo’s bill permits schools to publicly release the evaluation scores of all teachers, with no names attached. Parents can then request the score of their own children’s teachers.  

“No hurdles, no obstacles,” said Cuomo. “One hundred percent access for the parent.”

The governor says the release of teacher scores to parents of students in the class will not allow parents to teacher shop. And he says if a parent were to post their teacher’s scores on the Internet or social media, they would not be penalized.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, says his house will pass the bill.

“We believe it’s a good compromise,”  said Silver who called is a "good overall bill."

Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos could not offer a similar guarantee. He says his GOP members want to discuss the bill in a closed-door conference first.

“We’ve made no decision as to whether it’s come to the floor or not,” Skelos said. “We’re reviewing it.”

Senator Skelos is not ruling out  Senate passage of the governor’s bill by Thursday.

If no action is taken on teacher evaluations this week, then some test scores that might make up part of a teacher’s evaluation will be ready for release in the fall. Without a bill, those test scores, with the teacher’s name attached, will be subject to the Freedom of Information Law, and could be made public to everyone.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.