Last spring, the Néw York legislature passed a budget that included a harsh and punitive teacher evaluation plan. This was done at Governor Cuomo’s insistence because he was angry that the state teachers’ union did not support his re-election in 2014. There were no hearings, discussions, or debates on the governor’s plan. It was passed because he wanted it.
The following comment was sent by Lisa Eggert, a specialist in education law who lives in Néw York. She wrote in response to this post.
“Thank you Diane for posting this! And here’s more to say about whether “this is the law”–
“1. The law (Education Transformation Act) required that the Regents pass rules on the evaluation plan by June 30, 2015, which they did, so they will not be in violation by voting no. The legislature surely realized that the tight time constraint meant that only temporary 90-day emergency rules could be passed, and it did not require a subsequent rule to be passed when the emergency one expires.
“2. It’s the job of the Regents and Ed Dept to set the plan’s cut scores that determine who is effective and who’s not. The plan of now sets an effective rating at a whopping 75% of students meeting targets. The School Administrators Assn. suggests 55%. What science or research supports 75%?
“3. The law actually requires that the public be told all the specifics regarding research and studies on which the plan is based, when the Ed Dept publishes a Notice of Rulemaking (the Notice is also required by law). But when the Ed Dept published the Notice, it gave a non responsive answer, identifying no study or research and just acknowledging that it had to work with experts. This is a legal violation of NY’s State Administrative Procedure Act, which protects the public’s right to have input into rules that have the force of law.
“4. The law is also being violated because the Admin Pro Act requires that any member of the public who asks be allowed access to any underlying studies. The Notice says to contact Kirti Goswami at the Ed Dept. I’ve emailed and spoken with her several times to find out how to access any underlying studies supporting the plan or, alternatively, to confirm that in fact no studies or research were relied on in creating the plan. She has been unable to provide anything or confirm anything, all in violation of the Admin Pro Act. (It feels like an awful run-around.)
“5. So, in talking to the Regents, feel free to point out that yes, the law is being broken –the law that protects the public’s right to understand and assess proposed rules and give input. I don’t mean to sound hoaky but this is the law that protects the democratic process, giving the public a voice when unelected officials, like the Commissioner Elia and the Regents, make rules. The Regents need to stand up for these laws that protect our basic rights.
“6. And also, from the state’s inability to point to any underlying science, it strongly appears that these rules, including the harsh cut scores, are entirely unfounded. They should be voted down so that a researched-based plancan be created by experts.”