It is understandable that Governor Cuomo has a grudge against teachers: they didn’t endorse him in last fall’s campaign. So, naturally, he wants to destroy the teaching profession in his state by imposing a burdensome, invalid teacher evaluation system, written by his staff to inflict maximum pain on every teacher.


If he acted like an angry bully, the Legislature acted like fools.


Why did the Legislature go along? Many legislators said they voted reluctantly and “with a heavy heart.” Others made statements showing they didn’t really know what they voted for. The backlash has been fierce from parents and teachers.


In this article, principal Carol Burris shows how thoughtless and mean-spirited this legislation is.


She writes:


“The New York State legislature celebrated the Eve of April Fools by making a bad teacher evaluation system even worse. With the exception of a few principled members, the rest of the Senate and Assembly fell in line, without care or concern for the consequences their “reform” would bring. More remarkably, by the time debate was done, it was obvious that many legislators had no understanding of what they were voting into law.”


Testing will count for 50%. Principals will be sent to evaluate other principals’ staff.


“Of one thing you can be certain. The NYSED created growth-score and measures will produce a bell-curve. This will produce the “differentiation” that the chancellor and governor crave. You can also bet these scores will not be a valid or reliable measure of teacher performance. After all, that is the hallmark of APPR.


“The other half of the evaluation will be the result of two required and one optional observation. One required observation must be done by a teacher’s administrator or principal, and the other by an “independent” evaluator from outside the building. When school officials complained that using outside observers was an unfunded mandate, the glib reply was just swap administrators among schools.


“Let’s think about that plan. For districts like mine with one high school, swapping administrators might mean that the elementary principal would observe our IB Physics teacher and I would watch a kindergarten class. Without any knowledge of the curriculum, students, and the teacher, we would do a high-stakes observation.


“As we principals go on the road to observe teachers in other schools, we would leave our students and teachers without leadership if a crisis were to occur. This would be especially difficult in some areas of rural New York, where schools are far apart. With observations an hour in length, pre- and post-observation conferences and travel time, schools would be without their principals for days given the number of observations we are now required to do. Apparently the governor is not worried. When parents call and I am observing a teacher across town, I will tell my assistant to forward the call to him.”

The legislators should not make excuses. They should be ashamed of themselves and repeal this punitive and unworkable plan.

Parents are right to be outraged. This is another reason to opt out.

Who will want to teach in Néw York?