Fred LeBrun of the Albany Times-Union says the battle over Cuomo’s teacher evaluation plan is not over yet. What the Regents adopted last week was an extension of emergency regulations, and there is still a 30-day period of public comment. In fact, they can’t be made final until the November meeting. In the meanwhile, parents and educators can keep up the pressure and keep planning for the biggest opt out in American history next spring. Suppose they give a test and no one takes it?

LeBrun writes:

There was a simple if potent resolution on the agenda of the state Board of Regents meeting last week calling for final passage of the onerous new teacher evaluation system Gov. Cuomo rammed through the Legislature earlier in the year. 

A vote was taken of the 16 Regents, and it was widely reported in the media that they had done their duty and given, if reluctantly and after much debate, final approval as the law required them to do by a vote of 10 to 6.

In fact, that wasn’t the case at all. They did their duty alright, but it wasn’t to give final approval.

What the Regents voted to do instead was quite clever, a lovely little avoidance procedure.

They proposed three new amendments to the emergency regulations they had passed back in June drafted by the state Education Department as dictated by the law. These new amendments of themselves offer some small relief for teachers and schools — a brighter shade of lipstick — but their real value is elsewhere.

What the Regents actually approved was an extension of the emergency regulations triggered by the proposed new amendments, that restarts a 30-day public comment period. Emergency regs have a shelf life of 90 days.

Because the comment period would extend beyond the date for the next monthly Regents meeting, a vote isn’t possible on the new emergency regs to make them final until the November meeting.

So what, you ask? Well this: what the Regents managed to do is find just enough wiggle room in a tightly scripted law to kick the can down the road and basically approve nothing at all. At least, not yet.

Nothing stops them during the November meeting from introducing another amendment or two, and resetting the clock again.

Before you know it, the Legislature is back in session where the real relief must come, as the Regents, parents and educators know full well.

The only permanent fix for a bad law is to change it.

The 10-6 vote, incidentally, reflects just how frustrated the Regents are, and perhaps reflects as well as the internal split on just how radical a change is needed to the law. Six refused to endorse a bad law even by extending emergency regulations.

The majority subscribed to the view that lousy law though it is, there was a risk to federal aid and a vulnerability to litigation by failing to approve interim regs. So Cuomo’s signature teacher evaluation law remains in limbo and still fluid.

All this buys time for those who seek major revisions in the teacher evaluation law, and joined at the hip, the state’s reliance on high stakes standardized tests.

High among those eager for change are the Regents themselves, who are becoming strident about reasserting their legal role as the proper policy makers for education in the state. A role that has been usurped by the governor.

The Regents have certainly gotten an earful from educators in the field and get it that the system is beyond broken; it’s in shambles. It needs a complete overhaul and not just cosmetic change.