February 4, 2012

Governor wants new teacher-evaluation system

Not everyone happy with idea


PLATTSBURGH — One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget initiatives is to implement a required teacher-evaluation program for public schools.

The governor has warned that if the State Education Department and the school employee unions can't agree on an evaluation system by Feb. 16, he will submit his own plan to the State Legislature.

Schools will then have one year to implement his plan or else forfeit a chance to receive an additional 4 percent in state funding.

"Education has become more about business than about students," Cuomo said while in Plattsburgh.

"We need to focus on student achievement, rather than the industry, as a measure of success."

Cuomo said New York spends the most money per student in the nation, yet the state ranks only 38th in graduation rates.

He said education in New York has become a $20 billion business whose lobbyists are way too powerful. He reiterated his pledge to become a lobbyist for all students.

"I am taking on a second job."

But not everyone was smiling at the thought of adding teacher evaluations.

Clinton County Legislator Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac), a retired educator, said teachers feel the evaluation system is being forced down their throats.

"You can't throw teachers under the bus by saying there are no lobbyists for students," Butler said. "Every teacher I know or every administrator I know is a lobbyist for students, and they want them all to do well."

Butler's colleague Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain), also a retired educator, said each school district should be able to come up with its own evaluation system.

"It works better if you develop it yourself," McManus said.

"When you come up with a plan yourself, you buy into it more."

Email Joe LoTemplio at: