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April 6, 2014
State teachers union president defeated with UFT support
Karen Magee unseated Richard Iannuzzi, New York State United Teachers president since 2005, in an election seen by some as a power play by New York City’s union chief. Magee said she would not avoid tangling with the legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo over state education policy.
January 13, 2014
Tisch calls NYSUT's "no confidence" vote a political "sideshow"
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch today dismissed new criticism from the state teachers union as a "sideshow" more motivated by politics than a commitment to addressing challenges posed by education policies being implemented across the state.
April 15, 2013
King and Walcott take their Common Core message to church
State Education Commissioner John King took the stage at Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Queens on Sunday to tell parishioners about the new Common Core standards, on the eve of the first state tests tied to them. Speaking to the congregation at Greater Allen AME Cathedral's morning worship in Queens on Sunday, the state's top education official summoned Martin Luther King, Jr. to respond to detractors who say he's moving too fast on the Common Core standards. "When it comes to the education of our children, we do not have as much time as the patient and the cautious would give us," State Education Commissioner John King said. He was adapting a line from a draft of the speech that Martin Luther King delivered on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. John King made the appearance alongside New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who ducked out shortly after speaking to make it to the Sunday service at his own church, as part of a sweeping public relations push in the days before the first state tests tied to the new standards.
January 10, 2012
Cuomo says state's teacher evaluation law was "destined to fail"
Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned up his rhetoric against teachers unions today, charging that their influence made the state's teacher evaluation law "destined to fail." Cuomo was responding to the Obama administration's warning that New York could lose hundreds of millions of federal dollars if it does not speed up reforms that include overhauling how teachers are rated. In 2010, with the deadline to apply for federal Race to the Top funds looming, legislators passed a law requiring districts to negotiate more sophisticated evaluations. That law was key to helping the state secure $700 million in the funding competition, and it is that law that the Obama administration now wants to see in effect. But a requirement that districts negotiate some details with their local unions has hampered implementation, including in New York City. Speaking several days after negotiations in several districts fell apart, Cuomo said in his State of the State address last week that the state's teacher evaluation law "didn't work." Today, he took that characterization even further, suggesting that legislators had been excessively influenced by teachers unions and arguing that a different law is needed.
January 9, 2012
City nowhere to be found at Albany protest about frozen funds
NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi on the steps of the State Education Department building today ALBANY — Nearly 200 teaching jobs across the state could be lost as a result of a decision to freeze federal funding to low-performing schools, according to the head of the state teachers union. New York State United Teachers President Richard Ianuzzi detailed the potential job casualties this afternoon on the steps of the State Education Department building, where the Board of Regents was holding its monthly meeting. He was joined by union officials from six districts and superintendents from Albany and nearby Schenectady — but not from New York City, where he blamed politics for impeding progress on teacher evaluations. The press conference was a response to State Education Commissioner John King's decision last week to suspend federal funding set aside for the state's lowest performing schools, known as School Improvement Grants, in all 10 districts that were set to receive the money. Some of the districts, including New York City, failed to negotiate new teacher evaluations for those schools by a Dec. 31 deadline, and King said the other districts' evaluation plans didn't meet state standards. "What is happening here, ladies and gentlemen, is that the State Education Department has decided that being a bully and acting like a bureaucrat is better than meeting the needs of New York State's most vulnerable children," Ianuzzi said at the press conference. The money still could be restored. King gave all districts a 30-day period to appeal the decision and revise their system to meet his concerns, which he spelled out in letters last week. District officials at the press conference said that they planned to follow that process.
August 24, 2011
Partial win for state union on evaluations, but appeal is likely
A State Supreme Court Judge partially sided with the state teachers union today over how big of a role standardized state test scores should play for teacher evaluations. Overturning a key state regulation that was approved by the Board of Regents in May, Judge Michael Lynch ruled that local districts could only double the weight of test scores in evaluations – from 20 percent to 40 percent – if the local union signs off on the arrangement. The judge upheld a different regulation, which will allow districts the option to increase testing emphasis, so long as it is through collective bargaining. The New York State Education Department criticized the judge's reversal and pledged to appeal it, further complicating the future of an evaluation system that was originally slated to take effect this year. The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by New York State United Teachers in June. In the suit, NYSUT lawyers argued that the Regents were circumventing a carefully negotiated state law that set the weight of test scores at 20 percent.
August 30, 2010
Listen to us, teachers tell Arne Duncan in Albany
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (right, blue shirt) and NYSUT President Richard Ianuzzi listen to a teacher at a roundtable at NYSUT's Albany headquarters today. ALBANY, N.Y. — Teamwork was the watchword as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan took his national back-to-school bus tour to Albany today. Duncan has taken to the road to celebrate teachers, and to convince them that his reform efforts will not undercut their interests. In New York, many teachers are still skittish of a new teacher evaluation plan that will, for the first time, allow school districts to judge them based on their students' test scores. The state and city teachers union struck the agreement with state education officials in May, in part to improve the state's Race to the Top application. And so, in appearances at the state teachers union headquarters and the State Capitol, Duncan and state officials emphasized that New York's reform policies are the result of a team effort between state education officials and its teachers unions. Those policies won the state nearly $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds last week. "Where other states were not able to reach consensus, New York was," Duncan said.
May 11, 2010
What to expect from today's teacher evaluation agreement
A new teacher evaluation system that's likely to become state law could mean that, for the first time, school districts will fire teachers if they repeatedly fail to boost their students' test scores. But to do that, the state and school districts will have to track student work in more detail than they ever have before. And state and city teachers union officials sold the idea as a way to create better professional development for teachers and principals. The agreement struck between the state education department and the teachers union today means that, in three years, all New York teachers will be evaluated according to a new 100-point scale, with 40 of those points determined by student achievement data. The agreement was ushered out just in time for the June 1 second round deadline for the Obama administration's Race to the Top grant competition. So far, the new teacher evaluation system exists only in concept. To flesh it out, school districts will have to create a new battery of customized tests or other ways to measure student learning.
March 11, 2010
When Race to the Top collides with states' rights, debate follows
Teachers unions, school district officials, and lawmakers have all weighed in on New York State's Race to the Top application with varying degrees of skepticism and enthusiasm, but few have given any thought to the legal issues behind the experiment. Last night, students at Columbia Law School held a panel discussion on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's competitive grant program that, in its first round, will award several states hundreds of millions of dollars to adopt the Obama administration's education policies. The question put before the panel is one any federal initiative like Race to the Top is apt to bring up: Is this experiment stepping too heavily on states' policy toes? The panelists included Marcus Winters, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Deborah Meier, a columnist for Education Week, James Liebman, a law school professor and the NYC Department of Education's former accountability chief, Richard Iannuzzi, president of the state teachers union, and Dan Weisberg, a vice president at The New Teacher Project.
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