FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR WALCOTT UPDATE NEW YORKERS ON TEACHER EVALUATION AGREEMENT
Below are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered today at City Hall.
"Before we listen to comments on six bills that we have before us today for the Mayor's signature, assuming the Mayor's not convinced otherwise, I did want to address an issue relating to the Department of Education and the UFT.
"As you know, over the past few weeks, we have been working closely with the Governor's Office and the UFT on an evaluation system for public school teachers, as is required by State law.
"Today, after working around the clock, I am happy to report that we have arrived at a strong evaluation system - and the Governor will put language into his budget amendments that we agreed on earlier today. As a matter of fact very earlier today, about 5:30 in the morning I'm told, although I was sleeping.
"This is very good news for the 1.1 million school children of New York City - and it really will benefit generations of students to come.
"Last month at the State of the City, if you remember, I laid out a series of bold steps to continue improving our schools. I stated that attracting, rewarding, and retaining great teachers is a key priority for this Administration.
"Additionally, I made it clear that our kids could no longer tolerate having ineffective teachers in the classrooms and that it was critical to evaluate them fairly and quickly. These goals guided our team during these negotiations with the union over a citywide evaluation process.
"The system the Governor will put into his budget amendment, which will become effective by the end of the year, will allow us not only to move forward with replacing the broken 'Pass/Fail' system with something far more rigorous and far more comprehensive, it will also help us ensure that teachers who are rated 'ineffective' can be given the support they need to grow, or if that doesn't work, to be moved out of the classroom.
"This system is based on the same principles as the successful New Haven system. If you remember, you may have read this morning, Nick Kristof's column in today's New York Times talked about that. What we've agreed to will improve accountability in the classroom, it will help provide our teachers with the tools they need to help our kids fulfill their potential.
"I do want to thank, in particular, the Governor and his staff for their leadership on this issue, as well as a special thank you to State Education Commissioner John King and Merryl Tisch, the Chancellor of the State Board of Regents, who really were very instrumental in this process. And also UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
"And I want to thank our team - led by Chancellor Walcott - who did an outstanding job representing the interests of our 1.1 million school children.
"Let me make two points. First, nothing in this deal prevents us from moving forward with our plan to replace the lowest-performing teachers in 33 of our most struggling schools so we can immediately begin turning them around and giving our students the support they need.
"And second: While there are still issues that the City and UFT will be discussing in order to finalize an evaluation system, this resolves the lion's share of the most difficult issues. And the details remain to be worked out by staffs, but keep in mind, the UFT and the City are always talking and there are always things that we are coming to agreements on.
"It was not easy, obviously, to reach this point, but as I've said repeatedly I always was optimistic that we were going to come to an agreement. The teachers union wants to have effective teachers in the classroom and help our kids the same way the City does. And they want to protect their members, and we want to make sure that their members can grow and that we can help them improve their skills so that they can continue to do the great job that the vast bulk of teachers in New York City do.
"We should not forget that we still are the model for what you do with a big city school system in America, and the improvements that have been made over the last ten years really are quite amazing. And we've just got to make sure that we continue to do that.
"We never wavered in our commitment to our kids, during all the negotiations we refused to horse-trade away their futures, and I think this is a big victory for our schools and our children. And let me just remind you of that, that everybody always wants to know who wins and who loses - it's the kids that really are the winners here, and it is New York City and America and our future. And I hope that other cities across the country look at what we've done and they're free to take what we've done and to implement the system in their school systems as well."
Stu Loeser/Lauren Passalacqua (212) 788-2958
Twitter YouTube Flickr