May 14, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On New York State’s Proposed Legislation on Teacher Evaluations
New York State United Teachers and the New York State Education Department reached agreement this week on a legislative proposal to set the state on a path to fairer and more objective evaluations of teachers and principals.
WASHINGTON—New York state is continuing the movement to overhaul teacher and principal evaluations in a way that is good for students, and meaningful, constructive and fair for teachers.
The proposed legislation was developed in collaboration with teachers and their unions, and is focused on both student learning and teacher practice. As such, it can help shape the debate as the U.S. Congress looks to reauthorize the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
One of the proposal’s greatest strengths is that it recognizes teacher practice and student learning are important, while at the same time helping ensure New York’s schools don’t become test factories where standardized test preparation is a substitute for real teaching and learning. The New York agreement achieves this by requiring most aspects of the plan to be locally negotiated, and making standardized test scores, initially, no more than 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation (rather than the 50 percent level seen in other plans).
NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi, who is also an AFT vice president, has always been on the side of kids. He is a relentless advocate for closing the achievement gap. New York is going to establish a forward-looking, thoughtful teacher evaluation system in large part because NYSUT, its leaders and its members understand that teachers and students are inextricably intertwined.
NYSUT’s hard work to raise teacher quality advances the AFT’s ongoing efforts to improve teacher development and evaluations. Both NYSUT and the AFT will continue to address all factors, in school and out, that keep students from getting the education they need to succeed in work, life and careers.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.