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The Empire

A deal gets struck on teachers, but city schools still to close

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From WNYC's Beth Fertig:

United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew says he's pleased with teacher evaluation deal negotiated by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The plan allows for teachers with bad ratings to have an independent validator give them assistance. A limited number of teachers will also be allowed to have a third party decide if they deserve a poor rating.

But Mulgrew is still upset that Mayor Bloomberg wants to close 33 struggling schools and reopen them, in order to replace half their teachers. He says some of them are improving.

" If he tells us that he'd rather close schools that are doing well with the staff inside them, then it's going to be a big challenge for us to get to an agreement," Mulgrew said.

The city and the union have until next January to reach a final agreement. But the mayor says he needs to act now with respect to those 33 schools because the teacher evaluation system won't take effect fast enough.

His plan was also designed at winning back $58 million in federal grants the city lost for struggling schools when it didn't enact a teacher evaluation system by 2012.

More on the city's decision, post-agreement, to continue school closing plans, from SchoolBook's Anna Phillips:

The original reason behind Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plans to close and reopen 33 struggling schools, replacing half of the staff, was that the city’s teachers union would not agree to a new teacher evaluation system required under those schools’ improvement plans.

But on Thursday, after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the sides had reached an agreement, the mayor said he would go forward with plans to close the schools anyway.

The mayor’s argument: time is of the essence. If the city and teachers’ union finalize a new teacher evaluation system within a year, it will still be two years before teachers can receive two ineffective ratings, positioning them for dismissal. That timeline would not remove schools’ worst teachers quickly enough, the mayor said.

“It would be unconscionable for us to sit around for two years and do nothing,” the mayor said at a news conference at City Hall shortly after the governor’s announcement.

Read the rest of the article here.