Cuomo Puts Money Where His Mouth Is

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As expected, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released his proposed state budget on Tuesday, and over all it contained good news for public education: a 4 percent across-the-state aid increase for schools. About $800 million of that will go to poor districts, The New York Times reports.

Of course, there's a catch: only districts that approve teacher evaluation systems by this time next year will be eligible.

“The equation is simple at the end of the day,” Mr. Cuomo said. “No evaluation, no money. Period.”

That set off a reaction -- one that followed the usual script, with the city's teachers' union saying it was willing to negotiate (but holding firm on the matter of appeals of evaluations) and public officials giving the governor high-fives for his tough money-in-return-for-policy stance.

According to The New York Post, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg even used an expletive to describe how little he thought the United Federation of Teachers cared about the loss of state money. Speaking to The Post editorial board, the mayor also reportedly said:

“We say we’re going to lay off people . . . With ‘last in and first out,’ you want us to fire the last great group of teachers that we hired? I don’t think so. So the leverage you have over the union is not layoffs. It’s not the money the state can withhold. The only leverage you have is if you can get the state to pass a law saying you’ve got to do it.”

But as Gotham Schools reported, the United Federation of Teachers' president, Michael Mulgrew, said the two sides were split over a matter of principle for the union.

At a press conference responding to Cuomo’s budget proposal today, Mulgrew emphasized that sometimes principals issued low ratings for the wrong reasons and that the city had made clear in negotiations that it was unwilling to concede based on that possibility.

“The Department of Education, across the table from us, has told us they will not overturn a rating based on the substance of a rating,” Mulgrew said.

To be continued.

The governor made other proposals related to schools, specifically in the area of busing and special education, as SchoolBook reported. Over all, this was a much less painful budget than Mr. Cuomo proposed in his first year, in the face of a $10 billion budget gap. This year the gap is about $2 billion, requiring only nips and tucks in spending, The Times said.

Room for Debate had an interesting roundup of opinion on Tuesday related to the issue of data-driven teacher evaluations: Can a few years' data reveal bad teachers?

Have your own opinion? Here's SchoolBook's similar query: Do test scores indicate teacher effectiveness?

Are you on a hunt for a kindergarten for your child? This is the period for kindergarten registration, but Inside Schools reports that it's tough to follow through on the city's own recommendations that parents tour a school before registering.

Eliana Mascio writes:

Contacting the schools took much patience and several phone calls before I was able to get a firm answer. My results: Most of the schools that were willing to give parents tours made it clear that they gave tours only to parents whose kids were zoned for the school. Some of the schools I called gave no tours at all, leaving parents to make an "informed" choice without much real information to base it on.

The post helpfully includes a list of some schools that do or do not allow tours.

What has been your experience with school tours? Answer the query below.

There is a lot going on around town this Wednesday.

At 10:30 a.m. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott will visit the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science in the Bronx. The Times wrote about this 600-student school, grades 6 to 12, in September, and its program of visiting the home of every entering sixth-grade student before the school year begins.

At 6 p.m., the Panel for Educational Policy meets at Brooklyn Technical High School and will vote on some changes to schools (the big school closings vote is on Feb. 9).

A meeting of the citywide District 75 -- special education -- is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at P.S. K753 School for Career Development, 510 Clermont Avenue, cross street Atlantic Avenue & Fulton Street, Brooklyn.

From 6 to 8 p.m. there is another school closing hearing, this one at P.S. 19 Roberto Clemente in Brooklyn.

The Learning Network picks up on multiple “citizen scientist” articles in Tuesday's Science Times to ask students on Wednesday:
Given unlimited resources, what scientific or medical problem would you investigate?