Yasmeen Khan is a reporter covering education. You can find her stories on the air and on SchoolBook.org, WNYC’s education website.
Yet another impasse over the teacher evaluation system coming to all New York City schools this fall has caused the city to lose $15 million meant to help school staff implement the complex plan.
State education officials set a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday for a grant proposal from the Department of Education and required unions representing teachers and principals to sign on. Since the city failed to meet the deadline, the state planned to redistribute the funds to other regions, said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the State Education Department.
The Council of Supervisors and Administrators, which represents principals, signed the proposal last week, according to the city. But the United Federation of Teachers did not, saying instead it wanted to resolve outstanding issues related to implementing the evaluation plan first, such as reducing teacher paperwork.
“The latest obstructionist positions of Mr. Mulgrew will cost the City and his own members $15 million in grant money that would provide teachers and principals additional training and resources in the new teacher evaluation system,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on Sunday. “By refusing to sign the grant and inserting unrelated issues at the eleventh hour, the UFT is once again hurting the students and schools of New York City.”
The grant money would have paid for in-person training to teachers and administrators, helping teachers with goal-setting and creating “career ladder” opportunities, said Erin Hughes, a D.O.E. spokeswoman. The career ladder would allow teachers to take on leadership roles in return for higher pay.
The teachers’ union said it had been willing to work over the weekend on the grant proposal to address its concerns over implementation and compliance with the new system.
“There are several things that need to be done to make the evaluation system work better in September, and the D.O.E. is picking and choosing the ones that they want to handle and not addressing all of the needs of the school system,” said Adam Ross, general counsel for the U.F.T.
He added that the D.O.E. was aware of the union’s concerns of a heavy paperwork burden for teachers, such as putting together binders of data for the D.O.E. that tracks each student. He said these binders were separate from teachers' own records of tracking students for instructional purposes.
“These are not last-minute things,” Ross said. “These are things that we’ve been talking to the D.O.E. for a very long time about.”