A deal that would have disclosed teacher evaluations only to parents, not the public, unexpectedly sputtered Monday night and appeared unlikely to be settled this session.
Just six hours before a midnight deadline for the bill to be passed by Thursday’s end of the legislative session, Democratic Gov. Andrew said his bill to keep teacher evaluations from the public might not be approved after all.
Soon after, Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he didn’t expect the bill would come up by the end of the legislative session on Thursday.
“He said he wasn’t sending us a bill,” Silver said. “The governor was handling this, and he negotiated it and he determined not to send it.”
Silver said he didn’t know what derailed the bill.
“He told us he was going to discuss it with the unions and send us a bill,” Silver said. “At this time, there is no bill in existence.”
Cuomo, however, wouldn’t say if the measure was dead for this session.
Cuomo had been negotiating privately with legislative leaders to limit the disclosure of broad, single-phrase ratings. A court, education reformers and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have said all evaluations should be made public to trigger the quickest reform of schools and motivate teachers.
Earlier this year, the city released ratings for 18,000 teachers based on student test scores, outraging teachers and their union.
The Senate’s Republican majority and the Assembly Democratic majority didn’t specify any objections they had to Cuomo’s bill.
Cuomo and the state’s powerful teachers’ unions have tried to limit the evaluations’ release to parents of children in a teacher’s class, without further dissemination. The bill also would prevent parents from seeing the evaluations of teachers they might want to avoid in future years, which could be more useful to parents than seeing an evaluation of their child’s current teacher, who they can’t change.
“My instinct is we have time,” Cuomo told WOR Radio in New York City. “Teacher evaluations aren’t done in most places for two years.”
Cuomo had included the teacher evaluation among his top priorities for this legislative session. Cuomo and legislative leaders would have had to agree on a bill in closed-door talks by midnight Monday for the bill to age for three days of review as required by the constitution. Then it could have been voted on by the last day of the regular session, but closed-door talks appeared to end late Monday.
The bill, if agreed to, could still be enacted later in the week if Cuomo provided a message of necessity intended for emergencies to waive a three-day period. But Cuomo told WOR’s “The Gov. David Paterson Show” that he doesn’t want to order a message of necessity.
Cuomo has been criticized by good-government groups and by newspaper editorial boards for relying heavily on the shortcut to quickly pass complex and politically difficult measures before rank-and-file lawmakers and lobbyists unravel the deal.
“We’re waiting for the governor to send us a bill,” Silver spokesman Michael Whyland said after Cuomo’s radio comments.
There was no immediate comment from the Senate’s Republican majority.
The bill could also be handled if a special session is called later this year or in the 2013 session beginning in January.
The New York State United Teachers union remains a powerful force in Albany particularly with the Assembly and Senate majorities in election years like this one. There was no immediate comment from NYSUT.
A landmark law to require standard teacher evaluations for the first time was approved months ago. The administration of President Barack Obama required teacher evaluations as part of its reform effort that won New York more than $700 million in competitive grants to improve school performance nationwide.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.