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Bill Blocking Release of Teacher Evaluations Expected to Pass

By Jill Colvin | June 21, 2012 2:26pm
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott briefed reporters on the data Friday.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott briefed reporters on the data Friday.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

NEW YORK CITY — In an unexpected move on the last day of their legislative session, state lawmakers are set to pass controversial new rules that would block the release of teacher evaluation results to the public and press.

Under the plan, submitted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, only parents would be allowed to review individual teachers’ and principals’ scores.

The public and press would be allowed to review school and grade-level data, but all information linking scores to individual teachers and principals would be scrubbed.

"After reviewing this legislation, our Republican conference believes that it represents a fair compromise between a parent’s right to know and some level of confidentiality for teachers as
we implement this new evaluation system," Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said after his fellow Republicans decided, at the last minute, that they would back the plan.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

"By giving parents more information about what is taking place inside their child’s classroom, we can enhance school accountability and better ensure students get the first-class education they deserve," he said.

The Democrat-led Assembly, which endorsed the plan earlier this week, was expected to pass the bill early Thursday afternoon.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a strong ally of the teachers’ unions, said he believes the legislation "strikes a fair balance between a parent’s right to know information about their child’s educators or schools and a teacher’s right to privacy."

"Teacher evaluations are a brand new tool," he said, "so we should proceed carefully."

Earlier this year, the city’s teachers’ union cried foul after DNAinfo.com New York and other news outlets published evaluation data on thousands of middle school teachers, complete with names, obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request.

Advocates have argued Cuomo’s plan strikes the right balance. But critics, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have slammed the idea as being too onerous for parents and obstructing the public's right to know.

"This is just an outrage. This is just a total cave to the unions," Bloomberg said last week when asked about the plan, arguing that, as public employees, taxpayers have a right to know how teachers perform.

Cuomo, meanwhile, celebrated his victory, calling the votes "the metaphorical cherry on the cake to the end of what I believe is one of the most successful and broad-ranging legislative sessions in modern political history."

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.