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Teachers union says it will work "cooperatively" with the state

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The state's major teachers union says it wants to work cooperatively with the State Education Department, now that a judge has struck down key elements of new teacher evaluation regulations, but the court case could continue for some time. In Albany, Karen DeWitt has the story.

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Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

When State Supreme Court Judge Michael Lynch struck down a key provision of new regulations to evaluate teachers, the state’s largest teachers union declared victory, and now New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi says his union wants to work cooperatively with the State Education Department to conform to the court ruling.

“Now let’s get on with enforcing it.” said Iannuzzi, who says the ruling should be “celebrated”.

The judge threw out a provision that would have allowed a teacher to be rated as ineffective based solely on how well students scored on standardized tests. The rules were promulgated by the State Board of Regents, back in June, at the urging of Governor Andrew Cuomo and over the objections of the teachers unions, who subsequently sued.

Judge Lynch ruled that the new regulations violated a law passed in 2010, which stated that a teacher could not receive an unsatisfactory performance review using only data from standardized testing, and that other factors need to be considered, too. The law, passed with the cooperation of teachers unions in May 2010 as part of an application for federal Race To The Top grant monies, says 20% of a teachers performance evaluation must be based on state test, 20% based on criteria developed by individual school districts, and the remaining 60% on other more subjective measures of performance.

The State Education Department, however, does not appear eager to begin working out a new deal with the teachers. In a statement, Education Commissioner John King said that he’s “disappointed”, and is working with the State Attorney General on a possible appeal to a mid level appeals court.
Commissioner King says it the ruling is left to stand, then teachers who receive a zero on  performance reviews based on their students test scores could still be rated positively overall , and he says that’s wrong.

NYSUT’s Iannuzzi says more court action and an adversarial relationship between the department and teachers won’t be productive.

“It will be very discouraging,” said Iannuzzi, who said he is not seeking an “us against them battle”.

Judge Lynch did leave in place a provision to speed up the firing of teachers who are rated ineffective in their performance review.

Education Commissioner King says the department will also ask the legislature and governor for a new law to change the 2010 statute, if it has to.

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