Independent New York City teacher group Educators 4 Excellence in $250,000 ad campaign on teacher evaluation
ALBANY — A group of reform-minded city teachers is taking to the airwaves today to demand the state impose a teacher-evaluation system on the Big Apple soon, The Post has learned.
Educators 4 Excellence plans to flood network and cable TV stations in the city with a 30-second ad calling on Albany to impose an evaluation system as soon as possible in the face of an impasse between Mayor Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers.
Gov. Cuomo will introduce legislation this week for a state-imposed system — but the measure could give the city and UFT until Sept. 17 to agree on their own plan before it takes effect.
But that could push implementation of any teacher-evaluation plan into the 2014-15 school year, E4E says.
“It will be incredibly difficult to train teachers and principals on a teacher-evaluation system that isn’t finished until the beginning of the [next] school year,” E4E executive director Jonathan Schleifer told The Post yesterday.
“We need a system put in place soon,” he said, adding that there is “no local deal in sight.”
The ad buy is expected to exceed $250,000 and may run longer than a week, organizers said.
It’s aimed at Cuomo, who faces his own deadline this week to amend his state budget proposal by adding his mandatory teacher-evaluation plan.
State lawmakers are expected to approve the budget for the state fiscal year that begins April 1 by the end of March.
E4E says it wants evaluations to provide feedback to teachers based on multiple observations, “student growth data” and student surveys, among other factors.
With school out for winter break, E4E members also plan to fan out across the city today to collect petition signatures calling for a state evaluation system to take effect as soon as possible.
“A meaningful evaluation system will tell me what’s working — and help me be better for my students,” Queens seventh-grade mathematics teacher Jemal Graham says in the ad.
“With feedback and support, I will be a stronger teacher for my students,” adds Rafael Gondim, a math teacher in Queens.
The city already lost $250 million in state aid by missing a Jan. 17 deadline for an evaluation plan that must be agreed to by the UFT.
It stands to forfeit another $224 million if the sides miss the September deadline.
“We can’t afford any more empty promises and empty programs,” Gondim says, with Bronx special-education teacher Susan Keyock adding, “Our students deserve better.”
The nonprofit E4E has drawn criticism for relying in part on funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates and Carnegie foundations.
A UFT spokesman questioned how “a supposedly grass-roots teacher organization with limited membership and resources can afford an ad campaign — unless of course the campaign is being funded by outside sources,” adding that the union hopes the state facilitates “binding arbitration” in the absence of a negotiated settlement.
Cuomo’s office had no comment and a spokesman for Bloomberg did not return a request for comment.
E4E was hatched about three years ago by several Bronx teachers frustrated over the lack of teacher input on school reforms. It has also advocated for merit pay and stronger tenure requirements, and opened a Los Angeles chapter in late 2011.
The teacher-quality and school-choice advocacy group StudentsFirstNY ponied up over half a million dollars in December for a citywide TV and social-media ad campaign to pressure the city and UFT to reach an agreement before the January deadline.