Albany, NY (January 10, 2012)
"As I said in my State of the State Address, this state is facing a crisis in our education system and how we hold our schools accountable for their performance in educating our children. We cannot allow a system to continue where we spend the most of any state on education, but rank only 38th in results. It does a disservice to both the student and the taxpayer.
We have a system that protects the massive education bureaucracy rather than focusing on investing in our classrooms. The forces that protect this bureaucracy have stymied reform at every turn, and as a result, hundreds of millions of dollars in education funding are now at risk.
One of the tasks set forth by the original Race to the Top competition was simple – design a teacher evaluation system that holds teachers accountable for their performance. Without a doubt, the system the state designed to accomplish this goal has been a failure.
Secretary Duncan’s report saying New York is on the watch-list for failure is yet another warning that the inability of school districts across the state and their unions to come together has jeopardized the quality of our kids' education. New York State’s students are now in danger of losing hundreds of millions of dollars because of the failure to devise a teacher evaluation system that works.
We need to achieve both short term and long term reform of this failed system. I will pursue such reform aggressively.
In the short term, I call on the State Department of Education, local school districts and the union leadership to expedite their negotiations on a teacher evaluation system to prevent the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.
Over the long term, we need to overhaul the system and change the law on the books. The Assembly-led legislation in 2010 protected the teachers union at the expense of the students and instituted a system that was destined to fail.
Despite the powerful interests working to protect the status quo at the expense of our students' success, this state must become a national leader in student performance."