ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a last-minute push Tuesday for passage of legislation that would limit disclosure of teacher evaluations only to parents, not the public.
The Assembly's Democratic majority plans to pass the bill, while the Senate's Republican majority started discussing it Tuesday morning.
Parents would be able to get the evaluation only for their child's current teacher under Cuomo's bill. The legislation would also disclose the evaluations of other teachers in the same grade or subject, but without identifying those teachers, according to the bill Cuomo submitted just before midnight Monday night.
That means parents who are dissatisfied with the current teacher's performance would have a difficult time trying to switch their children to a different classroom, because they would have no way of knowing how other teachers measured up.
Parents and guardians would get the ratings - highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective - by any manner, including by phone or in person. The legislation would give both parents and the public a general idea of the effectiveness of a school's teaching staff by disclosing the number of teachers in each rating category. The evaluations and any disclosure of them is still more than a year away.
Without any law limiting disclosure, all public school teachers' evaluations by name would be available to the public.
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 independent mayor is a key supporter and campaign funder of the Senate Republicans.
Cuomo submitted his bill after failing to reach an agreement with legislative leaders in closed-door negotiations, with the goal of seeing both houses vote on it by the end of the session on Thursday. But any amendments by the Legislature would require Cuomo to speed up the process by issuing a "message of necessity," which he commonly uses to suspend the constitutional requirement of three days' public review before a bill is considered.
"I believe the bill strikes the right balance between a teacher's right to privacy and the parents' and public's right to know," Cuomo said.
The Senate's Republican majority was examining the bill early Tuesday.
"At this time, there is no agreement to pass the governor's bill," said Scott Reif, spokesman for the majority. "Discussions with the governor will continue."
There was no immediate comment from the Assembly's Democratic majority.
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.
A landmark law to require standard teacher evaluations for the first time was approved months ago. President Barack Obama's administration 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.