Off With Their Heads! (But first sharpen the blade)

Merryl Tisch has earned some positive press for suggesting that she’d like to delay implementation of the new evaluation system. While this is a positive step, let’s put it in perspective:  this isn’t a stay of execution to figure out if the prisoner is actually innocent, it’s a postponement to make sure that the guillotine is functioning properly.

The Facts
The new education law passed on April 1st, includes a provision that all districts must submit revised APPR plans by November 15th or lose state funding. Two weeks ago, Tisch expressed concern that it is unrealistic for school districts to have new plans done by that date. Initially it was stated that extending this deadline would require legislative change, and the Governor’s office insisted they would not budge. 
Earlier this week, Tisch took it a step further, saying she was directing the State Ed Department to find a solution to extend the deadline to the following September. The response from the Governor’s office was that doing so “would be disregarding the law.” They acknowledged that there is a “a hardship exemption for districts that can’t get the evaluations in place by the deadline,”  but insist that it is supposed to be the “exception, not the rule.”
Ultimately, this will come down to a bit of a power struggle between the Governor’s office and the Regents and the definition of what “hardship” means. 
It certainly is a good thing if the deadline is extended globally. As it stands, districts will need to work over the Summer and into the first 10 weeks of school completely re-writing APPR plans, trying to make them fair and reasonable while fitting within the criteria established by the new laws and whatever guidelines the Regents produces by July 1st. Having the extra time will help. A global extension will also allow for more time for push back against the legislature in the hopes that they will find the courage to fix what they’ve done.
If the extension is only provided to districts that can prove hardship (regardless of generously hardship is applied), then it still causes a tremendous drain on everyone, as districts will have to assume the deadline is in place until hearing otherwise. 
It’s important to note that this only applies to the creation of a new APPR plan, not the education laws in general. In other words, if extensions are given, districts will use the APPR plans they have in place, but the new regulations regarding tenure and due process will still go into effect. 
Everyone has a different opinion about what’s behind this. It’s a power struggle, it’s a sign that Tisch is giving in to pressure, or it’s just theater designed to provide a distraction. One thing it is NOT is an indication that Tisch is starting to soften in her anti-public school stance. We can’t forget that nearly all of the ideas in the new laws reflect what was in her letter. 
Tisch is clearly not trying to delay the enactment of these harsh regulations because they’re bad for public education. Far more likely, she is driven by a fear that Cuomo’s haste in pushing the ideas too quickly will cause them to fail, ruining her plans and, when Cuomo throws her under the bus, destroying her legacy.

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