NYSUT announced today that is is bringing suit against the New York State Education Department for violating the Taylor Law and teachers’ collective bargaining rights with the implementation of the the new teacher evaluation rules established in the Education Transformation Act (the law that was passed last April). The lawsuit focuses on two particular elements of the new evaluation regulations.
Teacher improvement plans
Until now, TIPs have been subject to collective bargaining. Under the new regulations, TIPs are mandatory for teachers receiving ineffective or developing ratings and are to be “developed by the superintendent or his or her designee in the exercise of their pedagogical judgment,” thus completely overriding previously negotiated agreements.
Monitoring of APPR Plans
The second area addressed by the lawsuit concerns a provision in the regulations that allows the state to take “corrective action” on a district’s negotiated APPR plan if it is not “rigorous” enough (e.g. if the number of teachers identified as developing or ineffective does not correlate to the number of students showing insufficient growth). This could include requiring the district to implement additional professional development, the use of independent evaluators to review the evaluation system, or actually mandating that the district make changes to the negotiated agreement.
The suit claims that these regulations “interfere with rights protected by the Taylor Law by imposing restrictions on the negotiation of TIPs, which are a mandatory subject of bargaining, and by purporting to give SED the power to require changes in collectively bargained agreements.”
While the lawsuit does not go after the full Education Transformation Act, this is a hugely significant step. Not only are these two elements of the law potentially harmful in-and-of-themselves, their very existence on the books undermines the power of public sector unions and sets precedent for the further erosion of our basic rights as employees.
This is a multi-faceted battle that will be fought on many fronts. While there is nothing to be done but watch and wait for the court case, we are hopeful that there will be a push on the legislative side as well. Meanwhile, NYSUT is asking for everyone’s support in fighting the recently revised backdoor voucher scheme as well as in making amendments to the tax cap.
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