Buffalo’s side agreement on teacher evaluations is “on the line of being a fraud in the ethical and legal sense,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday on an Albany radio show.
The Buffalo News reported Monday that Superintendent Pamela C. Brown in mid-January sent a letter to the Buffalo Teachers Federation indicating the district had agreed not to use teacher evaluations from 2011-12 or 2012-13 in any termination proceedings.
Two days later, the district submitted its teacher-evaluation plan to the state Education Department. District officials certified that the plan had been submitted in its entirety.
Buffalo school officials also certified their assurance that the evaluations “will be used as a significant factor for employment decisions and teacher and principal development.”
In an interview with The News, state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the district will jeopardize more than $30 million in state aid this year, as well as tens of millions more in various other aid this year and in the next few years.
Tuesday morning, Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter cited The Buffalo News story and asked the governor whether he agreed with King.
“Yes,” Cuomo said. “I don’t know the facts. But if they made a side deal that was contrary to what they certified to the state, that’s right on the line of being a fraud in the ethical and legal sense.”
The governor noted that all but a few of the state’s 700 or so school districts now have an approved teacher-evaluation plan in place, after he tied districts’ increases in state aid this school year to their implementation of a teacher-evaluation plan.
“We have the most expensive school system in the country, and our performance is towards the bottom,” Cuomo said. “So we have to find out what’s working and what’s not working, and the performance counts. So we have to measure the performance. The goal is the education for a child, not the elaborate perpetuation of the bureaucracy.”