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State ed commish reads DOE the riot act

State Education Commissioner John King points the finger at the mayor and DOE.

State Education Commissioner John King points the finger at the mayor and Department of Education.

State Education Commissioner John King read New York City the riot act a day after the city missed the deadline for concluding a new teacher evaluation system.

Laying the blame squarely on the mayor and the Department of Education, King said the city’s failure would result in the immediate loss of $240 million in state education aid and put hundreds of millions of other state and federal dollars at risk, and could lead to the state controlling some city education spending.

“They are failing to fulfill their promise to implement a new teacher and principal evaluation system that relies on multiple measures,” King told reporters the day following the deadline. “We will either suspend funding where appropriate or direct funding where appropriate,” he said. “This is a matter of great urgency that has been made clear to the city.”

Mayor Bloomberg released his own interpretation of the breakdown, blaming the UFT. But Commissioner King confirmed that a “last-minute” demand the mayor cited as a union ploy to kill the deal was in fact part of a draft agreement that had been in place days before the deadline.

In an icy letter to Schools Chancellor Walcott on Jan. 18, King set new deadlines and detailed the money the city has already lost as a result of the breakdown or stands to lose because the DOE has not even begun planning to implement a new evaluation system.

  • A $240 million increase in state aid for the current year, promised by Gov. Cuomo, is automatically canceled,
  • Another $45 million in promised federal grants will be redirected elsewhere.
  • The city is now ineligible for $100 million over three years in School Improvement Grants.
  • $256 million in Race to the Top money will be withheld if the city does not put an implementation plan in place.
  • The State Education Department will not approve the city’s application for $830 million in Title 1 and 2A federal education funding if the city has not submitted and had approved an implementation plan by March 1.

King made clear that the state is prepared to shoulder aside the DOE if the city does not take immediate and specific steps toward a new evaluation system.

“It is not our intention to deprive students of much needed resources,” he said, but if the city does not put a plan in place for evaluations “we will begin to direct their use of dollars. We will determine at the department how these grants will be spent within the district. It’s clearly within our authority.”

King set a deadline of Feb. 15 for the city to submit a plan for training teachers and principals on rubrics for evaluation. Separately, on Jan. 22 Gov. Cuomo said he would withhold next year’s 4.4 percent increase in state education aid from any district that does not have an evaluation system in place by September.

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