Tue June 12, 2012
Buffalo teachers approve evaluation plan; paves way for improvement grants
Buffalo Public School teachers have signed off on a teacher evaluation plan after nearly six-months of exchanges with the state education department and Buffalo School District.
Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore said the evaluation agreement finally makes sense to teachers. This agreement paves the way for more than $5 million in improvement grants for six failing city schools.
"After three days of meetings, the teachers at the effective school hammered out an agreement that they felt was fair," said Rumore.
The plan will now provide two points to a teacher's overall evaluation if more than 20-percent of students at a school do not speak English. Rumore also noted that they largely improved the issue of attendance for this new evaluation plan.
"What we have now in absenteeism is a step in the right direction. We still have a long way to go on it, but it's in there now, it's now all that we want, but it is a significant part," said Rumore.
Rumore said the evaluation agreement finally makes sense to teachers and denies that he and teachers were obstructionists in reaching the agreement.
"The superintendent and I signed off on four different agreements and sent them to the state, and the commissioner turned each one of them down," said Rumore.
"I am pleased that this phase of the process has been put to rest," said Amber Dixon, interim Buffalo Schools Superintendent. "1,110 plus teachers actually had a voice in this document. I speak with a stronger voice then the voices we have had in the past."
New York Education Commissioner John King Jr. said Tuesday funding will be restored to Buffalo's six low-performing schools. Buffalo was one of 1o districts that had the funding frozen by the State Education Department in January because a teacher evaluation plan did not meet state standards.
“I have approved Buffalo's Teacher and Principal Evaluation plan," said King.
King issued a written sttatement Tuesday:
"Now that the plan is signed by the district and the unions, SIG funding will be restored to the Buffalo School District," Commissioner King said. "The money will be welcome, of course. Buffalo’s SIG schools need all the resources they can get to help their students succeed. But it’s not just about funding. Teacher evaluations build better performance; they help teachers improve their practice, which in turn will help students improve their performance. Our goal is to ensure every student graduates from high school ready for college and careers. That’s not happening in Buffalo right now. Students in SIG schools have been denied a good education for far too long. But meaningful teacher evaluations and the improvements funded with SIG money should help start to turn that around. "It’s been a long struggle, but thanks to the perseverance of the District, the unions and their leaders, today is a victory for every student in one of the six affected SIG schools," said King.