State Education Department approves Buffalo's teacher evaluation plan

Jan 17, 2013

The long struggle over evaluating teachers in Buffalo may be over for this year, with Albany approving the plan bargained between city schools and the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

Approval allows more than $33 million in state aid, already in the budget, to flow into the till of the cash-strapped district.

The agreement and state approval stretched into the final hours Thursday, with a midnight deadline.

State Education Commissioner John King said late Thursday afternoon his staff had approved the plan agreed to by the district and the BTF on Tuesday, after some tinkering.

"The new evaluation plan is great news for Buffalo teachers, administrators, parents, and most important, Buffalo students. It’s a strong step toward helping teachers and principals improve their practice, which will in turn help students improve their performance and build a better future. Our goal is to make sure every student graduates from high school ready to succeed in college or careers. Buffalo’s evaluation plan is a major step toward helping Buffalo students reach that goal," King said in a statement 

BTF President Phil Rumore says the process was more difficult than it should have been. The union leader downplayed the significance of the entire evaluation initiative.

"We've spent hours and hours only to have State Ed find something else wrong with it," Rumore told WBFO News.

"It's important in one way to get the funding into the district, but on the other hand, it's really not as important as one would believe because ultimately this is all based on standardized tests [and] putting pressure on our kids. None of this has anything to do with what would really help teachers teaching students."

The first round of voting on the plan among BTF members will be tonight and eventually the entire union will be asked to approve.