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Blue State Just Let Teachers Unions Off The Hook For Failing Public Schools

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul recently repealed a key law that required schools to consider overall student performance when evaluating teachers, marking a significant win for teachers unions in the state.

The new legislation, introduced by the New York State Unified Teachers, repeals prior legislation signed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which held teachers accountable by mandating their employment be contingent on their performance, according to the WSJ. Under the now-repealed law, districts were able to remove tenured teachers who received two consecutive “ineffective” ratings, and teachers that received three were automatically removed.

In the 2022-2023 school year, only 48% of New York students in grades three through eight scored as proficient in English language arts (ELA) while only 52% scored proficient in math, according to the New York Education Trust. Continued poor performance in previous years prompted the New York State Education Department to lower testing standards for the 2022-2023 school year, dropping the proficiency requirement from 65% to 53% for eighth-grade math, and 65% to 61% for eighth-grade ELA, according to the Times Union.

Under the new law, teachers’ unions will be able to collectively bargain over performance reviews, preventing ineffective teachers from facing any consequences, according to the WSJ.

New York spends almost twice the national average on education at $29,873 per pupil, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The teachers’ unions have stated time and again that they are there for their members, as any union should be. However it is often incompatible with the best interests of students. Why are teachers exempt from discipline or removal when they are ineffective at their job?” PLACE NYC co-president Yiatin Chu said. PLACE NYC, which stands for Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, is an education advocacy group that focuses on “improving the academic rigor and standards of K-12 public school curricula and to improve students ability to achieve their greatest academic potential and prepare them for the next phase of their life’s journey,” according to its website.

Chu mentioned that the state already allows parents to opt their kindergarten through eighth-grade students out of state testing, “leaving the only evaluative tool of a teacher’s effectiveness to be their own assessment of students.” Now, a new proposal from the Board of Regents could allow students to graduate high school without meeting any standardized testing requirements.

If adopted, Chu worries it will become impossible to hold teachers accountable. “Essentially, this allows teachers to rate themselves effective just by subjectively passing all their students.”

These measures are stoking parents’ fears that the education system is failing their students.

“Unions protect their members. Who is protecting our students? Certainly not Governor Hochul,” Chu said.

Governor Hochul’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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