Here's Why Bloomberg And The UFT Couldn't Come To A Deal On Teacher Evaluations

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John Surico
It's official: as of yesterday afternoon, the teachers union and the Mayor's education officials both walked out on negotiations for a teacher evaluations deal worth millions. That means that the January 17th deadline has come and went, placing New York State out of Race to the Top fund consideration. And it's all because these two parties simply could not get along. 

Apparently, when the UFT and D.O.E. met last night, there was still hope on both sides that something would be done. Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott told reporters "we were very, very close." President Michael Mulgrew of the UFT agreed: "It is particularly painful to make this announcement because last night our negotiators had reached a deal."

So what the hell happened? Let the blaming game begin.

"Mayor Bloomberg blew the deal up in the early hours today, and despite the involvement of state officials, we could not put it back together," Mr. Mulgrew said. In response, the Mayor took a classic emotional route to accuse the teachers' union of squandering here: "In failing to reach an agreement, the saddest part is that our students will pay the cost. I can't tell you how much it pains me to see this happening." 

It's hard to say who's really responsible for everything that's happened. Some blame the state for placing this weight on municipal authorities; in other words, if the entire state knew how volatile the relationship between the UFT and Bloomberg administration is, why would Albany outsource negotiations to them? 

But, with the history between these two, it's clear that each player wants to come out of this as the attempted compromiser. Like when Mr. Mulgrew went ahead and notified Governor Cuomo (who refuses to extend the deadline) that no deal would be reached by midnight last night because of "the intransigence of the Bloomberg administration," citing the current bus strike as a prime example of this. And the same kind of emotions were fired from the Mayor's office towards the teachers' union. 

The Mayor told reporters that the talks self-imploded for him partially due to the deal's expiration date. In the pact that was temporarily reached, the agreement between the two parties would end in two years, meaning that the next Mayor would have to fix this problem down the road. Except the teacher evaluations are two-year-long tests of performance so, with that being said, having an expiration date that matched the length of the evaluations wouldn't really work. Mr. Bloomberg also found fault with the unions' request to double the arbitration hearings.

Regardless, it doesn't matter. When push comes to shove, we're still in the same boat as before: the City has no teacher evaluation deal and, as a result, students across the State are out a few (hundreds of) millions or so. In terms of price tag, this is the worst proliferation of the ratchet tensions between our Mayor and our teachers in recent memory. Politics is all that needs to be said here.

[jsurico15@gmail.com/@JSuricz]
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