Heastie: Despite Concerns, Assembly Dems Will Pass Education Reforms
Assembly Speaker Carl Heasite this afternoon acknowledged the education reform measure in the 2015-16 state budget are difficult for his members to accept, but the legislation will pass his chamber at some point in the next few hours.
“It’s not an ideal world, it’s not an ideal situation, but the people of this state want an on-time budget,” Heastie told reporters.
The bill, being printed now, will be voted on as soon as its ready, Heastie said.
The vote comes despite a last-minute push from labor-backed groups like the Working Families Party and the Alliance for Quality Education to not consider the bill today and insert potential changes.
Heastie had still been negotiating the education policy in the budget that Gov. Andrew Cuomo pursued this year, which includes a new teacher evaluation criteria and tenure requirements as well as a reform to the so-called 3020A process that makes it easier for low-performing teachers to be fired, regardless of tenure.
The state’s teachers’ union remains staunchly opposed to the evaluation, tenure and 3020A changes, and rank-and-file Democrats, too, have been critical of the reform polices.
Both the New York State United Teachers union and their city affiliate, the United Federation of Teachers, have urged lawmakers to oppose the legislation.
But voting against the legislation will likely be difficult for Assembly Democrats: The package includes ethics reform legislation the conference previously signed on to earlier this month, which include new disclosure requirements for legal clients of state lawmakers, travel per diem reforms and campaign finance measures.
“We will pass the bill. Members raised a lot of I’d say issues of concern about implementation,” Heastie said. “You make these kinds of changes, members have questions.”
Teachers unions had called the changes a threat to collective bargaining, and local contracts will have to change in order to reflect the law’s changes. But they measures won’t be subject to negotiation on the local level themselves.
“I wouldn’t say it was undermining the bargaining units,” Heastie said.
Implementing the teacher evaluations is tied to a boost in school aid for districts, with a November deadline to do so. The Department of Education will be tasked with setting the weighted percentages for state tests and classroom observation.
Though a framework for the state budget was announced on Sunday by state lawmakers, the education reform measures were still being sorted out as late as Monday.
“There were a lot of open issues up until yesterday,” Heastie said, “and this was one of them.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on March 31, 2015 at 1:42 pm, and is filed under Assembly. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|