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New York Governor Set to Enforce Arbitration Between New York City and Teacher’s Union

Friday, February, 22, 2013

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is considering mandating arbitration and stepping into the impasse currently underway between New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City teacher’s union.  The impasse is due to the proposed enforcement of a new teacher evaluation system to help New York City remove ineffective teachers from its public classrooms.  Using a rating scheme, New York City hopes to have an effective system with which to evaluate its 75,000 teachers, many of whom are dismissed each year due to incompetence.

New York City Schools Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, expressed his feelings regarding the impasse by saying, “I understand that the governor needs to be responsible for leading the state as far as trying to get an evaluation deal that will benefit the entire state.  Our goal is to make sure we have a fair evaluation system that allows us to… evaluate teachers not based on a system that’s been in place since the 1930s.”  Walcott also stated that the teacher’s union and the city have been negotiating but have been unable to come to an agreement concerning the evaluation system that should be implemented. 

New York City has already lost $250 million in state funds for failing to meet a deadline imposed on it by the state.  The problem lies in the fact that the teacher’s union will only agree to a one-year plan for evaluation and the city wants to extend that timeline.  However, according to sources connected with the Governor’s office, the legislation that he plans to introduce will require that the city state its request, the union state its request, and a panel of arbitrators for the State Education Department make the final decision based on the information submitted by both parties in dispute. 

Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, stated that a negotiated settlement would be preferable for the teachers and their representatives in the union, but if the state mandates an arbitrated decision, they will accept what the state decides. 

Governor Cuomo’s proposed legislation would set a deadline for September 17th, 2013 for the parties involved in the dispute to reach a compromise in negotiations.  If they fail to do so by that point, the state’s arbitrators will make the decision for them in a binding resolution that must be upheld by both New York City and the teacher’s union.