Dennis M.

Walcott Chancellor 52 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007 +1 212 374 0200 tel +1 212 374 5588 fax

December 30, 2011 Dr. John B. King, Jr., Commissioner New York State Education Department 89 Washington Avenue Albany, New York 12234 Dear Commissioner King, This summer, the New York City Department of Education submitted an application for 44 of our schools identified as Persistently Low Achieving to receive federal School Improvement Grant funding. While 11 of those applications were for schools proposed for phase-out, the other 33 applications were for implementing either the federal Transformation or Restart model. As a condition of receiving the funding for those two models, you made clear that the City and United Federation of Teachers must agree to implement a comprehensive and meaningful teacher evaluation system in these schools. In July, we reached an agreement in principle with the UFT to implement such a system in these 33 schools, and based on that agreement, you allowed us to begin implementation of the Restart and Transformation models in these schools. Over the past five months, we have been meeting with the UFT and attempting to finalize such an agreement. But almost every step of the way, the UFT has insisted on conditions that I believe would undercut real accountability. For example, the UFT wants an outside arbitrator to hear appeals of teachers who receive a rating of ineffective or developing. This would be a major departure from our current appeals process, and stems from UFT’s dissatisfaction with the low-rate at which teachers’ “Unsatisfactory” ratings are currently overturned during appeals. However, if one considers the fact that less than 2% of all teachers are u-rated in a given year, it is unsurprising that the overwhelming majority of those would be upheld upon appeal. It is also worth noting that UFT’s proposal to radically change the appeals process contradicts the intent of the law and the state’s guidance by adding a burdensome new procedural layer designed to keep ineffective teachers in the classroom.

These demands reinforce my belief that the teachers’ union is not committed to real accountability. Even basic negotiations over something as simple and important as appointing arbitrators to handle 3020-A cases has become a battle. Starting in the spring, we began discussing the number of arbitrators who would hear disciplinary cases in the 2011-2012 school year. In past years, the DOE and UFT, through NYSUT, completed the selection process in the summer prior to the new school year, and arbitrators informed us of their selected dates before the start of the school year. This year, the UFT refused to participate in the selection process on a timely basis, and indeed even refused to participate in scheduling dates for returning arbitrators to hear new cases, thus preventing the DOE from moving forward with new 3020-a hearings for individuals who were to be charged as of the start of the school year. The UFT’s actions appeared motivated by a desire to force the DOE to agree to a reduction in the total number of arbitrators assigned to hear 3020-a cases, to a number well-below what is necessary to ensure that there is no backlog. Our goal is to ensure that we have the best teachers in our classrooms. Unfortunately, the union is more interested in setting up procedural roadblocks to protect the very worst performing teachers. This disagreement—regarding both policy and principles—leads me to conclude that we will not be able to come to an agreement on a fair and progressive teacher evaluation system. The City stands ready to continue discussions on this matter directly with the State, and I hope that you will consider the seriousness with which we are approaching this matter as a sign of our commitment to creating a meaningful teacher evaluation system for our schools. Thank you,

Dennis M. Walcott Chancellor

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