status update

Walcott calls state evaluation law "broken" during lobbying trip

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his state budget speech two weeks ago, he offered a stark choice to districts and unions working on new teacher evaluations: agree, or face the consequences.

In Albany today, Chancellor Dennis Walcott suggested that the city would prefer the consequences — widely assumed to be an effort by Cuomo to use his budgeting process to impose new evaluations without the consent of local teachers unions

“I think the law, and the governor is so right about this, is broken,” Walcott said. “It’s not going to work as constructed.”

Walcott would not comment on the status of negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers but said that the issue dividing them — the appeals process for teachers rated ineffective — had not been solved.

Cuomo, who has said the 2010 evaluation law was “destined to fail,” seemed willing but not eager to expend political capital on changing the law when he delivered his budget address. He said he preferred districts and their unions to agree on a “protocol” for new evaluations within 30 days.

But, Cuomo said, “If they can’t do that then we’ll do it for them.”

Walcott’s comments reflect pessimism about the state of negotiations in the city just days after UFT President Michael Mulgrew praised Cuomo for his “intervention” to induce the city back to the table. Walcott said he was in Albany to lobby them about changing the law.

Meanwhile, there has been no news about the status of negotiations between the state teachers union, NYSUT, and the hundreds of other school districts required to put new evaluations in place. Ten days ago, the union and the state had seemed to be on the verge of settling their differences.

Mixed messages

Strange graffiti scrawled on New York City education department headquarters, police say

Strange graffiti was scrawled on the education department headquarters.

Before 7 a.m. on Tuesday, cryptic messages were scrawled on the Corinthian columns of Tweed Courthouse, the historic education department headquarters in lower Manhattan.

The message meant to be conveyed by the graffiti, written in royal blue spray paint, was unclear. It was largely a rambling series of words related to social justice such as “unconstitutional murder lower economic education feudal class” and “superior erudite tyrants,” according to the New York City Police Department.

An investigation has been launched, but police said no description is available of who might have left the graffiti or why.

The education department’s maintenance team quickly began cleaning up the mess with a large pressure cleaner.

Tweed Courthouse is a New York City landmark and we’re disappointed that someone would vandalize the building,” spokeswoman Toya Holness wrote in an email.

The courthouse was designated as a landmark in 1984, and became the education department headquarters in the early 2000s after extensive renovations.

It took two decades to build and was completed in 1881, according to city records. Construction was interrupted by the trial of the legendary Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, who embezzled money through the project. He eventually was tried in an unfinished courtroom there and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Police didn’t say what types of charges or fines the tagger might face.

Superintendent search

Newark’s school board may pick a new superintendent today. Here’s what you need to know

PHOTO: Patrick Wall

The Newark school board is expected to choose a new superintendent at its meeting Tuesday evening — the first time it has done so in more than two decades.

In February, the state returned control of the 35,000-student school system to the school board, restoring its authority to pick a schools chief. Now, the board is set to choose from four superintendent finalists at its meeting at 6 tonight at Speedway Academies.

Before the big decision, here’s a quick rundown of what’s happened so far.

  • The four finalists are:
  • You can find their official bios here.
  • They each gave 30-minute presentations about themselves at a public forum on Friday, where the audience was not allowed to ask questions. The board interviewed the candidates in private on Saturday.
  • The finalists were selected according to a state plan that the district must follow to fully return to local control.
  • The plan says that the search must be led by a seven-person committee that includes three school board members, a state representative appointed by the state education commissioner, and three people with a “longstanding connection to Newark” jointly chosen by Mayor Ras Baraka and the commissioner.
  • The board hired the firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to conduct a national search (as required by the plan), and presented candidates to the search committee.
  • The plan called for the committee to select three finalists for the full board to vote on. However, board chair Josephine Garcia requested four choices instead of three. The state education commissioner agreed, and four finalists were presented.
  • The plan sets a deadline of May 31 for the board to choose a superintendent and that person to accept the offer.