Senate Democrats stepped further away Tuesday from Governor Andrew Cuomo by introducing a package of measures they said would fix education policy changes included in the state budget.
“Reforming how our state measures student performance and evaluates educators will help ensure a fairer and more successful public education system,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D.
Lawmakers unveiled plans to extend deadlines for developing new teacher evaluation criteria as well as changing how state funding is distributed, so districts won’t lose out on money if they don’t adopt the new evaluations.
“We don’t want to handicap districts and what they do,” said Sen. Marc Panepinto, D-Buffalo. “We want to add to the toolbox of things that they can utilize in properly evaluating teachers, but doing it in a way which respects students needs.
State lawmakers from both parties and in both chambers of the Legislature are eager to change the education measures approved only a few weeks ago. Cuomo championed those reforms, including making it harder for teachers to obtain tenure.
“Frankly, I’m proud that the Senate Democrats voted against these proposals,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Education issues are dominating the end of the legislative session. Cuomo now is turning his attention to the passage of an education tax credit, meant to encourage donations that help public and private schools. The governor is featured in a new TV ad boosting the bill.
The teachers union, however, is staunchly opposed to the tax credit and the bill faces an uphill climb in the Democratic-led Assembly.
“Majority rules, so I’ve been very clear that if we don’t have a consensus of Democrats to pass a bill, it’s not going to come to the floor,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D. “I don’t care what campaign goes on outside publicly.
Cuomo has said he will continue to push both the tax credit and the DREAM Act this session, which provides tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants.