BUFFALO, N.Y. - It has been nearly 6 month since the State Education Commissioner announced that, unless school districts presented approved teacher evaluation agreements, they would be in jeopardy of losing millions of dollars in Federal aid.
Since that time, the Buffalo Public Schools and its teachers union have reached agreement three times, only to have it shot down in Albany. Now Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon has a plan that she says will meet the State criteria. The only problem is that now BTF President Phil Rumore has refused to sign it.
On May 13, Journalist Jim Heaney of Investigative Post sat down with Mr. Rumore for a candid discussion about the issues surrounding this ping pong match with millions of dollars hanging in the balance. On May 20, Heaney talked to Regents Chancellor Bob Bennett about what Rumore said, as well as other education topics in the state.
Bennett in the interview:
- Takes issue with Phil Rumore's characterization of the dispute between the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the state Department of Education over teacher evaluations. Bennett said the evaluations are mandated by state law and there is no room for negotiation. He also said union concerns about the impact of low-performing students with high absentee rates on teacher evaluations are overblown, as standardized test scores account for only 2 out of 100 points on the evaluations.
- Contended that many Buffalo public schools are failing their students.
- Said there are far too many school districts in Western New York and that economics are going to force consolidation.
- Predicted that a bill pending in the state Legislature that would enable the state to take over local school districts will pass within two years and that Buffalo could be a prime candidate for a takeover.