While the Empire State was agog over Spitzergate, New York's union-friendly state assembly quietly passed a bill that will preemptively quash any attempts by school districts to factor student test-scores into tenure considerations. The measure is unsubtly aimed at the Big Apple, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg is hawking outcomes-based personnel policies, such as evaluating teachers by their students' standardized-exam gains. Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said she had not pressed for the legislation. If you believe that, you probably also think George Mason is headed to the Final Four, because massaging legislatures, especially in New York, is a key union strategy that allows them to bypass the time-consuming process of negotiating policies into local collective-bargaining agreements. (Although unions are pretty fierce at the bargaining table, too: see here.) Unfortunately, this approach also negates the power of district and school leaders to experiment with promising reforms. Bloomberg has vowed to fight back. Using test scores to remove lousy teachers before they get tenure is a great idea (one being pushed by some on the left, too), and if this bill stands, it won't happen in New York.
"Bill Would Bar Linking Class Test Scores to Tenure," by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, March 18, 2008