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State Senate to vote on teacher evaluation bill

State Senate to vote on teacher evaluation bill

The state Senate’s Republican majority today agreed to vote on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bill t

The state Senate’s Republican majority today agreed to vote on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bill to keep teacher evaluations secret from most taxpayers.

That last-minute vote on the final day of the legislative session is a major step for the bill that is likely to pass with bipartisan support, though no tally has yet been taken.

A Democratic official who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said the Senate Democrats are expected to support the measure. That would provide as many as 30 of the 32 votes needed for passage. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Democratic conference hadn’t yet discussed the bill in light of the Republicans’ action.

Cuomo wants to disclose the one-phrase evaluations of teachers only to the parents of children they teach, not the general public. Even with the information, parents would have little chance of switching their children from a class with a teacher ranked as “ineffective.” The bill also wouldn’t identify teachers in the next classes so parents wouldn’t be able to “shop” for a better teacher the following year.

But the bill is strongly supported by teachers’ unions that were outraged when New York City made public all evaluations, an act confirmed as legal by a court. Unions called it an invasion of privacy and fodder for tabloids to criticize teachers.

The Democrat-led Assembly will pass Cuomo’s bill.

Republican senators are torn on the merits and the politics. Powerful teachers unions support Cuomo’s bill, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who is a major ally and donor to the Senate GOP, wants full disclosure.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco said today that the Republican conference in a brief, 20-minute conference decided to send the bill to the floor. That revives Cuomo’s measure after the governor and legislative leaders failed to negotiate an agreement after weeks of closed-door negotiations. Cuomo submitted his bill moments before the midnight deadline Monday for the bill to be voted on during the final day of the 2012 regular session.

DeFrancisco said no tally of votes was taken among the Republicans. But much of the Senate’s Democratic minority supports the bill and it could pass with a rare bipartisan vote Thursday.

When asked if it would likely pass, DeFrancisco replied, “You can count as well as I can.”

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