Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekly Address: Continuing to Strengthen American Manufacturing


President Obama describes a series of steps to strengthen American manufacturing and create jobs here in the United States.

Biden: 'He Went Where the Story Took Him'



Statement from the Vice President on Anthony Shadid 

I've spent much of my career working on America's policy toward the Middle East, and particularly Iraq. Like millions of other readers around the world, I have enriched my understanding of that complex region through the reporting of Anthony Shadid. 

In the finest tradition of foreign correspondence, Shadid was never content merely to opine from afar. He went where the story took him--from the fall of Saddam Hussein, to the battlefields of Southern Lebanon, to the profound transformations of the Arab Spring--often at extraordinary personal risk. 

Few foreign correspondents of his generation, or any other, could match his mastery of the language and cultures in the region he covered. And he used those gifts to seek out those far from the corridors of power--giving voice to Iraqis, Lebanese, Egyptians and many others who might otherwise not have been heard.

Not one to dwell on his own achievements or hardships, Shadid once said, "the worst part of this job is what you put other people through." My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones, and particularly his two young children.

Image courtesy of http://www.clker.com

New York Launches Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence


Will Utilize Established and Innovative Tools and Strategies

A comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence across the state of New York has been launched by the Cuomo Administration. The initiative includes leveraging $2 million to develop community specific anti-gun violence strategies, launching a targeted advertising campaign, supporting effective community based violence intervention programs, and creating a toll-free tip line to encourage citizens to report illegal firearm possession.

"For too long, urban communities across New York have been devastated by gun violence, destroying families and neighborhoods," Governor Cuomo said.

"Although the crime rate in New York State has dropped 60 percent, making it the safest large state in the country, we must do all we can to stop the violence and make sure our residents are protected and our streets are safe. These initiatives will give communities the tools they need to effectively fight gun violence and reduce crime, making the state a safer and better place to live for all."

This initiative is a part of Cuomo’s larger urban agenda to aggressively support the implementation of community-based violence reduction strategies involving both the police and the community. Governor Cuomo’s plan includes four innovative strategies to reduce gun violence across the State:

Creating Community Specific Anti-Violence Strategies

The Governor is awarding $1 million dollars to six communities – Newburgh, Albany, Schenectady, Brownsville, the Bronx and Manhattan, that are most impacted by gun violence to develop strategies to reduce it.

Two prominent academics who have focused on crime and gun violence, Professor Tracey Meares of Yale University and Professor David M. Kennedy of John Jay College, will work with the localities to implement this strategy. They have employed strategies in other jurisdictions that have reduced crime dramatically.

Launching Advertising Campaign

The Governor will launch a state-wide advertising campaign focused on reducing gun violence. The campaign will utilize several tools that will target and encourage changes in behavior that will reduce violent crime. The campaign is expected to launch in the spring of 2012. 

Supporting Effective Community-Based Programs

The Governor is committed to continue funding community-based programs that have demonstrated effectiveness and a record of success.

The Governor recently awarded $700,000 to support anti-violence intervention (also referred to as the SNUG program) in five communities including Yonkers, Albany, Niagara, Harlem and Brooklyn. Based on a public health model of violence intervention, the program funds “violence interrupters,” often ex-offenders who identify potential disputes and try to de-escalate. The program managers are required to submit results by the end of the fiscal year. 

Creating A Toll-Free Gun Tip Line

Individuals in communities with persistently high rates of gun violence will now have access to a dedicated hotline to report illegal guns. The Governor announced the launching of a toll-free number, 1-855-GUNS-NYS (486-7697), that will provide follow-up on caller information regarding the location of an illegal gun. Rewards will be determined based on the value of the lead.

According to Meares, "This new approach is based on promoting our communities' confidence in the legitimacy of the law and aims to reduce crime through changing offenders’ behavior for the long term. We've seen significant declines in violent crime in other cities, and I look forward to working with these new partners to implement similar strategies in their communities."

"By focusing community outreach, help, and where necessary, enforcement on the small number of core offenders who drive the crime numbers, we can reduce violence while at the same time limit the number of people we lock away in prisons. National experience has shown that this approach makes neighborhoods dramatically safer and creates stronger communities," added David M. Kennedy, professor at John Jay College.

Breakthrough on Movies in Dispute with China



China Will Have Greater Access to U.S. Films

Washington, D.C.  Vice President Joe Biden announced today that China has agreed to significantly increase market access for U.S. movies in order to resolve outstanding issues related to films after the United States’ victory in a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute last year. 

The agreement announced today will allow significantly more job-supporting U.S. film exports to China and provide fairer compensation to U.S. film producers for the movies being shown there.

“This agreement with China will make it easier than ever before for U.S. studios and independent filmmakers to reach the fast-growing Chinese audience, supporting thousands of American jobs in and around the film industry,” said Vice President Biden, who spent the day in the Los Angeles area with Vice President Xi Jinping of China. 

“At the same time, Chinese audiences will have access to more of the finest films made anywhere in the world.”

“U.S. studios and independent filmmakers cite China as one of their most important world markets, but barriers imposed by China and challenged by the United States in the WTO have artificially reduced the revenue U.S. film producers received from their movies in the Chinese market,” added United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk. 

“This agreement will help to change that, boosting one of America’s strongest export sectors in one of our largest export markets.”

The Chinese film market is large and growing quickly; last year, Chinese box office revenue was up to $2.1 billion.  Much of this revenue came from 3D titles, which are a rapidly growing sector of the film industry.

The agreement allows more American exports to China of 3D, IMAX, and similar enhanced format movies on favorable commercial terms, strengthens the opportunities to distribute films through private enterprises rather than the state film monopoly, and ensures fairer compensation levels for U.S. blockbuster films distributed by Chinese state-owned enterprises. 

The agreement will be reviewed after 5 years to ensure that it is working as envisioned.  If necessary, the United States can return to the WTO to seek relief.

The United States initiated the underlying WTO dispute in April 2007. In the dispute, the United States sought to address significant market access concerns relating to China’s treatment of films for theatrical release, as well as other cultural products.

With regard to films, a WTO panel found in a report issued in August 2009 that key Chinese film import restrictions were inconsistent with China’s WTO obligations.

In December 2009, after China appealed, the WTO Appellate Body rejected China's claims and upheld the panel's findings. China promised to come into compliance by March 2011, but informed the United States at the deadline that this would not be possible. The two sides have been making efforts to resolve their differences since that time.

On a global basis, films and other audiovisual services are a key export sector in which the United States enjoys a $12 billion trade surplus. U.S. cross-border exports of audiovisual services, including films, have consistently exceeded U.S. cross-border imports over the last decade.

Image courtesy of http://www.webweaver.nu

Murdoch Expands Sun Tabloid

Murdoch went to London to boost morale at 'The Sun' newspaper and announces the launch of 'The Sun' on Sunday.



By Liam Keegan
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of Newsy.com 

Six Trillion Dollars in Fake U.S. Bonds Seized

Italian authorities have seized six trillion dollars in fake U.S. bonds in Switzerland as part of a crackdown on mafia activities.



By Celia Murray
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Japan's Emperor Akihito to Undergo Heart Surgery

Monarch Akihito must undergo heart surgery. The media reflects on his importance to the country as well as the now-debated rules of succession.



By Kevin Dubouis
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Return to Camelot?: A New Kennedy Steps into the Spotlight

Joe Kennedy III is the first Kennedy of his generation to run for Congress.



By Allie Spillyards
Anchor: Allie Spillyards
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

MSNBC and Pat Buchanan Cut Ties

MSNBC drops conservative analyst Pat Buchanan in response to controversy surrounding his book publication.



By Allie Spillyards
Anchor: Allie Spillyards
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Friday, February 17, 2012

R.I.P: Anthony Shadid, 'Old Gray Lady' Stalwart



September 26, 1968 – February 16, 2012

"From The G-Man" Salutes the Life and Work of a 
New York Times Icon

May he rest in peace. 


Photo courtesy of http://anthonyshadid.com/

Donilon to Travel to Israel



Meeting with Officials to Discuss a Range of Issues

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will travel to Israel from February 18-20 for consultations with senior Israeli officials about a range of issues, including Iran, Syria, and other regional security issues. National Security Advisor Donilon’s travel is the latest in a series of regular, high-level consultations between the United States and Israel, consistent with our strong bilateral partnership, and part of our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.

Meeks: 'To Now Target Their Benefits is Unconscionable'

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks

Congressman Expresses Concern for Provision in Payroll Tax Extension Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-6), Senior Member of the House Financial Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement on the Payroll Tax Extension Bill:

“I have long supported an extension of a year-long the payroll tax cut for American families, as well as the extension of vital unemployment insurance benefits.  I voted for this bill today because of the help these extensions will provide to 160 million Americans, but I am disappointed that the conference committee charged with the task of crafting this deal chose to pay for it by slashing federal employee benefits and targeting healthcare funds.

“Cutting taxes on one end, but targeting the benefits of middle class workers on the other, is counterproductive.  Federal employees have made great financial sacrifices during the past few years, including accepting pay freezes while suffering attrition at several agencies.  To now target their benefits is unconscionable.

“I am equally disturbed that the conference committee targeted the Prevention and Public Health Trust Fund, which was designed to help re-focus American healthcare services towards prevention, and not simply the treatment of ailments.  Preventive care can help prolong life and avoid costly future medical treatments.  To raid this fund is not only shortsighted from a scientific perspective; it is against our long-term fiscal health.”

West Wing Week: 2/17/12

Time Warner Cable, MSG Reach Agreement


Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo 

"I applaud both Mr. Dolan and Mr. Britt and their companies. I thank them for being responsive to the needs of New Yorkers."

More information on the dispute and settlement is available in the following New York Times article: Time Warner Cable and MSG Resolve Dispute

'Work for Success' Targets Former Inmates


Initiative to Increase Job Readiness, Improve Employment Outcome for New Yorkers

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the creation of "Work for Success," a jobs initiative aimed at reducing the high unemployment rate among the thousands of New Yorkers returning home from prison. 

Work for Success will develop a comprehensive statewide approach to increase job readiness and improve employment outcomes for the formerly incarcerated. This initiative will benefit all New Yorkers by creating more tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, which will make streets safer and strengthen the state's entire economy. 

"Tens of thousands of people leave New York State prisons each year and without employment most are at higher risk of returning to incarceration," Governor Cuomo said.

"The 'Work for Success' initiative will reduce poverty and joblessness for some of our state's hardest to employ citizens, while enhancing public safety and improving economic conditions for the families and communities to which they return." 

Governor Cuomo's Work for Success initiative will address the employment needs of formerly incarcerated people who are at higher risk of recidivism.

Over the course of the next year, Work for Success will:  evaluate the employment programs that currently exist for the formerly incarcerated and carry out evidence-based, action-oriented research to identify which strategies work best; promote building relevant job readiness skills throughout correctional programming; align vocational skills programs with specific credentialing pathways and employment opportunities in the New York labor market; help to effectively connect New Yorkers returning from prison with appropriate employment services; and build the capacity of local community organizations to address the unique needs of people with criminal convictions.

Work for Success will be led by policy makers, representatives from government agencies, and practitioners from across the nation with expertise in employment services for the formerly incarcerated.

The Executive Committee for Work for Success will be chaired by Mindy Tarlow, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a non-profit provider that offers comprehensive employment services exclusively for people with criminal records. CEO promotes the evidence-based practices in which Work for Success will be grounded.

A recent study published by research corporation MDRC found that CEO's employment model for newly released prison inmates resulted in a 22 percent decrease of convictions.

Members of the Executive Committee will include members of the Governor's Office, as well as representatives from the following organizations: Brooklyn Treatment Alternative to Crime, Buffalo Urban League, Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, Center for Community Alternatives, Council of State Governments Justice Center, The Doe Fund, F•E•G•S Health and Human Services System, Fortune Society, Greenhope Services for Women, Hour Children, Legal Action Center, National Skills Coalition, Osborne Association, Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, STRIVE, and Urban Institute.

Many city officials praised the new initiative, which include the following: 

"Many New Yorkers who return home from prison face the very real problem of finding a job. While the economic climate is difficult for all New Yorkers, those with prior criminal convictions have an even harder time gaining employment. I commend Governor Cuomo for spearheading his 'Work for Success' initiative to help this vulnerable population to rebuild their lives and return to being productive, contributing members of our state." -  New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio, Chairman of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee

"The high rate of unemployment among formerly incarcerated New Yorkers is a detriment to all of the people of our state, not just to those with criminal records. This is a serious matter that will not be solved by writing a report that will only sit on a shelf. The 'Work for Success' initiative provides the effective employment strategy that this issue demands. Through this approach, New York can make real progress in helping fellow citizens returning from incarceration to reenter society in a way that is beneficial to our whole state. I thank Governor Cuomo for making this innovative initiative a priority." -  New York State Assembly member Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr., Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means

"In order to get our state back on the path to prosperity, we must consider the needs of all New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo's 'Work for Success' initiative does this by aggressively working to combat the cycle of unemployment facing New Yorkers coming home from prison. I am proud to work with the Governor to ensure that this initiative is a success so that we help these individuals in need and benefit our economy statewide." - New York State Assembly member Jeffrion Aubry, Chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Correction

"We are thrilled to be involved in this initiative at such a critical moment. It is essential that we make sure that people coming home from prison get the right employment services at the right time to help them successfully rejoin their families and communities. We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and look forward to carrying out his vision to help all New Yorkers." -  Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Mindy Tarlow

"We are proud to be working on such a vital tool for building strong communities. By helping New Yorkers who return home from prison to have productive lives, we will benefit all members of our statewide community. Governor Cuomo's 'Work for Success' initiative would be helpful under any circumstances, but in today's economic climate, this approach is crucial to the health of our communities and the strength of our economy." -  Legal Action Center Director and President Paul Samuels

"Through more than 45 years of providing re-entry services to thousands of men and women a year, The Fortune Society knows that, without legitimate employment, formerly incarcerated people face a strong prospect of returning to prison. Through 'Work for Success,' we can assist these individuals by providing them with necessary employment services, improving their job readiness, and helping them find suitable employment opportunities. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and for making such an important initiative a reality in New York State." - The Fortune Society, Inc. President & CEO JoAnne Page

NY Deputy Commish to Lead Tenant Protection Unit



Unit Will Enforce Landlord Obligations to Tenants and Impose Strict Penalties

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the appointment of Deputy Commissioner Richard R. White to lead the new Tenant Protection Unit at New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state's housing agency.

Governor Cuomo's Budget and Reform Plan for 2012-13 dedicates $4.8 million to the Tenant Protection Unit (TPU), which will proactively enforce landlord obligations to tenants and impose strict penalties for failure to comply with HCR orders and New York's rent laws. 

"In 2011, we passed the greatest strengthening of the state's rent laws in forty years, and today we are taking the next step to protect tenants by appointing Deputy Commissioner White," Governor Cuomo said.

"Our new Tenant Protection Unit will proactively prevent problems and root out fraud that can wreak havoc in the lives of rent-regulated residents. With his deep background in both law enforcement and real estate law, Deputy Commissioner White is just the person our state needs for this crucial new position."

Since 2010, Deputy Commissioner White has been of counsel at the Manhattan law firm of Cyruli Shanks Hart & Zizmor LLP, specializing in corporate compliance and real estate litigation. Previously, he served as Deputy Commissioner for Investigation, Trials & Litigation at the New York City Department of Correction.

White also has been the Deputy Commissioner of Operations at the New York City Department of Probation. He previously served as a Homicide and Senior Trial Attorney in the Office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. 

Deputy Commissioner White holds a B.A. in Economics from Franklin & Marshall College, a J.D. from Widener University School of Law, and was an Executive Education Fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

His professional associations include the Bar Association of New York City, the National Association of Inspectors General, and the National Black Prosecutors Association.

"Deputy Commissioner White has already shown tremendous leadership in his law enforcement career and now his expertise will continue to benefit New York State. We are looking forward to his work to ensure that the one million rent-regulated tenants of New York State are well represented," stated New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns.

Deputy Commissioner White said, "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for this tremendous opportunity to serve the people of New York State. I look forward to working with Commissioner Towns to build upon the many accomplishments that he and the Governor have already made through Homes and Community Renewal. I am eager to apply my experience from the public and private sectors to help protect the tenants of our state through this vital new unit." 

BREAKING NEWS: House Passes Payroll Tax Cut Extension


Bill Passes by a Vote of 293 to 132

12:30 PM - MSNBC is reporting that the House has approved a bill that will allow the Social Security payroll tax to remain at low rate and extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to survive during the economic crisis. 

The following MSNBC article provides more detail on the House action and what it means for the country:

Biden: 'Today We Made Good on That Overdue Promise'


Vice President Praises Spectrum Agreement to Safeguard First Responder Communications

The following statement was issued today by Vice President Joe Biden regarding the agreement:

"After 9/11, we pledged that our cops, firefighters and EMTs would have the technology they need to stay safe and do their jobs. Part of that promise included deploying a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for our first responders. Today we made good on that overdue promise. First responders put their lives on the line to protect us every day, and the least we can do is ensure that they have the dedicated bandwidth they need to communicate with each other.  It’s going to save lives and help keep our neighborhoods safe."

Click here for information on the agreement: Bloomberg Article on Spectrum Agreement

Image courtesy of http://www.gifs-paradise.com

First Anniversary of Libya’s Revolution

The late Muammar Gaddafi, former Libyan leader

Statement by Press Secretary Jay Carney

The United States congratulates Chairman Jalil, Prime Minister al-Keeb, and all the people of Libya on the first anniversary of their historic revolution. Last February, few could imagine that the peaceful protesters  in cities from Benghazi to Tripoli would bring down a four-decade-old dictatorship. Through their courage and great sacrifice, and with the support of the United States and an international coalition, the Libyan people defeated a brutal regime and won their freedom.

Today the Libyan people are enjoying new liberties, expressing themselves freely, debating new laws, joining civil society organizations,  and preparing for the first free and fair elections in the country’s history. Libya’s natural wealth can finally be invested in the people’s future.   Libya’s emerging democracy and its institutions will take time to build, and the United States stands ready to assist the Libyan people as they shape their future. The Transitional National Council and government should take full advantage of this historic moment by making decisions openly and transparently. The revolutionaries who fought so hard for liberty now have a responsibility to protect their freedoms by working with the government to establish stability, peace, and reconciliation. Protecting the rights of all the Libyan people will help preserve the unity of purpose that defined the revolution. 

We will never forget the voices, images, and sacrifices that we have seen in Libya over the last year, and we are grateful to the American service-members and civilians who helped save lives and stand up to tyranny. The United States was proud to support the Libyan people in their revolution last year, and looks forward to building a close friendship with a free Libya in the years to come.

Photo source: Department of Defense
Author: 
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released
Permission: Public Domain

Newsy Now: Latest Headlines

ICE agent dies after shooting at another agent; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist dies in Syria; German president steps down; pilot under drug probe.



By Christina Hartman and Steven Sparkman
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Amnesty International Report Shows Rampant Torture in Libya

An Amnesty International report claims the militia that helped topple Gaddafi regime is now engaging in widespread torture of former loyalist.



By Adnan S. Khan
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of Newsy.com 

Contraception Hearing Excludes Women

The House committee's hearing was titled, "Has the Obama administration trampled on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience?"



By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

New Study: Arsenic in Organic Baby Formula

A study released Thursday finds that there are concerning amounts of arsenic in organic foods including some baby formulas.



By Gina Cook
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Family Blocked From Burying Dad Next To Kids He Killed

Washington State Police Officers have purchased burial plots for Josh Powell's children in a graveyard separate from when Powell will be buried.



By Meredith Baldwin
Anchor: Emily Spain
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Reports Confirm Possible Peace Talks With Taliban

As Afghanistan President Karzai arrived in Pakistan there is cautious hope that peace talks with the Taliban could take place.



By Kevin Donnellan
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of Newsy.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Lady Surprises White House Tour Visitors

President Calls on Congress to Partner on Government Reform


Sends Congress the Consolidating and Reforming Act of 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – This afternoon, the Obama Administration sent Congress the Consolidating and Reforming Government Act of 2012, which would reinstate the authority Presidents held for decades to reorganize and consolidate the Federal government.  

To guarantee that government reorganization will always result in a more efficient government, the President’s proposal adds a new requirement that any reorganization plan must save money or reduce the size of government.

As President Obama first announced last month, the Administration’s proposal would allow the President to put forward, for expedited consideration by Congress, plans to consolidate and reform the Federal government for the 21st century, making it leaner, smarter and more consumer friendly.

President Obama said, “To support an economy that’s built to last, we need a government that’s built for the 21st Century. We cannot allow redundant bureaucracy and unnecessary red tape to stand in the way of creating good jobs here at home, providing critical services for America’s families, and exporting America’s goods and services around the world. That’s why today I am calling on Congress to join me in reforming our government by passing the Consolidating and Reforming Government Act.” 

In January, the President announced that, if Congress reinstates the authority to reorganize government, his first action would be to make it easier for America’s job creators to access the services they need to grow and export.

The President laid out a plan to bring together six agencies focused on business and trade and a handful of other related programs into a single more efficient and effective department with a laser-like focus on promoting American business and competitiveness, while saving taxpayers $3 billion dollars.

If Congress passes legislation providing consolidation authority, the Administration will continue to engage with America’s business owners, lawmakers, agencies and other stakeholders to develop a detailed reorganization proposal that will makes it easier for America’s businesses to succeed and provides a better value for taxpayers.

The Administration will also develop additional proposals to make programs more effective and eliminate duplication, overlap and excess overhead in other areas across the government, improving services for America’s families and businesses and saving billions more in taxpayer dollars.

Read the legislation HERE.

New Evaluation System to Hold New York Teachers Accountable


Groundbreaking Agreement Focuses on Improving Student Performance

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Commissioner John King, and New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi today announced a groundbreaking agreement on a new statewide evaluation system that will make New York State a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement.

The agreement gives significant guidance to local school districts for the implementation of a teacher evaluation system that is based on multiple measures of performance including student achievement and rigorous classroom observations.

The agreement follows through on the state's commitment to put in place a real and effective teacher evaluation system as a condition of the $700 million granted through the federal Race to the Top program.
 
"Today's agreement puts in place a groundbreaking new statewide teacher evaluation system that will put students first and make New York a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement," Governor Cuomo said.

"This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state's public education system, and I am pleased that by working together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement."

"The goal is and always has been to help students - to give them every opportunity to succeed in college and careers. To make that happen, we need to improve teaching and learning. We owe it to our students to make sure every classroom is led by an effective teacher and every school is led by an effective principal. Today, the Governor's leadership and his commitment to our students have helped us take a strong step toward that goal," said State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr.

New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi, added, "Teachers support high standards and accountability for our profession. We believe today's agreement is good for students and fair to teachers. It includes two principles we believe are essential. First, a child is more than a standardized test score. While there is a place for standardized testing in measuring teacher effectiveness, tests must be used appropriately. Secondly, the purpose of evaluations must be to help all teachers improve and to advance excellence in our profession. This agreement acknowledges those key principles. The settlement also reinforces how important it is for teachers to have a voice in establishing standards of professional effectiveness and in developing evaluations that meet the needs of local communities."

"This is very good news for the 1.1 million school children of New York City – and it will benefit students for generations to come. It will help us to create a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation system that will ensure that teachers who are rated 'ineffective' can be given the support they need to grow -- or be moved out of the classroom. I want to thank the Governor for his leadership on this issue, as well as Merryl Tisch, John King, and Mike Mulgrew, who were all instrumental in this process," noted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"The UFT and the Governor have reached an agreement on an appeal process for New York City teachers that includes the kind of independent, third party component that the UFT has been seeking. The appeal process will not go into effect unless and until Mayor Bloomberg negotiates agreement s with the UFT for an overall teacher evaluation deal and for schools eligible for School Improvement Grants (SIGs). I want to congratulate Governor Cuomo and NYSUT for their hard work in finding common ground on the statewide issues that separated them,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

“Their agreement recognizes that students are more than a test score. I want to thank the Governor for his efforts to find a similar resolution for the issues that separate the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg. Chancellor Walcott's asserted that the city needed to close 33 SIG schools because there was no agreement possible on an appeals process for teachers. That process has now been laid out for the SIG schools. Despite this agreement, Mayor Bloomberg still seems determined to close those schools."

Details of the plan are as follows: 

Teacher Performance – 60 points

Under the agreement, 60 percent of a teacher's evaluation will be based on rigorous and nationally recognized measures of teacher performance. The agreement requires that a majority of the teacher performance points will be based on classroom observations by an administrator or principal, and at least one observation will be unannounced. The remaining points will be based upon defined standards including observations by independent trained evaluators, peer classroom observations, student and parent feedback from evaluators, and evidence of performance through student portfolios. 

Student Achievement in State and Local Assessments– 40 points

Under the agreement, 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation will be based on student academic achievement, with 20 percent from state testing and 20 percent from a list of three testing options including state tests, third party assessments/tests approved by the SED and locally developed tests that will be subject to SED review and approval. Under the plan, school districts will also have the option of using state tests to measure up to 40 percent of a teacher's rating.

Rating System

The agreement significantly tightens the scoring system to ensure student achievement and teacher performance are both properly taken into account for teacher ratings. Teachers or principals that are rated ineffective in the 40 points could not receive a developing score overall. 

Ineffective: 0 – 64 
Developing: 65 – 74 
Effective: 75 – 90 
Highly Effective: 91 – 100 

Assigning a Curve for the Ratings

The agreement sets forth, for the first time, a standard for school districts and teacher unions to set the allocation of points or the "curve" for the teacher ratings. The curve must be allocated in a manner that a teacher can receive one of the four ratings, and the SED Commissioner will be able to reject insufficiently set curves. 

SED Commissioner Final Review

The agreement also, for the first time, gives the SED Commissioner the authority to approve or disapprove local evaluation plans that are deemed insufficient. This will add rigor to the process and ensure evaluation plans comply with the law. 

New York City Expedited Appeals Process

Today's announcement also includes an expedited and streamlined appeals process for the New York City School District that becomes effective on January 17, 2013 if New York City and the UFT agree to an overall evaluation system.
 

Image courtesy of 
http://www.cksinfo.com/