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Judge allows release of 12,000 NYC teacher evaluations

By Logan Burruss, CNN
  • N.Y. Supreme Court justice: "This information is of interest" to many parties
  • Teachers' unions say reports were flawed, and should have stayed confidential
  • NYC Education Dept.: Reports are an apt tool for judging effectiveness
  • Schools "cannot bargain away" public access to public records, judge says

New York (CNN) -- A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled in favor of publicly releasing evaluation reports of 12,000 New York City teachers, despite opposition from teachers' unions who say the reports were supposed to remain confidential and do not accurately reflect teacher aptitude.

"Educational issues, including the value of standardized testing and the search for a way to objectively evaluate teachers' job performance, have been of particular interest to policymakers and the public recently," Justice Cynthia Kern wrote in her decision. "This information is of interest to parents, students, taxpayers and the public generally."

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the union behind the petition to remove teacher's names from the reports prior to public release, claims the reports are flawed and cites letters from the New York City Department of Education assuring their confidentiality.

"The reports, which are largely based on discredited state tests, have huge margins of error and are filled with inaccuracies," UFT President Michael Mulgrew stated Monday. "(They) will only serve to mislead parents looking for real information."

However, the New York City Department of Education claims that these reports clearly indicate a teacher's effectiveness, particularly "where teachers have performed consistently toward the top or the bottom, year after year."

In addition, Justice Kern addressed confidentiality concerns as being without merit, adding that "the Board of Education cannot bargain away the public's right to access to public records."

The New York City Law Department applauded the decision, stating, "The court has affirmed the City's belief that the public has a right to this information under New York's Freedom of Information Law."

The United Federation of Teachers announced Monday it will appeal the decision as soon as possible.