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Audio from Albany: Senate Education Committee Chair John Flanagan

As part of a regular weekly feature on the Politics Now blog, Tom Precious of The News' Albany Bureau posts an audio interview with a newsmaker from the Capitol.


ALBANY — If the fight in Buffalo schools has proven one thing, it is that the teacher evaluation issue — which state officials announced this spring with great fanfare — is far from a done product across the state's 700 districts.

The influential chairman of the Senate Education Committee, John Flanagan, said there are still a number of important issues to be flushed out. Not the least among them is whether to make future evaluations of individuals available to the public, or at the least, to parents.

"It's a very delicate balancing act," said Flanagan, a Suffolk County Republican.

The lawmaker, in an interview this morning, raised concerns about the extremely high margin of error rates already seen in teacher evaluations in New York City — and the ramifications that hold for trying to improve performance of teachers.

"I believe we have a lot of members who have concerns about putting a ton of information out there," Flanagan said of making teacher evaluations public. He raised concerns that some teachers might not go into certain challenging classroom situations, such as special education, in a system he said already sees an attrition rate of 50 percent after five years on the job.

Flanagan said the issue of what information, if any, about teacher evaluations will be made public is a matter likely to be resolved in the coming weeks before the 2012 legislative session ends in June.

But the respected lawmaker said there are still many issues to be resolved as districts across the state get down to work in the coming months to craft their own evaluation systems — which will need everything from the backing of teacher unions to the state education department."

"If it's done quickly and ineffectively then we haven't done our jobs. I would rather see everyone take the proverbial deep breath and have it done in a fashion that everyone can say, "All right, we had a few bumps in the road. We recognize those. We addressed them, and now we have a much better working system," said Flanagan, who first joined the Legislature in 1987.

--Tom Precious

Listen to the full conversation with Flanagan here:

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