By Brooklyn Reader

March 31, 2015, 5:56 pm

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The Alliance For Quality Education(AQE) and the Education Law Center (ELC) are fighting the education slice of the $142 billion state budget that links $1.4 billion in increased spending to reforms in teacher evaluations to the bitter end.

“The assembly fought hard on behalf of schools,” said AQE Executive Director Billy Easton of the budget, which is expected to be passed tonight. “The school aid increased significantly as a result. Some of the worst things in the governor’s original proposal were beaten back such as tax credits for contributions to private schools and more funding for charter schools. The evaluations for teachers is better, but there’s still too much emphasis on testing,”

Easton said it’s also good that the State Board of Regents will determine the final evaluation criteria as the board is controlled by assembly appointees and not the governor.

Easton’s comments came following several emails from the organization saying they strongly oppose any linkage between the education funding and teacher evaluations – a point that Cuomo insisted on throughout the budget process. The point was reiterated by ELC, who sent a letter to the senate and assembly leadership today noting that withholding any school funding for any reason including teacher evaluations would be in violation of the Campaign For Fiscal Equity lawsuit that found poorer public school districts are being shortchanged in education funding and have to be funded equally.

United Federation of Teachers spokesperson Dick Riley refused comment until the final budget package is passed as there are still some moving parts to it. He did note, however, that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said today there would be no linkage between the funding and teacher evaluations.

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