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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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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |