No Deal for Teachers or Students

January 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

Here’s the text of the video that the Unity Caucus of the UFT is airing on local television stations about the new teacher evaluation system:

Across the country — from Los Angeles to Newark to Washington — many districts have successfully negotiated new evaluation measures. There is simply no reason New York cannot do the same for its teachers. There is simply no reason that a city that has been at the leading edge on so many other things can’t lead on this.

It’s time…to put politics aside and agree to a fair evaluation system that gives teachers the support they need to help kids succeed. That’s the way to move our schools and our city forward.

In truth, only the second paragraph comes from the UFT video. The first? It’s part of a recent piece in the NY Daily News written by a member of Educator4Excellence, an astroturf ed reform group funded by hedge fund billionaires and Bill Gates. This same group has called for the end of seniority rights, tenure, and the current salary structure.

Why is our own union leadership beginning to sound so much like an anti-union education reform group? It’s difficult to say, but one thing is clear–the evaluation deal that is currently being pushed on our members is no deal for teachers and students.

Let’s look at what the “deal” entails:

  • At least 20% of the evaluation, and perhaps as much as 40%,would be based on student test scores. These “value-added” test scores vary wildly from year to year, and teachers who rank highly one year often finish in the bottom the next year. There is a margin of error of almost 60% in a single year using the VAM methodology, and at least 90% year over year. These tests were designed to measure student performance, not teacher effectiveness. Nevertheless, your career will hinge on them.
  • A teacher who fares poorly on the 40% of the evaluation that includes VAM test scores cannot be rated effective, regardless of how effective he or she is deemed to be by administrator evaluations.
  • The remaining 60% of the evaluation would be based on principal evaluations and other measures. In NYC, evaluations would likely be conducted using the Danielson Framework, a 57 page rubric that contains so many elements that it would be impossible for a teacher to be ranked effective on all of them in a single teaching period, or even over multiple observations.
  • A teacher rated ineffective two years consecutively will be subject to an expedited 3020a hearing within 60 days and to termination should the charges be upheld. Under the current system, the city must prove a teacher incompetent. The new evaluation system would require a teacher to prove his or her competence or face termination. How a teacher would establish competence has not been discussed publicly.
  • If your ineffective rating stems from principal harassment, your odds of getting a fair hearing are slim. Only 13% of cases may be selected for review, and the union gets to decide who gets a hearing. The other 87% of teachers will have to take their chances.
  • Tenure will effectively be a thing of the past, as two negative evaluations will mean termination, regardless of how many years of excellent service you have rendered to the city.

The DOE will receive $250 million if the UFT agrees to this system. At this point, it’s unclear how much of that money, if any, would be earmarked for teachers, supplies, class size reduction, or anything else; meanwhile, teachers have been waiting for a fair contract since 2009.

Worst of all, children will be harmed should this deal come to fruition. NYC schools will resemble test prep mills even more than they do now. A well-rounded curriculum will be sacrificed in the name of test scores. Even the best teachers will be apprehensive of taking on challenging students for fear of a poor rating–and these are the kids who need our exceptionally talented teachers the most.

Surely, the mayor, chancellor, and ed reform groups intent on weakening teachers’ rights will welcome such a deal, but the question remains: Why is the current UFT leadership pushing for the agreement?

When union leaders and ed reform leaders start speaking the same language, it’s time to reevaluate who is working in our best interests. MORE has a better way.

MORE is tired of the current leadership surrendering our rights. We oppose the collaboration and capitulation that has led to this volatile situation. It’s time for us, as a powerful and united force, to oppose the agenda of the ed reform movement.

To be clear, MORE opposes ANY teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores and faulty value added measurements.

If you agree, please join us, and spread the word to your colleagues.

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One response to No Deal for Teachers or Students

    EDWARD GREENSPAN January 7, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Wake up. Principals will make sure that teachers they don’t like receive the most challenged students. Then, they can just sit back and watch the poor results come in and use this for instant dismissal. There will NEVER be effective evaluations until you clear up the disciplinary problems in NYC schools. Teachers who have the top students will coast through this system. Others will be shown the door in June. Start teaching in NYC schools and see what it’s like. I did for 33 years.

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