Archives For October 2013

One of the defining features of mayoral control in NYC under Bloomberg has been a sharp decline in the hiring of Black and Latino educators since 2002. The pattern is shown in statistics released by the DOE to a reporter in 2009 (reprinted below).  The DOE has not released updated numbers as of this writing.
In response to this disappearing of Black and Latino educators, the UFT Delegate Assembly passed a resolution in 2011 (reprinted below).  To date this resolution has not been publicized among the membership nor have the resolves been carried out.

We urge the UFT leadership to carry out the resolves passed at the Delegate Assembly now!

Data on new hires (pdf)
RESOLUTION PROMOTING DIVERSITY IN THE NEW YORK CITY TEACHING FORCE  (passed by UFT Executive Committee November 2010 and UFT DA January 2011)

WHEREAS, it has been a long standing policy of the UFT to support the existence of a diverse teaching force, both in the interest of equity and because education research has consistently proven that African-American and Latino students who have had teachers of color as positive role models achieve greater educational progress; and

WHEREAS, a study of the UFT Committee on Civil and Human Rights found that in relation to the numbers of African-American and Latino students in New York City public schools, African-American and Latino educators are dramatically underrepresented; Continue Reading…

October Meeting

October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment
"MORE General Meeting october 11 2013"

Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get Busy!

RSVP Now!

By: Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher/ UFT Delegate
P.S. 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

My students did not take the news about the Performance Assessment well. In fact, it was kind of a wrenching experience- their faces could not have been more pained if I had run over their dogs.  I told them that it would not count on their report cards, that it would not affect their middle school prospects, and that if they did their best, I would be proud of them. Still, there was a lot of anxiety, and an unplanned Q & A session that went well beyond morning meeting time. I didn’t want to scare them, but nor did I want to lie, and there is no getting around the nature of what they would be asked to do. I got questions like “can I ask for help with hard words?” and “what if I don’t know what to write?” that I had no reassuring answers for.

The Performance Assessments thrust upon nearly all students in certain grades and selected students in others are similar to what my kids dealt with on last year’s New York State Common Core tests. Two complex texts, and a prompt calling upon my students to synthesize both texts into an essay. I am called upon to turn off all my training and experience and pretend that these are tasks at which my students can realistically be expected to succeed.

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"MORE General Meeting October 19, 2013"

MORE’s October General Meeting

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[MORE's statement on the UFT leadership's change of position on testing is followed by James Eterno's full report on the Delegate Assembly]

Yesterday the Unity and New Action caucuses put forth a resolution that was passed at the Delegate Assembly calling for a moratorium on high stakes decisions for the state tests this year. While we applaud the effort to stop teachers from having their evaluations tied to flawed exams as well as a curriculum and evaluation system that has been poorly implemented and largely unsupported, we have serious reservations about the resolution as it stands.

The resolution accepts Common Core Standards and the structure of the teacher evaluation system, including the use of Danielson. These current policies are harmful to our students and our teachers.

Further, the resolution offers no plan in terms of member-driven input and action to fight the destructive policies we face nor regarding the effort to stop these policies’ high stakes impact.

MORE stands firmly in calling for a moratorium on the current teacher evaluation system until an alternative that is rooted in research and what teachers, parents, and students know results in effective teaching and learning is thoroughly negotiated, vetted, and voted on by our members. Positive alternatives exist.  We need our union to stand firm in demanding a system that benefits students and supports teachers.
Continue Reading…

Support of Union Leaders is Sought in Call for Moratorium on New NYS ‘Test-Prep’ Teacher Evaluation Scheme

MORE and Change the Stakes Team Up for “Win Back Wednesday” Rally at UFT Delegate Assembly, UFT Headquarters, Oct. 9

 For Immediate Release

NEW YORK — On October 9th at 4:00 p.m, activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters to protest the emphasis on high-stakes testing that education advocates denounce for harming students, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by two grassroots organizations: the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), known as ‘the social justice caucus’ of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who oppose reducing education to the pursuit of higher standardized test scores.

According to organizers, the rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because public education must be “won back” from the profit-driven entities behind high-stakes testing and school privatization schemes and returned to actual stakeholders: parents, students, and educators. Wednesday is the monthly UFT Delegate Assembly, when representatives elected by rank and file educators from every school in the city traditionally meet to vote on key decisions.

Organizers are hopeful that union leadership will change course, breaking alliances formed in recent years with self-described education “reformers,” whose agenda typically focuses on increased high-stakes testing and privatization of public schools. To highlight growing opposition to these policies, UFT members throughout NYC will wear anti-high-stakes testing stickers and buttons in their own schools on October 9th, and then gather for a united rally at UFT headquarters downtown after school.

“Our children’s education should never be thought of as ‘common’ or ‘standardized,’” said Mike Schirtzer, UFT delegate and MORE member, referring to the new Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation system. “Recent educational policies have put a dangerous emphasis on high-stakes testing. The results? A narrowed curriculum. A climate of fear and competition in our classrooms. Students learning to bubble in the right answer, not how to think critically.”

“All too often, our leadership has been complicit in this assault on educational quality and equality,” Schirtzer said. “As the nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can and should lead the charge for real innovation in schools. Rank and file teachers and public school parents want leadership to say loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok. We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be a leading voice for real reform.”

Rally organizers will call on union leadership to demand a “real path to better public schools,” including reduced class sizes; a renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, and physical education; and funding for afterschool programs and wrap-around programs.

Jia Lee, NYC public school teacher and parent worries that, “Standardized testing only gives my son’s teacher this information: if he answered an item correctly or incorrectly. In my son’s school, mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning; it’s never punitive as in these new high stakes tests. He doesn’t need the burden of thinking that his incorrect answers will cost his teacher her job.”

“While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new ‘reform’ policies,” Schirtzer added, “our children lack the services they deserve and our educators enter their fifth year without a contract. The UFT leadership must use its power to say ‘enough is enough’! We are calling on them to join us in telling the public, politicians, and those that say they care about education that our children, teachers, and public schools are more than a test score!

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By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Delegate

Leon M. Goldstein High School- Brooklyn

2013 MORE Vice Presidential Candidate for UFT

 

On October 9th at 4:00 p.m., activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters (52 Broadway NYC) to protest the emphasis on high stakes testing that is harming our children, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by the grassroots organizations of Movement of Rank & File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who refuse to allow their children to be measured by standardized test scores.

 

The rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because it’s time for public education to be reclaimed from the profit-driven “reformers” and returned to the real stakeholders; parents, students, and teachers. Our children’s education should never be thought of as “common”, “standardized”, or “data-driven”. Recent educational policies that have swept our city and nation have put an emphasis on high-stakes testing that narrows curriculum, turns teachers into test-prep machines, and takes the fun out of learning. Common Core standards, Danielson rubrics, and value added measures are untested, unproven schemes that have been developed with little to no input from public school teachers or parents. It’s time for us to take back our schools from those who seek to exploit our children. Public education should never be a for-profit endeavor- it should be  the foundation of a community where children feel secure and receive an education that provides an opportunity for them to develop critical thinking skills and express creativity.

 

We are joining together to let the public know that our teachers, students, and public schools are “MORE than a SCORE”. The new evaluation system called “Advance”  is rating teachers based on test scores for courses they don’t even teach. There is no conclusive evidence that rating teachers based on test scores will make them better instructors or have a positive effect on our children’s education. The worst part of the new evaluation scheme is that 40% of a teacher’s rating will be based on test score growth, algorithms that have never been proven to accurately determine if a teacher is “effective”. 40% or not, New York State Education Commissioner John King has declared that any teacher who is rated ineffective on the test based measures will be rated ineffective overall. Our education leaders have somehow decided that 40% equals 100%.

 

Common Core standards and the new teacher evaluation system have led to a proliferation of testing that is having a terrible effect on our youngest students. Children enter school with a natural curiosity to learn about the world we live in, but constant preparation for, and execution of standardized testing takes has taken that from them. Students need to have a chance to develop skills, and we must engage them in their innate love of learning.

 

When many veteran teachers entered the public school system the emphasis was on helping students to foster their “multiple intelligences” and talents. Learning was designed to be differentiated based on student’s individualized needs. Now our school system has fallen under the dark cloud of standardized testing and “one size fits all” standards which wrongly assumes that all children learn the same way. This is a tragic turn in public education, driven by nefarious preference for profits over what’s best for our children. While corporations and consultants makes millions of dollars, our students are conditioned to take tests, not to provide solutions to real world problems. This is not what education is about, nor can our democracy thrive or survive if this trend continues.

 

We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be the sole voice of real reform. As nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can lead the charge for legitimate educational innovation ensuring that the real stakeholders- parents, students, and teachers – have a voice in how to best educate our children. We will be there to urge  the UFT leadership to join us in calling for a moratorium of the new hastily implemented evaluation system. Instead of a champion for the Common Core standards and “Advance”, rank and file teachers and public school parents want an advocate for children that says loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok.

 

We need our union  leadership to call for real reform, smaller class size, renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, physical education and funding for afterschool programs. While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new “reform” policies, our children lack the services they deserve and our educators enter their fifth year without a contract. The UFT leadership must use its power to say “enough is enough”! We are calling on them to join us in telling the public, politicians, and those that say they care about education that our children, teachers, and public schools are more than a test score!

Details and Facebook Link Here

"You can't close your door and teach your kids when the education deformers are already inside your classroom"

“I’m Not Political” is not going to help your students.

Lisa North

Teacher/Delegate

PS 3 Brooklyn

As s member of the  2007 UFT Task Force on Testing, I find it unconscionable that our current UFT leadership has agreed to an evaluation system that uses test scores to evaluate teachers when their own 2007 Task Force  on testing states clearly,”Do not use student test scores to evaluate teachers. The use of data from student test scores on standardized tests to evaluate teachers may appear simple, be intuitively appealing, but it is wrong.”

 

It was our UFT leadership that made the agreement with Albany to use test scores to evaluate teachers and in fact to this day they say that it is good to use test data in our evaluations.  Yet, in their own Task Force on Testing they stated that  there is NO research that shows that  a single test should be used to evaluate teachers or students.  Read this section taken from the report:

 

“Professional organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of English and the National Parent Teacher Association, have all come out against high stakes testing. The American Education Research Association has stated that tests are always fallible and should never be used as high stakes instruments.

Yet wrongheaded proposals from (former) Chancellor Klein, elected officials, corporate heads and other non-educators who do not understand the limitations of the test data continue to call for the misuse of student test scores in order to make important decisions about children as early as kindergarten. They are also proposing misusing these test results as an evaluative tool for teachers, as a factor in determining teacher salaries and as a basis for granting tenure.”

 

Only a few years after their own report, it was the UFT leadership, not Joel Klein and corporate leaders, that signed on to something that they know is not a valid way to evaluate teachers.  It is time for the UFT leadership  to join with community and education groups that are already fighting back against the the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, students, and schools.  Students are harmed when the curriculum is narrowed to subjects that are tested.

Please read the full report from UFT task force here

http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/uft-report-2007-04-high-stakes-testing.pdf

 

If you believe teachers are “MORE than a SCORE’ and the new evaluation system needs to be halted immediately, join us for our day of action on 10/9 Win Back Wednesday! There will be a rally at UFT headquarters at 4:00pm on 10/9 at 52 Broadway NYC. Let’s remind our leadership of the findings of their report

http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/09/26/day-of-action-toolkit/