UFT Rejects Repeal of Evaluation Scheme

November 21, 2013 — 12 Comments


 By James Eterno
Chapter Leader- Jamaica High School
The positions of the two main  caucuses (political parties) within the UFT on the topic of teacher evaluations emerged clear as day at Wednesday’s UFT Delegate Assembly in Manhattan.  Michael Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus passed a resolution calling for small changes in the teacher evaluation system called Advance to be negotiated with the new mayor. On the other hand, the Movement of Rank and File Educators introduced a resolution calling for a full scale repeal of the evaluation system law (Education Law 3012c) that ties teacher evaluations to student test scores. 

Most of the Unity dominated Delegate Assembly, including a huge group of retirees who do not have to work under the new system, agreed with the President that evaluations only need to be tweaked but there was strong support for  MORE’s position to scrap the whole system among the Delegates.

As usual, President Michael Mulgrew ignored Roberts’ Rules of Order in conducting debate.  No speakers were permitted to oppose a Unity Caucus resolution reinforced the UFT’s support for the evaluation law.  However, the UFT is calling for a moratorium on using the results of high stakes tests for teacher evaluations until alterations to the local portion of the Measures of Student Learning portion of the system can be worked out in contract negotiations.  The Unity sponsored resolution was on the regular agenda.  It was introduced a few minutes after Delegate Megan Moskop from MORE introduced a resolution for next month during the new motion period calling for the UFT to support legislation to scrap the entire teacher evaluation law.

When Megan raised the MORE resolution, Mulgrew had no choice but to allow her to speak on its behalf as it she had obtained the floor.  In Megan’s speech, she emphasized how using high stakes tests to evaluate teachers is a huge step back for the teaching profession, our members and the students.  Megan skillfully pointed to some of the points made by Mulgrew in his Presidents’ Report about how misuse of standardized testing and education profiteering is bad for kids as well as teachers.

MORE also had excellent literature in support of this resolution which noted that the UFT had a task force report in 2007 that completely opposed  using high stakes tests  in any way shape or form to evaluate teachers. MORE also was highly critical of the Danielson observation system in the resolution saying it “subjects teachers to a cookie-cutter observation system that limits professional autonomy and reduces teaching to a series of numbered scores.” Megan received energized applause when she concluded her remarks by saying teachers need a voice and that the entire 3012c law needs to be repealed.

When Megan finished speaking, UFT Vice President Janella Hinds rose to defend the evaluation system law.  Janella said that MORE misunderstood the new system as it rates teachers based on multiple measures which the UFT likes.  This was also emphasized in the Unity Caucus literature that was handed out before the meeting. Janella argued that the new system took the power to rate teachers negatively out of the exclusive hands of principals.  She added that we do not want to go back to the old system where ratings were exclusively the purview of principals.  In addition, Janella objected to the criticism of the Danielson framework which she claimed was not part of the evaluation law. She also disagreed that tenure was weakened under the evaluation law as she pointed out that each teacher rated ineffective would be visited by an independent validator the following year.

Janella also said that the problem was not so much the law as the Department of Education’s inept implementation of the law and that is why the UFT filed 17 grievances against the DOE on evaluations.  She closed by saying that how her students do on the Regents is a very important part of what she does and that MORE is trying to organize through fear which is not good. Her remarks were politely, if not enthusiastically, received.

When a Delegate raises a resolution for the following month during the new motion period, one speaker is allowed both for and against the motion and then it is voted on.  The Unity majority voted against trying to repeal the evaluation law.

Instead, they had their own resolution on the regular agenda that was introduced by Staff Director Leroy Barr several minutes later.  Leroy stated that even though the new evaluation system isn’t working, we can’t go back to the old system because we favor multiple measures to evaluate teachers.  He added how we have to fix what is broken in the new system by changing the way the local 20% of teacher ratings are measured.  He argued how we should be judged by student work including projects, group work and homework.  The Unity resolution is also calling for a moratorium on using standardized tests to evaluate teachers. 

Next up after Leroy was a Unity Delegate who told us that we have to stop worrying about being observed.  He claimed he wanted more observations.  (A big Unity theme of the day was that the observations have to be for support and to improve teaching).

At this point Mulgrew did his usual abuse of parliamentary procedure as someone called for debate to be closed.  Anyone who can read knows that Roberts’ Rules, the dictionary and common decency all tell you that it isn’t debate until both sides are heard.  According to brother Mulgrew, it is up to the body to decide if the minority should be heard so he allowed the Unity majority, including the large bloc of retirees who don’t have to worry about evaluations, to close debate.  The vote to tweak the evaluation system was largely in favor.  (I voted no.  Some Delegates who supported MORE’s call to repeal the evaluation law also voted for Unity’s resolution to tweak it. I guess something is better than nothing.)

There was another motion that called for an end to high stakes testing for grades Pre K to 2.  This was motivated illegally by Mulgrew from the chair and then by Vice President Karen Alford.  Mulgrew stated that both State Education Commissioner John King and Chancellor Dennis Walcott told him they were against standardized testing for pre K to grade 2 but Mulgrew went on to say that 36 schools were giving bubble tests to kids of this age and that he talked to a teacher who reported that some of these students could not even hold a pencil.

When the two officers completed their speeches, Mulgrew called on a Delegate who asked if tests to see how well English Language Learners understand the language would be included in this resolution.  Mulgrew did not know which prompted a retiree to move that the motion be tabled.  A motion to table is not debatable but since this was a Unity person who made the motion to table a Unity resolution, there was real confusion in the room. 

Unity people didn’t know what to do so Mulgrew once again ignored Roberts’ Rules by dismissing the voices yelling out that a motion to table is not debatable, as he allowed Leroy Barr to speak against the motion to table.  The UFT’s parliamentarian said nothing. After hearing from Leroy, the Unity majority killed the motion to table and supported the ban on standardized testing for our youngest kids.  (I voted for the ban for the record.)

President’s Report
UFT President Mulgrew called for a moment of silence for several UFT members who had recently passed away.  He then brought up on stage the people who were involved in making the new UFT TV commercial that he said received 200,000 hits on Facebook.
Teacher Evaluations, Excessive Paperwork, State of DOE & Transition to New Mayor,
The new teacher evaluation system a disaster as is excessive paperwork.  The schools are chaotic but the DOE is still hiring lawyers and accountability people even though they are on their way out.  Mayor elect Bill de Blasio’s people know the schools are in chaos and they acknowledge that other city agencies are in bad shape too.
Mulgrew then stated for the record: “God help the new Chancellor.”  The UFT is hoping for a quick transition; the process to pick the new Chancellor had not yet started.  Members need relief from overwork but the transition to a new mayor is an amazing organizing opportunity.  We can’t only be against what is going on but will have an opportunity to have an important role in creating a model school system.
DOE called on an outside group to evaluate the networks that supposedly support the schools and they concluded that the networks don’t work.  However, reorganizing what is by far the largest school system in the US is a massive undertaking. 
Arbitration on DOE mandating format of lesson plans will be held on Thursday.
Outside of New York City only 1% of teachers were rated ineffective in New York State.  Our enemies want 15% to be rated ineffective and want to know how only 1% of the teachers are ineffective if only 30% of the students are proficient on state tests. 
We are not going tack to the old teacher evaluation system.  Networks are telling principals different things concerning the implementation.. 
There needs to be a paradigm shift.  Administration’s job is to support teachers and we are there to help kids.
NYSUT Calls for Three YEAR Moratorium on Teacher Evaluation System
The President noted that our state union wants the evaluation system put on hold for three years. (That would seem to put the state union at odds with the city union that just wants the system tweaked. I must be missing something. I will try to clear this up.)
Common Core
NYC state lawmakers wanted to know why Commissioner John King was not holding hearings on Common Core in NYC.  Now there will be hearings in the city.
Common Core needs to be rolled out right.  Mulgrew is not sure if Common Core can survive if parents oppose it. Combining teacher evaluations and Common Core has resulted in a big mess.
Teachers were never supported properly supported but deserve proper support. 
December 5 Rally
UFT supports the New Day New York Week of Action from December 3-9 including a rally on December 5 at Foley Square.
SESIS Money Will be Going Out to Members
More money for doing SESIS work outside the school day will be sent to members in December.
Philippine Relief
City heavily recruited from the Philippines back in 2004. Thousands of our members have family members impacted by the recent storm.  They need medical help badly and the UFT will be sending nurses over there.
The Finish
There is a food and clothing drive ongoing, Over 1,400 people came out to honor Mel Aaronson for Teacher Union Day.
We need a shift from fighting what is wrong to leading the way to what we have to do to make the schools work. We want a happy opening to the school year in September of 2014.
Staff Director’s Report
Leroy Barr reported the following:
We rallied for Lexington School for the Deaf. 
We support the December 5 rally at Foley Square. 
Teacher Union Day honors the November 7, 1960 strike. 
The Staff Director asked the Delegates who walked the picket line in 1960 to stand and be recognized and they were applauded by the body.
Question Period
Question: City says there is no money for any raises.  How do we respond?
Mulgrew Answer: UFT and Principal’s Union are two main unions that did not receive the 4% and 4% pattern raises in the last round of bargaining but the city managed to find money for contracts for other unions after the collapse of the financial system.  It is amazing how the city projects annual $3 billion shortfalls and at the end of the year there are suddenly $ 4 billion surpluses.  We subsidize Wall Street investment banks. If the city just did the paperwork for Medicaid reimbursements, there is $600 million a year out there to be recovered.
Question: Administrators are doing multiple observations but are not reporting on positive visits, only negative reports.  What should we do?
Answer: An officer and the District Representative need to visit that school
Question: How would NYC teachers have done on state measures for 2012-13?
Answer:  8.6% of NYS teachers out of NYC were ineffective based on student test scores but only 4% of NYC teachers were ineffective. We have factors such as student attendance and others that control for the population we teach. We want class size to be a factor too.
Question: UFT created a math syllabus several years back.  Will we use it?
Answer: No.  It is not aligned to the Common Core.  We have to acknowledge that we are competing with other countries who are spending more on education.  There are 110,000 skilled jobs that can’t be filled in NYC because workers don’t have the skills.  Common Core is a good idea that is being hijacked by the corporations.
Everything Else
The new motions were on the week of action and scrapping the evaluation law.  Except for the resolutions already mentioned, the only other one covered was one opposing mandated lesson plans.  It carried unanimously.  Five other resolutions will wait until next month or will just become policy.  Who needs votes anyway?
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12 responses to UFT Rejects Repeal of Evaluation Scheme


    Once again the ATRS are left blowing in the wind. Did anyone mention that ATRs will now be observed and held to common core standards in classes where they don’t even know the students!


    Once again the ATRs are left out to dry. Is anything being done about the filed supervisors who are conducting formal observations (using common core standards) on ATRs. These ATRs are being observed in classes where they are being used as a substitute and do not know the students, their levels, or anything about the class. How is this fair?


    Principals are already picking teachers they do not like and rating them ineffective. This is a sham. Principal’s cronies don’t even get observed! Time to FOIL all observations.


    thanks to MORE for keeping us posted on these events.

    One day, we’ll be rid of Mulgrew and his party of collaborators with the system.


    Why isn’t there an evaluation system for principals?. Why can’t we the teachers rate them, and the test scores of the ENTIRE school be used to determine if they retain their job. They walk around with clip boards, ignore our contractual rights, verbally abuse us and demoralize us…but they keep their job…BS…I want the right to rate them and my rating be used as a means of hiring and/or firing them…


    The issue is not the Evaluation. If done correctly it can lead to a more effective way to improve our pedagogy. The issue is the way it is being implemented. UFT leadership is taking the Leadership role to make sure this evaluation is done correctly. They came into the Delegate Assembly with real solutions while MORE caucus had no solutions. If I remember correctly they said they don’t want to go back to what we had which is s/u but they want to slash this, without bringing to the floor an alternative. Constantly this group criticizes everything Unity puts forth but Unity is the only group with real solutions. We look to out leaders to lead us not constantly complain without having a solution. What’s even more interesting is watching MORE members supporting the resolution to strengthen the 20% local measures. It’s becoming more and more apparent that MORE looks to Unity for true leadership! I’m glad. When it comes to leadership MORE IS LESS!


    Respectfully I must disagree with you in terms of debate – no where in Roberts Rules does it say that you must have a speaker for and against – for that to happen implies that the chair knows what the speakers are going to say before hand – which is impossible – if you look at http://www.rulesonline.com/rror-07.htm it will outline this for you.
    Also, I must agree that with Jenelle Hines going back to the old system of how we were rated created an era of havoc on teachers where principles arbitrarily just gave you whatever rating they felt like without having any justification or cause. This new system at least gives us a fighting chance and while agreed it needs to be tweaked — throwing it out absolutely sends us back into a position of being left to the whims of people who at times have no educational background. Respectfully I think we need to continue to move forward rather than attempt to dismantle the system and divide our union.


    How dare they come into my room more than once-a-year to observe me. My room is my province, and they are the uninvited. Can I see samples of your students’ work? Of course, but that will be in a few days because of organizational issues. Do you think all students can learn? How would I be able to tell about yours? Be proud of who you are and what you do, for it is noble and honorable work. Let the masses see you and judge you. Clearly, new systems need to be adjusted, but they will. All of you who are afraid will shine, and this will pass. Thank you for your time.


      I agree, its great when an administrator who taught for 2 whole years and attended a webinar on Danielson rubric (with her entire year of teaching experience) comes into our rooms to evaluate us. they must be expert raters, after all the DOE says they are.


    I’m of the belief that one can complain, but there needs be a solution connected to the complaint. Otherwise, your complaints can come across as empty noise. We cannot ask to do away with an entire evaluation system without offering a clear alternative. If your position is to do away with what’s in place, fine. Please provide a viable solution. To date, I don’t believe I’ve read/heard one.

    As professionals, we should aspire to grow and progress in our craft. No teacher should object to this ideology. I stand that this evaluation-on the surface-is not a bad plan. However, the DOE has done a poor job in preparing its teachers and members with the proper exposure in order to conduct this system effectively. Asking for a moratorium on testing is a major step, i.e. a SOLUTION, to fixing the errors with our evaluation.


    This guy is wrong on two levels. First, Robert’s Rules clearly says that debate should not be ended until there is a speaker both for and against. Look up section 44 as( below). Second, to say that Mulgrew as the chair does not know what people are going to say is ridiculous. Unity caucus members sign a pledge that they will support caucus positions in public and union forums. If they don’t support that pledge, they are thrown out of the caucus. He only doesn’t know if one of us is going to be opposed to something. Chair is supposed to rotate speakers for and opposed to a question. Here is the dictionary definition of debate: “To discuss a question by considering opposed arguments.”
    The correspondent did not take a look at this follow-up rule:

    44. Closing Debate and Preventing Debate. When the debate appears to the chairman to be finished, he should inquire, “Are you ready for the question?” If, after a reasonable pause, no one rises to claim the floor, the chair assumes that no member wishes to speak and, standing, proceeds to put the question. Debate is not closed by the chairman’s rising and putting the question, as until both the affirmative and the negative are put, a member can rise and claim the floor, and reopen the debate or make a motion, provided he rises with reasonable promptness after the chair asks, “Are you ready for the question?” If the debate is resumed the question must be put again, both the affirmative and the negative. Should this privilege be abused by members not responding to the inquiry, “Are you ready for the question?” and intentionally waiting until the affirmative vote has been taken and then rising and reopening the debate, the chair should act as in case of dilatory motions [40], or any other attempt to obstruct business, and protect the assembly from annoyance. When a vote is taken a second time, as when a division is called for, debate cannot be resumed except by general consent. If two-thirds of the assembly wish to close the debate without allowing all the time desired by others, they can do so by ordering either the previous question or the closing of the debate at a certain time; or they can limit the length of the speeches and allow each member to speak only once on each question, as fully explained in 29 and 30. These motions require a two-thirds1 vote, as they suspend the fundamental right of every member of a deliberative assembly to have every question fully discussed before it is finally disposed of.

    James Eterno

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