Archives For standardized testing

UNITY DOMINATED UFT DELEGATE ASSEMBLY VOTES FOR MINOR TWEAKS IN THE TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM WHILE MORE CAUCUS CALLS FOR REPEAL OF EVALUATION LAW

 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?
 

One exciting and quick way to support MORE’s work is by asking your school’s UFT chapter to vote on endorsing our petition for a moratorium on the new “Advance” teacher evaluation system.

We’re all fed up with “Advance,” and all the teachers I’ve talked to wish the UFT was doing more to oppose this system and stand up for a better one.  My chapter was so excited to hear about this way of pushing the UFT to act that they suggested voting to endorsing this petition right after I showed it to them in our union meeting.

I wanted to make sure everyone had time to read up and consider their options before a vote though, so I sent them an informational e-mail, and we scheduled a secret-ballot vote for the next week.  Teachers cast simple paper ballots, they were counted by an impartial committee, and then my chapter leader and I composed a letter like the one below.

Voila!

It only took about 30 minutes, and my chapter is excited about their involvement in our fight to build a stronger union and a better evaluation system.

You can also take a vote to endorse at your next chapter meeting.

We will present the petitions and chapter endorsements at the November 20th delegate assembly, when we raise a resolution calling for a full repeal of this flawed evaluation scheme that was imposed on us.

Let us know your chapter endorsed our petition by emailing us at [email protected]

Moratorium endorsement model

Date
(school name)
UFT Chapter
On (date) we, the UFT chapter of (insert school name here), voted to formally endorse MORE caucus’s Petition for a Moratorium on the “Advance” Teacher Evaluation System.
 The chapter endorses this proposal and encourages our leadership to act quickly in the face of actions that jeopardize our profession and our students’ quality of learning.
Fraternally,
(name)
Chapter Leader 
(name)
Chapter Delegate
 

submitted by Megan Moskop- Teacher/ UFT Delegate at M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal

"don't be scared to resign, commisioner king: there's a juicy job chilling for Pearson waiting for you"

Selling Out New York’s Children Is Bound To Be Lucrative

Too Little, Too Late

October 16, 2013 — 3 Comments
"Too Late, Mike. NYC educators trust MORE"

but, it’s just the way the city is implementing the plan, right?

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.
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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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"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.

Ideas and Resources to Facilitate Participation in MORE’s October 9th
Win Back Wednesday Day of Action

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