Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mulgrew's Forked Tongue and How Far Will Mulgrew Capitulate to NYS on Evaluations?

Wed Night at the Ed Blogs: How Far Will Mulgrew Capitulate to NYS on Evaluations?

Perdido Street wrote of UFT president Michael Mulgrew that has given his assent to the idea of Governor Andrew Cuomo resolving the evaluation impasse between the New York City Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers. But we need some clarity, both in terms of understanding what Cuomo is proposing, and in terms of what UFT president Michael Mulgrew is agreeing to.

1) Cuomo said that the state, meaning his State Department of Education, will impose an evaluation system. Note how this is being reported, not just at the Perdido Street blog, but by the major news outlets, this excerpt from the WNBC-TV site:
"The impasse must be resolved," the Democratic governor said Wednesday. He would direct the state Education Department to devise a system, then impose it on New York City's 75,000 teachers.
2) Mulgrew, on the other hand is casting the state role as simply being the arbitrator. Note what he is saying in his Dear James letter, re-printed at the ICE blog:
Governor Cuomo said today that if the city won’t come to a teacher evaluation agreement with the UFT by a set date, he will direct the State Education Department to set up a binding arbitration process that will get us to an agreement.
So, critically, Mulgrew is speaking with a forked tongue. For Albany and media consumption, he is saying that he is alright with a Cuomo initiative on this. Yet, to his Chapter Leaders, he is stating that Cuomo is merely sustaining the collective bargaining process. Mulgrew, you cannot have it both ways, an executive decision, imposed by fiat, and a collective bargaining process. In classic fashion, in his erstwhile defense of the Value-added-based evaluation system as being good for the children, Mulgrew is absorbing the UFT into the chorus pushing for evaluation “reform.”

Accountable Talk had a very good critique of the significance of Cuomo's mistake and the UFT's responsibility going forward.
But Governor Cuomo said today that he might just push an evaluation system through the legislature and impose it on NYC by fiat. In other words, Cuomo said he is willing to override the agreement we came to via collective bargaining, which was no agreement. This is in direct contradiction to the framework to which he and the union agreed last year.
The UFT should be up in arms about this. Our Unity leadership should point out that collective bargaining yielded no agreement, despite the fact that they were willing to meet the city more than halfway. Unity should be fighting to uphold the integrity of collective bargaining, the one essential element of this evaluation framework.

(Accountable Talk also upbraided Mulgrew for his capitulation to Cuomo's takeover stratagem.)

Democratic deformers, in the body of DFER and E4E having the ear of Cuomo? Prior to Cuomo's proposing the state takeover of the process, the Democratic deform lobby, as Gotham Schools reported, first pushed this takeover:
It’s not the first time that a state takeover in evaluation planning was floated. Last year, more than a dozen education reform groups, including StudentsFirst and Democrats for Education Reform, asked Cuomo to give the state authority to adopt a default plan for districts that didn’t have a deal in place by a certain deadline. More recently, groups that have spent months lobbying locally for a deal have given up hope and called on Cuomo’s intervention.
Of course, Mulgrew would be relieved to have Cuomo resolve this conflict. Then he wouldn't have to take personal responsibility and worry about the growing number of MORE supporters rallying outside UFT headquarters. Thus, we must say, No to Mulgrew's capitulation to the high-stakes test-based evaluation juggernaut. As EdNotes says, this is Petainesque capitulation to discredited junk science. The ICE-UFT blog has made the added point that the deeply problematic Danielson Frameworks are being snuck in (outside of membership-approved collective bargaining, and via another Unity-pushed capitulation, we might add --see this ICE-UFT post) across the city, and that we should be mobilizing the UFT membership.

Show us the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)! No to secret negotiations and agreements. Let the members vote on the evaluation system. No concession to state-imposed replacements for collective bargaining! Sign the petition to the NYC DOE and the UFT to Show Us the MOU (on the evaluation system).
A new teacher evaluation needs to be fair and be a source of support to the classroom.

On January 17, 2013 United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew stated "last night our negotiators had reached an agreement — but Mayor Bloomberg blew the deal up in the early hours today." What were the details of that agreement that was supposedly reached?

Mayor Bloomberg responded there “were unreasonable demands being made by the United Federation of Teachers. Among the contentious issues was the union’s demands that the evaluation deal sunset in June of 2015." What were the other demands and issues?

Leo Casey, negotiating for the UFT, wrote on “During the last week, as the UFT and the DOE met long into the night in an effort to reach agreement on the terms of the MOU, we asked, again and again, more insistently at each turn, to see the DOE’s draft of their application. It was not until late into Wednesday evening, barely 24 hours before the deadline, that the DOE finally gave us their draft of the application. When we read the draft, it quickly became apparent why they had resisted sharing it with us. Included in the draft were numerous scoring tables and conversion charts which the UFT was now seeing for the very first time. These tables and charts were very important: embedded in them were fundamental decisions about the shape of the evaluation system.“ What are the details of the scoring tables and conversion charts?

Why won't the DOE and UFT share the details of what each side is proposing? The teachers, students and parents deserve better than to be kept in the dark.

Show us what's on the table. Show us the MOU.

-Movement of Rank and File Educators
"I believe if teacher accountability & evaluation is so important in this day and age, then so should transparency be for any deals being discussed by the DoE and UFT. NYC parents deserve at least that because of the effect on their children." --One Queens commenter at the petition site.
UFT members should expect MORE.

MORE Caucus' statement on Mulgrew's cave-in to Governor Cuomo on evaluations:
Mulgrew Surrenders OUR Collective Bargaining Rights

In a recent email to chapter leaders, Michael Mulgrew stated that he welcomes Governor Cuomo’s involvement in forcing an evaluation system on NYC teachers. At a time when teachers are under attack from many quarters, it seems inconceivable that the UFT leadership would cede its bargaining power to the State Education Department. Mulgrew expressed his relief that should talks once again stall, the governor and the SED, “people who actually understand education”, will be involved. Our teachers, the ones who really understand education, will be left out of the decision making process.

We should remember that it was Mulgrew’s willingness to sign on to the state’s Race to the Top application that got us here in the first place. The UFT agreed to allow teachers to be evaluated by student test data in exchange for a promise of $700 million which has yet to reach city classrooms.

We at MORE categorically oppose any evaluation system that includes flawed student test data as a component. We also reject the virtual elimination of tenure that would result from the proposed evaluation system, in which teachers would be presumed incompetent based on that faulty data.

Mulgrew also states in his letter that we need this agreement so that we will not “risk further loss of state money.” In truth, the state is under no obligation to withhold any funds and is only doing so to force an agreement. Worse still, the state has threatened to take Title I funds from our neediest students in the absence of a deal, showing their contempt for students as well as teachers. Rather than submit to such blatant blackmail, the UFT should be rallying against attempts to rob our poorest children for the sake of pleasing education reformers.

Furthermore, the UFT has sent out District Representatives to schools claiming that not enough teachers are found unsatisfactory [first reported in "On the Coming Teacher Evaluation Sell-Out," December 7, 2012 at Accountable Talk blog] and “that has to change.” If the purpose of the new evaluation deal is to help teachers improve and “help teachers help students”, as Mulgrew claims in his letter, it should be focused on giving support to teachers, not on getting them terminated. It is MORE’s position that it is the union’s obligation to protect its members. We should not collaborate with the city in its attempts to fire teachers at will, nor cede our power to the state. Any data driven evaluation system coupled with a weakening of tenure will surely lead to more firings.

It should also be remembered that any new evaluation agreement was supposed to be coupled with a new contract. Not only have teachers been without a contract or a raise since 2009, but this latest capitulation by the UFT basically gives away our strongest bargaining chip in our ongoing contract negotiations.

If there is to be a new evaluation system, it must be fair and ensure the rights of teachers. It should be collectively bargained and subject to the vote of the full membership as dictated by the law. We, the teachers of the UFT, are the ones who “really understand education” so we must be fully engaged in any process that will impact our practice and our profession.

We should not submit to blackmail or an assault on our collective bargaining rights.

Read MORE's platform; and its Vision Statement on Positive Alternative Leadership.

For more behind the issues in the value-added factors and links to analyses detailing the junk science features, see the post earlier two weeks ago, "One Thousand Evaluation Petition-Signing Teachers Can't Be Wrong --The Real Story Behind the Evaluation Talks Collapse."