Sunday, June 2, 2013

NY Regents' Imposed Evaluation for NYC; Buffalo's Eval MOU; How Mulgrew Needs to Stand Up to Cuomo

So, Andrew Cuomo's John King and his New York State Education Department have issued New York City specific teacher evaluations. Already Perdido Street, NYC Educator, Accountable Talk, NYCDoENuts, ICEUFT blog, and EdNotes have highlighted parts and opined on them. I won't play a ranking game; look at all of them. This is an important change on our working conditions.

Shame on United Federation of Teachers (UFT) president Michael Mulgrew. For he cheered governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to impose an evaluation system.
And don't forget- the resolution between the UFT and the New York City Department of Education was by state fiat. This is outside of contract collective bargaining procedure. The Unity/UFT should have sought arbitration.
And he penned onto the disastrous evaluation system at its genesis, with the APPR factor, when three years ago he joined on with New York's Race to the Top application. See here and here.

Why did they rush to agree to an imposed system? That implies that Mulgrew and the UFT are OK with any idea that New York State Education (NYSED) Commissioner John King and the Board of Regents concoct. In some ways, the system that King and the Regents have imposed is the toughest in New York State.
Mulgrew will spend today with his staff, as he said in his letter 3 days ago. Of course, we can anticipate that he will be prepping staff to put a positive spin on this monstrous disaster.
Hundreds of cities --not merely Buffalo-- across the state have side agreements to their evaluation schemes, including stipulations that the evaluations will not be used punitively, that is, in line for teachers to lose their licenses. Back to Buffalo whose evaluation I discussed on Thursday. The memorandum of Understanding (MOU; see here, here and here) the Buffalo school district and the Buffalo Teachers Federation stands in stark contrast to what Mulgrew has conceded to. It guarantees against its punitive use for termination, it factors in student student absenteeism, by degrees of absenteeism.

(On the other hand the Buffalo plan has some flaws --see above links. It makes principals and teachers develop a schedule of student growth goals, akin to the SLO targets that NYC DoENuts refers to, with graduated indexing by factors of students with disabilities (SWDs), English Language Learners (ELLs) and the proportion of students living in poverty. It is unrealistic for teachers to perform as metricians to gauge how students in these categories can change their performance.)
For a fun Buffalo blogger writing in a wildly irreverent Gonzo style, see these posts by B-Lo Ed Scene, writing on Cuomo going nuts over Buffalo's MOU here and here. His most serious one is a fine send-up of how the Republicans on are a crazed Benghazi non-corruption, non-crisis frenzy against president Obama, and how their and the media's non-crisis obsession is a direct parallel to Obama's (and of course Cuomo/King, by extension) endless manufactured emergency war of terror against teachers, see Public School Teachers Feel Your Pain Mr POTUS, which leads with a poster graphic: "Is your child a libertarian?."

Look to what Mulgrew and Unity/UFT have conceded to, the Regents-imposed evaluation system for New York City, released last night.

DANIELSON CHECKLISTS, CRITICIZED BY DANIELSON AND UFT IN 2011, ENDORSED THIS SPRING BY THE UFT Note how the UFT protested in November 2011, but keep in mind that this spring it asked for 22 checklist elements from Danielson's Framework:
When the UFT obtained a copy of one of the checklists, it shared it with Danielson herself to get her thoughts.
Danielson was troubled by the checklists and disapproved of them, union officials said. With that endorsement, UFT Secretary Michael Mendel wrote a letter to the DOE and demanded an immediate end to the practice. He even threatened to cut off negotiations toward a larger evaluation deal that is required by the end of the school year.
. . .
The checklist she saw, Danielson said, was inappropriate because of the way it was filled out. It indicated that the observer had already begun evaluating a teacher while in the classroom observation. She said that’s a fundamental no-no.
The Regents imposed system is one of the toughest in New York State. Again, evaluation systems across the state have side agreements that are more sensitive towards the myriad factors impacting on educational performance. Alone among the hundreds of New York state municipalities only New York City and Syracuse are the only systems that will use student surveys. As one teacher that posted at the Movement of Rank and File Educators UFT caucus Facebook page, "'The new system also includes a pilot of student surveys.' Fantastic. This encourages grade-inflation and a lack of discipline in the classroom." What is behind the Regents' drive for this stipulation? Will the UFT be intellectually honest about how mistaken it was to include student surveys? (Remember, all the Democratic candidates for New York City mayor will lift the cellphone ban.)

The student survey element is a curve-ball that has only recently come up under public discussion, which previously has focused on VAM/high-stakes tests and qualitative (Danielson Frameworks) evaluations. Back in February Gotham said such surveys were unlikely. UFT Secretary Michael Mendel, to his credit, has been on record criticizing student surveys. The Gotham article quoted him:
UFT Secretary Michael Mendel said the union’s position is that it is inappropriate to ask students to make high-stakes decisions about their teachers, because it puts the students under pressure and also could encourage teachers to put student approval ahead of student learning.
“Could you imagine if you were a teacher and you were ineffective by a point or two because you were rated ineffective by the children?” Mendel asked.
Jersey Jazzman, with tongue in cheek, shows how farcical it will look when youths will write evaluations of teachers.
But my favorite is when he shows what a student wrote in response to Merryl Tisch's saying that a Long Island student that threw up during the state tests was healthy. See this post for the full story on Tisch's non-chalance during this episode. (Remember, she's the major campaign aide to Bill Thompson, the NYC mayoral candidate that the UFT is grooming to endorse on June 19.)

Of course, this would reverse numerous pro Regents-imposed evaluation statements by Mulgrew and long-standing UFT policy of blind obeisance to whomever's in power or viewed as costing to power (e.g., Thompson), especially if they are a Democrat, but this is what Mulgrew and the UFT should do: *Challenge this evaluation system in court. No to evasion of collective bargaining.
[UPDATE: ICEUFT Blog reports that there are legal grounds for the UFT to appeal this:
The UFT would have to argue that King exceeded his constitutional authority, which would be a tough standard to meet but otherwise expect a new universe when we return in the fall.
*While Cuomo did not write this evaluation system, he was the one that decided that the evaluation system would be deferred to the Regents. On what legal authority did he take it upon him self to do this? True, King wrote this, with the Regents, but Cuomo is 100% aligned with King. It is time for teachers to pull their support for him.

A century ago, labor movement pioneer Samuel Gompers advocated that unions should reward their friends and punish their enemies. The UFT wants us to support Andrew Cuomo? He has the greatest contempt for New York City teachers in particular. No Committee on Political Education (COPE) dollars to education deformer in chief governor Cuomo!

UPDATE: One blogpost commenter's statement on how the struggle needs to reach beyond the big cities, and reach to the parents:
I was hoping that the URBAN teachers were not going to have to fight this battle alone. I was hoping that when the silent majority of SUBURBAN teachers realized that the APPR was going to unfairly affect their jobs, as well as ours,
we would then achieve some solidarity and strength in numbers. THEN it would be "game on". Two of our local suburban districts, admins and board members, have publicly and in writing complained about testing and tying the tests to evaluation of teachers. THOSE are the districts where the parents are also complaining about the
effect of the insane testing on their students. They GET IT. And as soon as they would begin to see their beloved teachers mysteriously disappearing from the profession due to high stakes test data, they would call a halt to the Commissioner Boy's silly games.
But no. Once again, the urban teachers will have to fight this battle and suffer the legal consequences. Don't forget, we will have a new Board made up to teacher bashers and haters. They, and Albany are hoping (salivating, actually) that Buffalo will strike, so they can swoop in and waterboard us. Maybe make us sit in a hot summer school cafeteria and listen to Bob Bennett and his Commissioner Puppet do their ventiloquist act via skype? (Because we all know that the Little Commissar, er Commissioner, is afraid to travel to Buffalo without his Daddy Bob.)
Urban parents have had their leadership, DPCC, hijacked by Buffalo REform Ed and the like. The leader of Buffalo ReformEd, James Sampson, will possibly be on our School Board. The Chameleons Polowitz and Friedman are highlighted in is fundraiser photos on his facebook page. Here is a blurb form one of Sampson's supporters:
"We will never change public schools from a gulag of sub par education until we make the purpose of public schools education rather than a secure jobs program for people not qualified to teach."
We urban teachers now need strength and solidarity. We need to ally with our other urban districts so as to not make this just about BUFFALO. We need to make this a STATE issue. We need allies and support. We need informed teachers.
I'll end now. In the eyes of our new Board members, I am just another Sub Par Gulag worker who is not qualified to teach.