New Action Opposes the New Teacher Evaluation Plan at the June 3 UFT Exec Board

On Monday, June 3, 2013, New Action co-chair, Jonathan Halabi spoke against the newly imposed teacher evaluation system announced by New York State education commissioner John King. King stated that the new system would make it easier to fire teachers with poor evaluations. Mr. King stated that, “New York is not going to fire its way to educational success.”  Does anyone feel assured that the 300-400 abusive administrators in the system will not feel empowered to “fire its way to educational success?”

A History of Opposition

New Action has opposed linking student test scores to teacher evaluation and tenure decisions. Ever since January 2010 when the AFT President Randi Weingarten said she  supported Race to the Top and that standardized test score and other measures of student performance should be an integral part of the evaluation process, New Action highlighted the danger of this thinking. New Action supported Michael Mulgrew when he responded to Weingarten  by saying, “Her proposals would require a climate of collaboration and trust that simply does not here (in New York City).”

New Action  has repeatedly pointed to the dangers regarding basing student performance. We argued that two years in a row of “ineffective” ratings could lead to a 60 day termination process—no matter how senior the teacher, no matter how experienced, no matter whether they have tenure.”

The Money was Never There for Education

New Action pointed to the fact that the supposed $700 million dollars are not targeted for schools. That’s right—not to prevent budget cuts, not to avert layoffs, not to reduce class size, but rather for consultants, test designers, outside agencies which will decide who stays or goes (called validators). In other words, this is a gigantic snow job meant to deceive the public ,as well as ,educators.

Our union leadership and President Mulgrew find themselves in a bind. They have to sell this package and are already doing so by pushing the notion that the new teacher evaluation system is good for educators. They will make a full court press to say while this will be a difficult path, we will get it straight in the next collective bargaining agreement- after Bloomberg leaves office.

Did the UFT get Pulled into This Mess?

The truth is that the UFT should have pursued their original hostility to Race to the Top. Whether Mulgrew was pressured by Weingarten or not is “water under the bridge.” We are strapped with this disaster in the making. After all, if the UFT KNEW that  Bloomberg could not keep any agreement with the UFT, why did we sign off on Race to the Top  at all? Surely, the leadership should have known that they would not come to an agreement and one would be imposed. That is exactly what happened.

In other words, we did not get pulled into this but rather supported it from its inception (after the initial reservation Mulgrew expressed).

Beware Danielson and Teacher Evaluation

In October of 2011 New Action said, In the hands of administrators who do not collaborate, this framework becomes a weapon pointed at us.” Although President Mulgrew was a major supporter of Danielson, in the schools UFT members have had a different opinion.

New Action continues to be extremely concerned. We are concerned about who is evaluating us and what are their credentials. Will outsiders evaluate teachers? Are administrators with little or no teaching experience qualified to evaluate us? And what about new principals who have been trained at the infamous Principal’s Leadership Academy? Will these “leaders” who have been reared in the school of “ignore the contract,” harass veteran teachers, call legal and deny every grievance, demand that probationers be extended, fit to evaluate teachers now that we longer have 3020A to protect us?

The UFT leadership is holding out the possibility of renegotiating the system. They are discussing this today. Before King’s system is implemented. They already know it will need to be changed. So do we.

Our opinion has not changed. This new evaluation system will lead to an avalanche of ineffective ratings! It weakens tenure. We will spend years coping with the effects.

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