Archive for December, 2013



Good Riddance Bloomberg – Good Riddance to Working without a Contract

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2013 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: December 2013 Leaflet

Good Riddance Bloomberg – Good Riddance to Working without a Contract

Members are rightfully disgusted with the NY Times editorial (12-2-13). The Times echoed Bloomberg’s call for a wage freeze for three years followed by two years of 1.25% each. The rest of the editorial covering seniority, ATRs, firing teachers, and “flexible schedules” was outrageous and right out of the corporate reformers’ playbook.

Money: UFT members are owed a 4%, 4% raise from 2009 to 2011, as the other unions already received (increases after 2011 still need to be negotiated with Mayor de Blasio.)

Retroactive Pay: Retro negotiations must cover all who worked during the years covered.

Givebacks:  Since no other union was asked for givebacks, that is the pattern. Period.

Report from UFT December 9 Executive Board

Open mike – no speaker.

President’s report. Mulgrew was present.

Everyone is asking him first who the Chancellor will be. He said BDB has his own process, which we will let him go through. He rattled off five names in contention (Alonso, Cashin, Darling-Hammond, Farina, Starr). He said each of them had their supporters and detractors. And that none of them was a corporate reformer. Mentioned that Henderson is one, but that BDB interviewed her for political reasons. 

There will be a debate at the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday – what should the system look like (structurally). (Followed by a resolution for voting in January)  120 principals signed a letter asking to keep the networks. Out of 1800 principals. And some of the signers were not aware that they had signed. But these are networks, such as the one for Consortium schools, that are actually supporting their schools. They have good networks.

There needs to be an Office of Teaching. The Office of Accountability should be staffed with 3 people, not 360. We already have state and federal accountability. (In response to a comment from the floor) – Legal is all Ivy League lawyers. Do you know how much they are costing us?

There was a meeting in the Bronx this (Monday Dec 9) morning with chapter leaders, principals, superintendants, DRs… discussing evaluations.

These is Bloomberg’s time to trumpet his educational triumphs, but it is falling flat. Even the Post ran an editorial challenging his graduation rates.

People think everything will be better on January 2. Won’t be so.

Staff Director’s Report (LeRoy Barr)

LeRoy spoke about last Thursday’s rally, and Monday’s Reclaim the Promises event.

Questions

I  asked the only question:  First I asked if Mulgrew would be back (he was not) then I asked how would the debate Wednesday be organized, and could we see the recommendations in advance. Emil Pietromonaco answered that there would be a bulleted list. And about getting that list before the DA, I don’t think he answered.

Reports from Districts

Janella Hinds reported in more detail about the event in the Bronx held earlier Monday (see above).

George Altomare reported on an upcoming Per Diem Cttee event on Affordable Health Care, and on a social studies pd event.

Legislative Report – Paul Egan was present, but there was no report.

Special Orders of Business

There was a “Transition Report” on the agenda. Turns out it was already covered, that was what Mulgrew was doing under the President’s report.

There was a resolution to honor Nelson Mandela. Sterling Roberson spoke, followed by Anthony Harmon, George Altomare, Mel Aaronson, and LeRoy Barr. It passed unanimously.

Mike Shulman was not present – but I wish he was there, so he could have talked about divestment, about how Teachers Action Caucus (one of New Action’s predecessors) began a grass roots postcard campaign to get the UFT to divest our pension funds from South Africa, and how this minority cause came to become UFT policy.

New Action Caucus has ten seats on the UFT Executive Board – the only ten seats that do not belong to Unity Caucus.

Ten is not enough to win anything – but it allows our voice to be heard, it allows us to put forward resolutions, and when there is agreement, to put forward resolutions the leadership signs onto. It allows us to offer amendments. It allows us to bring issues to the leadership.

At Exec after Exec, Unity members sit and listen. Some never speak. Most rarely speak. But New Action usually has questions, comments, resolutions, or amendments.

This year we will publish reports – sometimes on the entire Exec Board, sometimes just on New Action’s contribution.

SHOULD TEACHERS’ RATINGS BE BASED ON STUDENTS’ TEST SCORES?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the November 2013 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: November 2013 Leaflet

The Teacher Evaluation Train Wreck is Unfolding Before Us

SHOULD TEACHERS’ RATINGS BE BASED ON STUDENTS’ TEST SCORES?

From Requirements of Education Law Section 3012-c:

“Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from classrooms.”

This means that a teacher rated “ineffective” on both State tests and Local Measures must be rated “ineffective,” even if the principal finds them exceptional in the classroom.

New Action has opposed the Teacher Evaluation System since its inception.

Rating teachers based on using some form of the Danielson model is one thing. To tie our evaluation to student test scores is unacceptable. To have in State Law that a teacher’s rating can be based entirely on test scores is outrageous.

On Oct. 21, 2013, the 10 New Action members of the UFT Executive Board proposed:

Resolved the UFT will make it a legislative priority to remove from NY State Law any provision that makes it possible to rate a teacher ineffective entirely on test scores.

Resolved that the UFT will discuss this priority with the Mayor-Elect, in order that we might jointly lobby the New York State Legislature to effect this change.

The UFT Should Address State Education Law, 3012-c

This reasonable position was tabled by the rest of the union leadership. Their substitute resolution calls for expanding MOSL to include student work, including projects and portfolios, calls for a review process for teachers who get “Ineffectives” on local and state measures to see if the local measures were “appropriate,” “fair” and “reliable,” and calls for a moratorium on “high-stakes consequences” for state tests.

This does not go far enough. While these proposals, if negotiated with the DOE, would bring some relief from this evaluation system, they do not address the real problem: ANY EVALUATION BASED ON STUDENT TEST SCORES will not improve teaching. It will not improve our schools. It will not improve the education of our students.

The biggest difference between the New Action resolution (tabled) and the substitute resolution?  The substitute does not address necessary changes to the State Law that established this evaluation system. The legislation itself must be changed.