Archive for the 'Teacher Evaluation' Category

Blue Senate

It is urgent that we take advantage of this moment of financial improvement in New York State and the change in the political landscape in Albany. We should not wait for the next contract period in to see changes that are crying out for improvement.

Teacher Evaluation – The current teacher evaluation system was dictated by state law – a law that we should repeal and replace. Student test scores should be entirely removed from the teacher rating process.

Pension Reform – It’s an opportune time to press our elected friends that we’ve helped put in office to: CALL FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PENSION TIERS. We’ve done it before. We can’t have this multi-tiered system which makes for tremendous inequity between members and costs such financial disparity.

Single Payer Health Care – The United Federation of Teachers is on record supporting a single payer system, but our leadership and Michael Mulgrew have claimed that this just means “Federal Single Payer” and they are opposing single payer in Albany. New Action supports single payer at the federal level AND at the state level.

New Action to Run Slate in Spring UFT Elections

Priority Issues

Fight administrative abuse – Defend Chapter Leaders, Probationers, and ATRs

Last year NEW ACTION and MORE brought Chapter Leader after Chapter Leader up to UFT Executive Board meetings to speak up against the 200 or so Principals and Administrators who are making life hell for UFT members. These included Chapter Leaders from, CPE 1, Tottenville High School, and numerous members from the Adult Ed chapter, and teachers from other schools.

New Action supports a union led campaign against abusive administrators. We would bring back our Campaign for Principals in Need of Improvement (which Unity dropped without explanation)

The new contract has many more arbitration days. We need to ensure that these are used to fight abusive administrators.

In order to prevent the harassment of veteran staff the DOE must return to unit costing. The current teacher funding formula is a leftover from the Bloomberg/Klein administration. It encourages principals to avoid hiring experienced educators. This hurts principals, teachers, schools, and students. It’s time to end “Fair Student Funding!” The DOE won’t bargain FSF in contract negotiations? Then we should be pushing the issue outside negotiations, and joining with schools and community groups who are also being hurt by this process.

Provide basic rights to probationary teachers. Too often, these educators have been unfairly discontinued by their principals. Where a principal has shown questionable judgment, it is in our interest to challenge that judgment. Basically, probationers can be discontinued without cause. This is just not right or just.

 

Evaluation

End tying ratings to bogus test scores. –The recently concluded contract reduced the number of observations for highly effective and effective rated teachers to two a year. For Unity Caucus this was a big improvement since only a year ago their leaders were arguing that teachers wanted more observations.

Remove student test scores from teacher ratings.

Allow teachers to challenge the judgment of administrators – we must be allowed to challenge an observation that is wrong

 

Lower Class Size

We have been dragging our feet to long on this. There have been NO REDUCTIONS IN OVER 50 YEARS. In contract negotiations the UFT has pitted salary increases against a reduction in class size. Why wait to push for the implementation of the CFE court ruling.  How will conditions ever improve until we address this? We need to address class size outside of contract negotiations, and to involve parents and community organizations in this just struggle.

 

Segregation

Schools in New York City have become the most segregated in the nation. We have an obligation to remedy this situation. The DoE has ideas. The UFT needs to offering our own solutions.

We must also address the ongoing crisis of disappearing Black and Hispanic educators.

 

High Schools

Bloomberg, with Gates money, and Unity Caucus support, broke up many of our large high schools. Gates declared this experiment a failure, and walked away from it. Many neighborhoods in New York City are no longer served by an academic comprehensive high school that is large enough to provide rich academic and extra-curricular options. Teachers are denied the opportunity for the range of professional conversations that a larger department provides. Where mini-schools have obviously not worked, we should be urging the Department of Education to merge schools.

High school teachers formerly had borough-wide PD with teachers in the same subject area, with the possibility of a wide ranging exchange of ideas. High School teachers need these opportunities restored.

Regents Exam grading must be returned to the schools.

 

Improve Our Health Benefits

The newly concluded contract introduced 2-Tier system that places new members in HIP for the first year is a disgrace. In the next contract will the City and our union agree to put new members in an HMO for the duration of their probation? Our dental benefits are woefully inadequate! Why is there no coverage for implants? Shouldn’t deductibles be brought down?

And while we are glad to have won parental leave, the six weeks is just a start. We should be looking for more, for a more comprehensive and longer lasting leave that covers taking care of a sick parent or relative as well as childbirth.

Janus – It Takes a Fight to Win

This year the UFT and membership may face the most difficult year in our history with the adverse U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus case. We are convinced Chapter Leaders and activists in our schools will rise to the occasion and support our union by convincing every member to pay union dues. New Action is committed to make that happen.

But much more needs to be done to make this a reality. While the union has made considerable efforts to inform members about the benefits they derive from being members (specifically their efforts to set up committees in each school; sending activists to go door to door knocking, and using the NY Teacher to publicize the importance of the union to its members) they have missed the boat in key areas. UFT members want and need a more pro-active, militant response from our union. There is no simple solution but New Action offers a few for your consideration:

COMBAT ABUSIVE ADMINISTRATORS – Principals who harass our members and single out chapter leaders are a persistent problem in too many schools. The union needs to go after these abusers and let the membership know we will not tolerate this behavior. We have helped some members find support by appealing to the leadership at the UFT Executive Board. But members are too often rebuffed before they get there. The union, at every level, needs to take on abusive administrators.

INVOLVE MEMBERS IN A REAL CONTRACT FIGHT – The secret negotiations must end. Members should be involved any contract fight. What are the issues? We must ask school chapters to meet and hear reports on any progress! We must have them engaged in a real struggle.

UPHOLD THE CONTRACT – Principals are doing an end run around the contract. The union needs to consistently show it is there for us, has our backs. Too many administrators ignore our rights on programming, class size, professional assignments, etc. These should be challenged aggressively, individually and collectively. We must restore the right to grieve letters to the file.

ADDRESS THE PROBLEMATIC EVALUATION SYSTEM – Members have the right to challenge technical problems in APPR, but not the AP’s mistakes. And we know that administrators are often wrong – members need the right to challenge supervisory judgment. The number of observations is unnecessarily high: teachers who are year after year satisfactory need not be observed more than twice a year. But fundamentally the problem is deeper – ratings based on student test-scores are arbitrary and unfair. We need to repeal the State Law that established this.

END PATRONAGE – Hundreds are given part time union jobs based on membership in Unity Caucus. All they have in common is the agreement, when there is a vote, not to make up their own mind but to vote as Unity tells them. This system undermines members’ confidence in our union.

EMPOWER LOCAL LEADERS – Chapter Leaders (CLs) are volunteers. They are directly elected by their members. They should be the backbone of our union. But their representatives, the District Reps (DRs), are appointed by the President. They are responsive to 52 Broadway first, and issue directives to CLs. We should return to a system where DRs are accountable to CLs; we should return to the long-established practice of direct election of DRs by Chapter Leaders.

(from the September 2018 New Action Chapter Leaders Meeting flyer )

Where we agree, where we disagree

From New Action’s May 2016 Leaflet

Where We Agree

We agree that 200 lawyers at Tweed is about 200 too many. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that the current funding formula for schools makes no sense, that principals are forced to discriminate against experienced teachers, that schools, kids, teachers all get hurt. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that abusive and incompetent administrators are a problem. But we need leadership that restores and expands the Principals In Need of Improvement Program, resurrects the highly successful Organizing Committee, and targets principals who go after our members, leadership that brings the abusers to Fariña, sits down, and gets them out.

We agree that arbitrary extensions of probation are unfair. But we need a leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that parents have a right to opt their children out of tests. But we need leadership that actively informs parents of this right.

Where We Disagree

We disagree with a leadership that insists that student test scores be part of our evaluation.

We disagree with a leadership that is in love with the Common Core. We disagree with one-size-fits all in math, and we can’t believe that teachers are being stopped from teaching whole books and are limited to chapters or excerpts.

We disagree with creating separate, unequal “rights” for members in excess.

And we disagree with jobs and promotions being given out based on obedience to a caucus instead of merit.

Vote MORE/New Action

Combat Abusive Administrators – Return to Fair Funding! – Get rid of the Lawyers! – Protect Probationers

Protect ATRs – Fight for Union Democracy – End “Drive By” and “Test Score” Teacher Evaluation

Support Jia Lee, Opt Out Leader, for UFT President

For Appropriate Supervision

New Action introduced the following resolution at the April 18, 2016 UFT Executive Board. It was tabled to allow details to be reviewed and corrected. We expect a revised resolution to be brought forward at the May 9 Executive Board.

For Appropriate Supervision

April 18, 2016

Whereas both the Danielson Framework and Teaching for the 21st Century envision consistent conversations between teachers and supervisors; and

Whereas these conversations are informed by the content of the class and associated standards, by the curriculum being followed, by the students assigned to the class, by the pedagogical orientation of the school, and by the culture of the school; and

Whereas some supervisors have more knowledge of all or some of the content, standards, curriculum, students, school pedagogy and school culture than other supervisors; and

Whereas teachers should go through observation cycles with the leader of the school or the most appropriate supervisor available; and

Whereas there exists a class of supervisors – ATR Field Supervisors – who are disconnected from students, from content, from school-specific pedagogy, from school-specific culture and who thereby are unable to engage in the rich conversations envisioned both in the Danielson Framework and Teaching for the 21st Century; and

Whereas ATR Field Supervisors perform a function that others could more appropriately perform, and could be assigned instead to productive roles;

Therefore be it resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will convey to the Department of Education our concern that some teachers are being observed by other than the most appropriate supervisor, and be it further

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will immediately open discussions with the Department of Education to reassign administrators who are currently ATR Field Supervisors to appropriate assignments, and be it further

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will feature a series of New York Teacher and website articles on the appropriate role and function of supervisors in our school system.

Delink testing from evaluation!

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the March 2016 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2016 March 

Race to the Top (RttT) pushed states to adopt teacher evaluation schemes that included student standardized test scores as part of teacher evaluation. Bad idea.

Obama’s new Education Law (ESSA), signed three months ago, drops this onerous requirement. So now is the time to fix this horrible mistake in New York State law, right?

Not so fast. The UFT’s current Unity leadership said: “We need to be cautious,” as they prevented the Executive Board from voting to lobby for change to NY State law.

AFT Connecticut and the Connecticut Education Association joined forces to change that state’s RttT law. Legislation left committee last week – the teachers’ unions got that done.

We have a joint resolution with MORE today to do that same sort of productive lobbying in New York. Please vote yes to allow this important discussion to come to the floor.

(Note – Even though many delegates voted to discuss this resolution, Unity Caucus managed to block discussion by about 70-30. Unity members are not permitted to think for themselves, but are required to raise their cards in unison.)

Get Test Scores Out of Teacher Evaluation

New Action urges: no test scores in teacher evaluation. Unity responds by not letting members vote.

At the January 11, 2016 UFT Executive Board meeting, New Action urged opposition to the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, and urged that we use the four year moratorium to lobby for a change in New York State Education Law to remove student test scores from teacher evaluation in New York State.

A Unity leader moved to table, and it was in fact tabled, on a caucus-line vote.

The difference is that we asked to take a stand against using tests to rate teachers, but Michael Mulgrew and Unity only want to delay using the tests, claiming against all evidence that it will be possible, four years down the road, to fairly rate teachers based on test scores. They want a pause (they have it), but they still favor rating teachers based on tests.

New Action continues to oppose rating teachers based on tests.


Content Policy

Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
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