Archive for the 'tenure' Category

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

Discontinued Probationers

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June June 2015 Leaflet Front

This year New Action/UFT members have been meeting with discontinued probationers, UFT officials, and representatives of Chancellor Farina to discuss unfairly discontinued probationers. We made some progress: under Klein, these teachers could apply to work under another license or in another district, but when a principal offered them a position, the DoE would start a lengthy investigation – most schools hired someone else. These investigations now take a day or two; some probationers get new positions.

But there is a much larger problem – abusive and incompetent administrators. New Action/UFT has been in the forefront of this fight. Where a principal has repeatedly shown questionable judgment, it is in our mutual interest, the DoE and the UFT to challenge that judgment. This is not happening.

When an administrator is abusive – and there are too many absuive principals and APs out there – part of that behavior included bullying new teachers. We need to have the offenders’ bahavior corrected, or need to have the offenders removed. Reviving the “PINI” – Principals In Need of Improvement campaign would be a good first step. Unfortunately, there has not been progress on this front.

Cuomo’s War on Educators

Andrew Cuomo got much of what he wanted in his attack on NY state’s teachers.   Tenure now will take four years. Fifty percent of our ratings will be based on standardized tests that our students take. It will be quicker to fire teachers. This set of changes is designed to “churn” teachers, to make teaching a short-term career – in some places. Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Cuomo’s partner, made clear which places do and which places don’t deserve experienced educators – April 1 she proposed exempting top (affluent) districts from the new evaluation system, and the next day she proposed exempting high-performing NYC schools.

It’s not just teachers who Cuomo targeted – the new system will lead to many more tests for our students.

It is impossible to ignore the role of our union’s leadership in this. The NY Daily News reported: “city lawmakers said they were told by Mulgrew’s team that voting for the package would not be held against them.” On March 29 Mulgrew e-mailed the membership, claiming victory. Once members learned the details, he backpedaled. On April 1 he sent out a correction.

New Action applauds the acts of protest and solidarity against Governor Cuomo’s “educational reform.” 150 schools linked arms around their schools. We must build so next time 1700 participate. But it is hard to get behind a campaign that says 50% tests is too much, but 40% is ok. The vast majority of teachers know that evaluating us based on test scores makes no sense. It is time for Unity leadership to discard its discredited, pro-testing stance.

Note:  
September 2014 New Action moved to
endorse Zephyr Teachout in her race against Andrew Cuomo.
Unity blocked this endorsement.

 

Discontinued?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June 2014 Leaflet Front and back

During the last decade under the Bloomberg / Klein administration principals have been given much greater power and autonomy. As we know too well, many principals have abused this power. One form of abuse was the unjust discontinuance of probationary teachers. In some cases principals replaced probationers with hire friends or relatives. In others, incompetent principals erratically and arbitrarily fired young teachers, without reason.

There are discontinued probationary teachers who have other Principals willing to hire them but they are barred by the NYC Department of Education. The Unity leadership of our Union has not intervened. New Action / UFT calls upon our Union to press the new City Administration to reopen these cases. Let’s support our most vulnerable members.

Coping with the new teacher evaluation

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

Coping with the new teacher evaluation

The system is here, like it or not. We are immediately faced with complexities: school-based committee to choose local measures, organizing 30 hours of PD next year, advising members on observation options, teaching members about professional conferences, domains, components, artifacts. Soon we will need to learn about how ratings are calculated, how test scores trump all, and the consequences for Ineffective Ratings, and, critically, for Developing Ratings.

Our Chapter Leaders need concrete information so we can properly participate in implementation, and assist our members. We need to know what to do if our principals don’t adhere to the rules. We need a central hotline for questions.

There will be time to point fingers. There will be time to write puff pieces. That time is not now. Now is the time to figure out how to protect our members and their rights.

 

Teacher Evaluation and Binding Arbitration – No Way to Go!

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the February 2013 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT 02/2013 leaflet

“Cuomo told Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew that if they can’t hammer out an agreement for an evaluation system by Feb. 22, he’d submit an amendment to his new budget plan giving the state Education Department authority to impose its own evaluation system on New York City educators.” (New York Post 2/4/13) The article further states that, “Last week, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a strong teachers-union ally, and the leaders of the Senate made clear that they’re ready to back Cuomo in imposing a settlement on the city.”

UFT President Michael Mulgrew welcomed Governor Cuomo’s involvement. According to the New York Times (1/30/13) President Mulgrew is quoted as saying, “…while we would prefer a negotiated settlement, it’s good to know that should talks fail again, people who actually understand education will be part of the decision making process. ” “Parents need to know that, thanks to the governor and the legislative leaders, there will be no further  risk of the loss of state money for our schools.”

This is disastrous on a number of accounts. Firstly, binding arbitration on the teacher evaluation system is a disgrace. Our union should never agree to have the state intercede and impose a settlement on our working conditions. Secondly, if the UFT leadership believed it was impossible to negotiate with Bloomberg (and that is all too evident) they should never have agreed to push for Race to the Top. We might as well have asked for the State to impose an evaluation system. Thirdly, the Race to the Top monies (750 million) will be used to implement a teacher evaluation system (ie. money for consultants, validators, test design, and coming up with systems to evaluate teachers, etc.) WHAT A SCAM! And to tell the public education is losing hundreds of millions!

New Action opposes binding arbitration. PERIOD! We oppose any new evaluation system that uses test scores (up to 40%) to rate teachers. Perhaps it’s too late to avoid this trap but members should know when they’re being sold a bill of goods.

New Tenure Plan

You Could Be Removed (after 2 years) before the Letters in Your File (after 3 years)

New Action opposes the teacher evaluation system just proposed by the Board of Regents, with support from the NYSUT and UFT leaderships.

The proposal would base a significant part of each teacher’s rating, up to 40%, on test scores. We do not believe that even the best test of student achievement can provide an accurate measure of teacher effectiveness. But in New York State, where we know, and our union has repeatedly told us, the tests are broken?  Or, in New York City, where the City tests and Acuity tests are even worse?  Basing ratings on any tests would be bad enough, but on these?

The proposal would invest even more importance in standardized tests than they already have.  There would be pressure on teachers to do additional test prep. There would be pressure on teachers to inflate grades. Principals are already pressured by the poorly named Progress Reports to inflate grades, to play with numbers, to cheat. This proposal would establish that as the norm, would create schools and districts where the test scores and how to inflate them become the common culture. Our children our already over-tested.

The UFT just passed a resolution against extending testing down to K – 2. We should not be giving the state or administrators more reason to test kids, more reason to push teachers to teach what’s on the test rather than teach what the kids really need.

The proposal would change satisfactory and unsatisfactory, S and U, to “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective,”  and “highly effective.” 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.

Back in January, in the face of similar proposals, made by AFT President Randi Weingarten, Michael Mulgrew wrote:

[these] proposals would require a climate of collaboration and trust that simply does not exist here.

Hundreds of schools have abusive administrators who are making life hell for our members. We have witnessed the drive to harass and get rid of senior teachers. We have witnessed new teachers being pitted against our veterans. The Bloomberg/Klein push to fire last years U-rated teachers and all of our ATRs FIRST is part of the picture. Will these same administrators now be “fair minded? Collaborative? Will they craft a fair “corrective” plan for “ineffective” teachers.

If we, the UFT, fought these changes, and they were forced on us, that would be different. If we brought our strength to bear, and tried to back the Regents down, but did not succeed, that would be different.

We voted for the Michael Mulgrew who stood tough on school closings. For the Michael Mulgrew who drew a line in the sand to protect ATRs , who fought school closings, and who stood up to Bloomberg and Klein. We expect nothing less on teacher evaluation and tenure.

Our union must step back and withdraw support from this proposal.

  • Say yes to protecting tenure.
  • Say no to more testing for kids.
  • SAY NO TO RATING TEACHERS BASED ON TESTS!