Archive for the 'United Federation of Teachers' Category



Resolution on delinking testing from evaluation

New Action urges: delink teacher evaluation from test scores. Unity responds by not letting members vote.

The following resolution was presented by Jonathan Halabi (New Action) at the Monday, January 11 UFT Executive Board meeting. A representative from Unity moved to table (could be for future consideration, but usually this parliamentary procedure is used to kill a motion, but spares members their caucus on the board from voting No), and it was in fact tabled, on a caucus-line vote.

The speaker did not present a clear case (which we would otherwise report). In fact, the difference is that we asked to take a stand against using tests to rate teachers, but Unity only wants 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.

Resolution on delinking testing from evaluation

Whereas the US Department of Education’s Race to the Top forced states to adopt teacher evaluation schemes that included the use of student test scores, and

Whereas New York State adopted a new teacher evaluation scheme that incorporates student test scores, and

Whereas the test score component of a teacher’s evaluation is arbitrary, and varies more school to school than teacher to teacher, and New York State has refused to reveal how the test score component of evaluations are calculated, and in a decade of using such scores (including previous schemes) such schemes have shown no evidence that they can work, and

Whereas President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law, replacing No Child Left Behind and dropping the requirement that test scores be used in teacher evaluation, and

Whereas the New York State Board of Regents voted for a four year moratorium on using Common Core tests as part of teacher evaluation,

Therefore be it resolved that NYSUT opposes the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, and be it further

Resolved that NYSUT and its locals will use traditional media and social media to publicize this stance, and be it further

Resolved that NYSUT will communicate this opposition to all its locals across New York State, and to the AFT, and be it further

Resolved that NYSUT will use the period of 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.

Renewal Schools – Some Questions

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

This school year we have a new group of schools targeted for intervention. There are 94 Renewal Schools, mainly in poorer neighborhoods, chosen because of lower test scores.

The Renewal program calls for 1) transformation into a Community School, 2) creating extended learning time, 3) ensuring effective leadership and rigorous instruction, 4) performing needs assessments, and 5) “Bringing increased oversight and accountability including strict goals and clear consequences for schools that do not meet them.”

We understand the payments for extended time are being fixed. We have more questions:

  • What curricula are being used in Renewal Schools, and how is “teacher voice” being recognized in selecting and implementing them?
  • Some renewal schools are in shared buildings (“campuses.”) Is the scheduling flexible enough to work with the inherent challenges of sharing a building that was not designed to be shared?
  • Has Fariña assigned experienced, collaborative, successful administrators to the Renewal Schools? Some names stand out for lacking experience. Is this the exception, or the rule?
  • How does the UFT communicate with members in renewal schools?

Is it time to put large schools back together?

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

On June 1, 2015, New Action introduced a resolution (here) to consider the circumstances of campus high schools. In the last 15 years many of large high schools have been replaced with campuses of mini-schools, with swarms of administrators.

In swaths of the City, large high schools are gone. Middle schools, 6 – 12 schools, and even elementary schools share space with high schools. Science labs and music rooms are converted to classrooms in one school, while other schools teach chorus in regular rooms and science without labs rooms.

In many campuses there is little interaction between the staffs of mini-schools. School spirit often did not translate well to the campus. Some mini-schools have few tenured teachers – many chapters are weaker, many members do not know their rights, or are afraisd of excersing them. Yet there are positive exceptions.

The resolution called for the UFT to create a committee to look into these circumstances. How can cooperation between schools on a campus be increased? How can a greater sense of community be developed? How can some of our large academic, comprehensive high schools and CTE schools be reconstituted? The resolution also called for the committee to make recommendations to strengthen chapters and support chapter leaders in campus schools.

The resolution was tabled by Unity Caucus.

Support Tottenville Teachers, Standing up for Respect

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

UFT members want to be listened to. It is frustrating to be ignored. It is infuriating to watch bad ideas implemented without consultation. It is demoralizing not to be treated like professionals.

On Friday, May 29, from 7:00 AM to 7:30 AM, Tottenville High School teachers and supporters will gather in front of the school to say “Listen to us, Talk to us, Consult with us, Respect us.”

New Action encourages retirees on Staten Island and members in nearby schools to come out and support the Tottenville UFT chapter.

Winner-Take-All is Undemocratic

The United Federation of Teachers sends hundreds of delegates to the New York State United Teachers Representative Assembly and to the American Federation of Teachers Convention. And of those hundreds of delegates, all, every one, vote exactly the same way on every issue.

The UFT has Vice Presidents for Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, Academic High Schools, Vocational High Schools, non-DoE, Ed Issues, and Special Ed. All belong to the same caucus.

The UFT has 32 District Reps. All are appointed by the president, and belong to the same caucus.

We have a diversity of voices in the UFT, but they are stifled by electoral gimmicks and chicanery.

Each division used to elect its own vice president, but after New Action’s Michael Shulman was elected UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools in 1985, Unity changed the UFT Constitution to assure that it would not happen again. Ultimately they made the vice presidents “at large” to prevent a division from choosing its own VP.

The Chapter Leaders in each district used to elect their own District Reps, but Unity eliminated this 40-year tradition, and made the DRs presidential appointees. Who represents the voices of the chapter leaders? On April 7, 2014 the New Action representatives on the UFT Executive Board submitted a resolution calling for UFT District Reps to once again be elected by chapter leaders in the districts. Unity tabled the motion, arguing that appointment is more democratic than elections.

Our union’s strength is our membership. We rely on membership involvement. But by shutting down member voices, Unity has discouraged thousands of members from participating in the life of our union. This weakens us. New Action supports proportional representation for election of NYSUT, AFT and NEA delegates, we support a return to direct election of divisional Vice Presidents, and we support a return to election of DRs by Chapter Leaders.

Eliminate Abusive Administrators

Eliminate Abusive Administrators

Experience and research show that ONLY collaborative relationships in a school foster a healthy work environment, benefitting staff and students. Unfortunately many Leadership Academy principals hired by Bloomberg and Klein are not collaborative. They were hired to get rid of veteran teachers, U-rate staff members, deny tenure, harass chapter leaders and ignore the contract. This is unacceptable!

Chancellor Farina proclaimed that collaboration is one of the first orders of her administration. The word has not filtered down to principals. The number of incompetent principals in the system, according to Fariña, is over 300. Many are the same principals who are abusive of our members, other staff, or students. In an October 2014 leaflet, New Action highlighted two such principals. In late March New Action demonstrated against principal Namita Dwarka of William Bryant HS. But there are many more cases.

Campaigns against these abusers are needed. Can you imagine conditions so bad that your colleagues are too scared to complain? These are schools where the union should be going in, where the leadership should be addressing the problem principal directly with the Chancellor.

Tell our leaders, restore the PINI  (Principals in Need of Improvement), a campaign initiated by New Action and instituted by our union. We must stand by our beleaguered members.

And if you are in a school with an abuser: Contact your District Rep. Contact New Action. Read “A Primer on School Change” (UFT website). Read “14 Ways to Get Rid of an Abusive Administrator” (New Action website).

note:
For years the UFT ran a Principals in Need of Improvement program
Unity abandoned this campaign last year

 

Support the I Refuse Resolution

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

 

New Action supports putting the I Refuse Resolution on this afternoon’s agenda. To be clear, the “I Refuse” speaks to supporting parents who opt their children out of State testing. It does not speak to teachers refusing to do any part of their jobs. Additionally, New Action supports widely distributing the NYSUT “Opt Out of State Tests Fact Sheet” to educate members and parents about rights and consequences vis a vis state testing.


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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