UFT, Let’s Join NYS in Cancelling Overall Ratings This Year

As reported on the ICE blog, NYS has passed a bill in both houses that allows districts to waive APPR (teacher evaluations) this year. Last year, a similar bill was passed, but the Unity machine argued that we should have them in NYC anyways. I still remember the arguments: observations are good for tenure, we should be ‘proud’ that our observation system works unlike many upstate, and teacher evaluation is ‘good’ for our professional growth. So, I suspect Mulgrew and co. will make the same arguments this year.

Those arguments, of course, are nonsense. If you’re at a school where observations are generally fair, you might not be aware of the problems with APPR. But those of us working in schools with weaponized observations or maddening MOSL flukes know the issues. Our teaching evaluation system has been bad even in a good year. Observations are easily abused by administrators targeting teacher unionists, and MOSL is arguably junk science. Add to that that this year, teacher observations were arguably a public health hazard , because they dictated group learning strategies during a pandemic.

Unlike last year, this year abusive principals finally have a chance to get back at teacher unionists they’ve been unable to penalize with fabricated ‘Developing’ ratings. This year, if you are being retaliated against with weaponized observations, you’re subject to the craps game that is our junk-science MOSL system. That means that next year, many of our unionists will be on TIPs and face legalized micromanagement. They’ll also face the possibility of losing their jobs if they have another unlucky year or two in a row. Other teachers off the radar will also be casualties. And that’s because, unlike last year, when we were able to use a ‘citywide’ MOSL measure that defaulted to Effective for every teacher that picked it (and basically everyone did), this year the MOSL is back in its old ‘individualized’ fashion.

Teachers are rightly more afraid of the MOSL than usual this year. In high schools, Regents have been gone for so long that we have no idea what to expect with many students taking them for the first time. That goes double for teachers of upper-level subjects like Algebra II, who fear that students who had Regents waived for both Algebra I and Geometry, might not have actually been prepared to take the Regents for the first time in the culminating subject. With students taking these tests again for the first time in years, it’s absurd to be using them to evaluate teachers as part of the MOSL. We need to get a sense of what these tests will look like for students taking them ‘post’-pandemic, before we start allowing the system to come down on teachers because of aggregate student scores. So, let’s not be the only district in NYS to have teacher evaluations this year. This isn’t the year to open up the door for TIPs and the gateway to future ‘incompetence’ charges. Let’s cancel APPR this year, like everyone else in our state.

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