Friday, October 28, 2011

Charlotte's Web - The Beat(down) Goes On

Published in The Wave, www.rockawave.com
October 29, 2011
by Norm Scott

How much money is being diverted from the classroom into playing "gotcha" with teachers?

When Sam Lazarus, Chapter Leader of Bryant HS in Queens, one of the 30 or so target schools trying out the (Charlotte) Danielson system of teacher evaluation, spoke out at the October 19 Delegate Assembly against a resolution being promoted by the UFT leadership supporting the system I thought I was watching a horror film akin to the Chernobyl disaster, embellished by zombie administrators looking to use what some people consider a potentially useful tool to chew on the livers of living teachers.

In September of 2011, Bloomberg began implementing yet another reform in the NYC public schools. Dennis Walcott, with Bloomberg’s encouragement, has directed principals to use the Danielson Framework rubrics as a formative evaluation for teachers. For those who are unfamiliar with educational jargon, a rubric is a grading scale that can be used to give a rating to someone or something. In the current school year, this framework is to be used for support, next year it is to be used to provide evaluations.

The Danielson Frameworks for Teaching – along with the Common Core Standards, which we'll get to in a follow-up column – are the hot new things in ed deform in the WalBloom administration. From what I hear the DFT standing on its own is not a bad idea but in the hands of those with evil intent - oh, let's say the gang at Tweed - is a dagger aimed at the heart of every single teacher. Why not give nuclear technology to Iran since they say they won't use if for nefarious means? Are teachers willing to hand AhmadineWalBloom a neutron bomb to use on them? (Unless the union agrees to a deal the entire plan is a no-go. To add insult to injury, many teachers have been forced to spend $30 of their own money to buy the Danielson book - sort of like giving someone a shovel to dig their own grave.)

Charlotte Danielson herself paves the road to possible perfidy:
"Let me give you a story of when it’s not done well. I was contacted early on by a large urban district in New Jersey that…had a horrible evaluation system. It was top-down and arbitrary and punitive and sort of “gotcha.” And they developed a new one based on my book, and it was top-down and arbitrary, and punitive. All they did was exchange one set of evaluative criteria for another. They did nothing to change the culture surrounding evaluation. It was very much something done to teachers, an inspection, used to penalize or punish teachers whom the principal didn’t like…[and] I discovered that if I didn’t do something here, my name would get associated with things people hate. So I thought about what it would take to do teacher evaluation well. And I discovered that doing it well means respecting what we know about teacher learning, which has to do with self-assessment, reflection on practice, and professional conversation."

Sam Lazarus spoke at the DA after Academic HS VP Leo Casey urged the delegates to support the UFT leadership-sponsored resolution - which affirmed support for the Danielson system while admonishing the DOE to stick to what was agreed to - to only use the system in Transformation and Restart schools THIS year. (But it is coming to a school near you next year). Sam's story at what the teachers are going through at Bryant where even the Assistant Principals who have to spend their lives evaluating teachers instead of managing their areas of responsibility are warning the teachers that this is all about gotcha and not helpya.

Sam laid out what is happening at Bryant in such graphic terms, some people could be seen retching in the halls - OK - just a little hyperbole - I was ready to retch but it was probably the rotten bananas. He told of how the DFT could be used to rate teachers poorly and fire them without hearings - an end to LIFO and tenure ¬– pretty shocking and something that should call for a long discussion within the union. But of course, in the spirit of UFT democracy, this resolution was gotten to with about two minutes left in the meeting. After Leo and Sam spoke, Mulgrew, using his seating chart to call on the pre-planned Unity Caucus speakers who would support the resolution, got two affirmatives before hitting the "call the question" button to close debate.

It so assuring for the resolution to say that the UFT will "defend the integrity of the Danielson Framework of Teaching using all contractual [is there still a contract?], legal and other means [please tell us some of these] at our disposal to stop its misuse in schools where supervisors are engaged in rogue [see, it's not good guys at the DOE executing a plan but a few bad apple principals] evaluations that violate our members' rights."

So I know you are enjoying a good laugh at how tough UFT leaders will be with the DOE in defending your rights. At the DA a Unity Caucus member who has some knowledge of U-rating hearings told me disgustedly, "Even the hearing officers are asking why the UFT is so weak in defending people." But we do know about the lack of support at the school level when it comes to psycho principals. Imagine giving this tool to one of them, especially when we know that Tweed will support grads of the Leadership Academy even it they are proven serial killers.

So how will/can the UFT protect people from misuse of Danielson? At the September Chapter Leader meeting Mulgrew was slobbering all over how wonderful Danielson is and selling it to the members. Now his assistant Michael Mendel is publically complaining about the principals using it when they are not yet empowered to do so and this has become a point of contention between the UFT leadership and DOE (even though Mulgrew, Walcott and CSA pres sent out a joint letter telling principals they are not to be using it).

A chapter leader from Queens emailed:
"Danielson should be implemented in a supportive, collaborative, non threatening environment of mutual trust. To be highly effective, Danielson states, a teacher should offer students choice in their pathways to learning, students should raise their own questions and show that they take initiative for their own learning, an observer of teachers should be trained and certified in this fine art. Danielson says she can provide the training. To date, we are unaware of any NYC principals receiving this training. To initiate the process without these components already in place is to exchange one poor evaluation system for another in the very words of Ms. Danielson herself. It will take principals with knowledge, experience, and expertise to make the two models work together. Unfortunately, Mr. Bloomberg has not sought out and appointed principals that have the experience, sensitive understanding and knowledge of the classroom to collaborate on the Danielson model. He has replaced many experienced principals with younger, corporate minded supervisors. Given the present reality of the Bloomberg/Walcott regime, the Danielson rubrics have already failed in the New York City Public Schools. The prerequisite climate of trust, knowledge, and cooperation inherent to achieving the true goals of the Danielson framework does not exist, precluding any possibility of this transition. Principals are already using Danielson merely as a vehicle to give teachers unsatisfactory ratings, without implementing any of the positive ideas that Danielson has put forth. The focus continues to be on the usual pecking away at details, rather than on true teacher support and improvement. Therefore, the use of Danielson should be tabled at this time. Perhaps, instead, to move forward in the right direction, a rubric should be created for principals that would encourage them to work toward that climate of trust and respect that Danielson aspires to."

Given complaints like these, the UFT has been balking at signing an agreement so far even though Bloomberg is supposedly dangling a contract with some raises in exchange. The NY Post shrilled this headline: Mayor: Teach union fears evaluations. "Mayor Bloomberg yesterday blasted teachers union complaints over a new evaluation system that’s not even operational yet -- saying the UFT is just trying to subvert a real measure of teacher quality. 'Teachers unions don’t want the evaluations.' Bloomberg was responding to a Post report that the UFT was already threatening to walk away from negotiations over details of the rating system, which can’t officially launch without a deal."

Clearly, Bloomberg badly wants the union to agree to the plan – good enough reason to balk. But the UFT won't balk, in the long run. Tweed will give "assurances" they won't nuke the teachers but while the UFT wails in the courts teachers will end up flailing through the ashes of the resulting incineration.

Norm nukes his readers every day at his blog: http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com


9 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite blog posts, love it! I like how you compared the Danielson framework to nuclear warfare. Unfortunately the analogy is sad but true.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So another wonderful endorsement by the UFT because their track record has been so great:

    The "other" Gates-inspired evaluation system that wasn't supposed to go public.

    Mayoral Control.

    The ATR provision.

    Merit pay.

    All supported by the leadership. What's really scary is the fact that very few delegates seem to have a brain. The others just must be pretty stupid to not know where this is headed. Ask the teachers from Tennessee who are under a similar model.

    Why aren't chapter leaders and their delegates doing their own research? Why are they happy to lead their teachers down the path of destruction?

    Some chapter leaders have obviously been drinking from the well and saying, "What's in it for me?" Or having their egos stroked regularly to make them go along with any of this.

    Ravitch just wrote a piece mentioning this new type of eval and how it's being used punitively.
    But not too many NYC public school teachers take the time to read what's really going on. So when this hits them like a ton of bricks, oh well--you voted for it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Schoolgal - do you have a link to the Ravitch piece on the Danielson model?

    If you do, please share!

    ReplyDelete
  4. In my opinion, Charlotte Danielson should take her Framework and dump it in the circular file!

    Perhaps some people would like to review the videos of the wonderful teaching that goes on at MIT.

    http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses

    Here are some examples of math professors using the lecture method:

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-01-single-variable-calculus-fall-2006/video-lectures/

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-02-multivariable-calculus-fall-2007/video-lectures/

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-03-differential-equations-spring-2010/video-lectures/

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-06-linear-algebra-spring-2010/video-lectures/

    Clearly, the above professors would all be rated "ineffective" according to the Danielson Framework.

    If Danielson truly knew what she were talking about, the colleges would be falling all over themselves to implement her grand notions of what teaching should be, and what teaching shouldn't be!

    And this big disconnect between college teaching and K-12 teaching needs to be explored!

    I would imagine that students who have experienced teaching according to the Danielson Framework are in for a very rude awakening when they discover that the colleges are not particularly into group work, except, perhaps, in certain labs where someone is working with a lab partner, or a team is building a robotic device.

    http://www.danielsongroup.org/theframeteach.htm

    It would be interesting to determine how much money The Danielson Group and the companies that they've associated themselves with have received, and continue to receive, from school districts and state departments of education for the Group's products.

    The Commissioner of Education's decision in NYCBOE v. Arrak (28 EDR 302) is very insightful. It's important to note that the Commissioner accepted an Education Law §3020-a panel's finding that "there were no absolutes in teaching."

    The Commissioner's exact quotation at page 303 is:

    "The panel, in a commentary on respondent's teaching and questioning techniques, stated that there were no absolutes in teaching, and that respondent had to be evaluated for effectiveness. The panel decision notes the fact that respondent's students fared at least as well or better than the students of other teachers in the science department during the period covered by the charges."

    So, given that there are no absolutes in teaching, how does Charlotte Danielson have the temerity to determine that teachers must do this, that, and the other thing in order to be considered "effective" or "highly effective"?

    If you'd like to encourage teachers to voice their opinions directly to Charlotte, here's her Facebook page:

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1490023812

    According to the cover page of the document below, her E-mail is charlotte_danielson@hotmail.com:

    http://www.lhup.edu/evalerio/Danielson's%20Framework.pdf

    Here's a copy of the 2011 Danielson Framework, just in case some principals who are using it didn't see fit to provide teachers with a copy:

    http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/teachers-leaders/practicerubrics/Docs/Teachscape_Rubric.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Norm, We were told yesterday that Judy Gerowitz in the Brooklyn District Office U.F.T. approved the use of ratings on the Informal checklist evaluations being used this year. I went to the Brooklyn Mtg. with Mulgrew and asked him personally whether a watered down version of the Danielson checklist can be used outside of the 33 network schools. He said since there are so many contract violations connected with these evals. that all of them are not acceptable and cannot be used. He asked me to send him a copy , which I did Thurs. If you can put this out for more info. especially accurate info. it would probably help. I don't trust anyone getting a paycheck from the U.F.T..

    ReplyDelete
  6. Michael Mendel is supposed to be the contact at the UFT for violations/abuse of Danielson. At the present time, he has not responded to emails that he has received with Danielson information. Too busy with those steak dinners. Business as usual, while the members drown in instructional support visits.

    Anonymous: Please post if Mulgrew follows through on your concerns.

    Is anyone other than Norm doing anything about this wildfire?

    Thanks, Norm, always there watching our backs.
    Maybe you can talk to Mulgrew?

    ReplyDelete
  7. In my opinion, Charlotte Danielson should take her Framework and dump it in the circular file!

    Perhaps some people would like to review the videos of the wonderful teaching that goes on at MIT.

    http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses

    Here are some examples of math professors using the lecture method:

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-01-single-variable-calculus-fall-2006/video-lectures/

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-02-multivariable-calculus-fall-2007/video-lectures/

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-03-differential-equations-spring-2010/video-lectures/

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-06-linear-algebra-spring-2010/video-lectures/

    Clearly, the above professors would all be rated "ineffective" according to the Danielson Framework.

    If Danielson truly knew what she were talking about, the colleges would be falling all over themselves to implement her grand notions of what teaching should be, and what teaching shouldn't be!

    And this big disconnect between college teaching and K-12 teaching needs to be explored!

    I would imagine that students who have experienced teaching according to the Danielson Framework are in for a very rude awakening when they discover that the colleges are not particularly into group work, except, perhaps, in certain labs where someone is working with a lab partner, or a team is building a robotic device.

    http://www.danielsongroup.org/theframeteach.htm

    It would be interesting to determine how much money The Danielson Group and the companies that they've associated themselves with, have received, and continue to receive, from school districts and state departments of education for the Group's products.

    The Commissioner of Education's decision in NYCBOE v. Arrak (28 EDR 302) is very insightful. It's important to note that the Commissioner accepted an Education Law §3020-a panel's finding that "there were no absolutes in teaching."

    The Commissioner's exact quotation at page 303 is:

    "The panel, in a commentary on respondent's teaching and questioning techniques, stated that there were no absolutes in teaching, and that respondent had to be evaluated for effectiveness. The panel decision notes the fact that respondent's students fared at least as well or better than the students of other teachers in the science department during the period covered by the charges."

    So, given that there are no absolutes in teaching, how does Charlotte Danielson have the temerity to determine that teachers must do this, that, and the other thing in order to be considered "effective" or "highly effective"?

    If you'd like to encourage teachers to voice their opinions directly to Charlotte, here's her Facebook page:

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1490023812

    According to the cover page of the document below, her E-mail is charlotte_danielson@hotmail.com:

    http://www.lhup.edu/evalerio/Danielson's%20Framework.pdf

    Here's a copy of the 2011 Danielson Framework, just in case some principals who are using it didn't see fit to provide teachers with a copy:

    http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/teachers-leaders/practicerubrics/Docs/Teachscape_Rubric.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  8. When I read that the UFT will defend the integrity of the Danielson Framework using all contractual, legal and other means at their disposal to stop its misuse in schools etc., I was reminded of how they were supposed to be monitoring the increase of the letters to the file.
    This is just another facile promise they'll distance themselves from in due course.

    ReplyDelete

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