Monday, March 30, 2015

Norm in The Wave: Condemning State Budget Plan as UFT/NYSUT Tries to Put Lipstick on the Pig

Posted to The WAVE for publication April 3, 2015

Condemning State Budget Plan as UFT/NYSUT Tries to Put Lipstick on the Pig
By Norm Scott

As I hit deadline (Monday afternoon) details of the state budget agreement pertaining to education have been emerging all day. UFT President Mulgrew Mulgrew, in a wtf moment for me: 
“Our hard work has paid dividends: In a rebuke to the anti-public-school agenda of hedge-fund billionaires, the state Legislature tonight reached agreement on a new budget and a package of education proposals that will immediately increase aid to public schools, ensure that teacher evaluations do not hinge on state test scores and ensure local oversight of struggling schools.”
 Let's see:
·      Extending tenure to 4 years – with principal options to extend it further year after year.
·      Bringing in outside observers to observe teachers (how would police unions react to that?).
·      State receivership of "failing" schools – another way to funnel money away from public schools and into private hands.
·      Expedited teacher firings based on test scores ("ineffective" on the test component and you have to be rated "ineffective" overall - two straight "ineffectives" and you're fired.)
·      Turning over all unresolved issues to the crooked NY State Ed department.

These are dividends? The UFT is parsing at its best. One of the things Cuomo didn’t get – yet – is raising the charter school cap. That battle is still to come. I have some solace in that Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder assured me that while he supports charter schools (shame on him) he doesn’t support raising the cap – I will be watching for his vote. Unfortunately Phil also supports the Education Tax Credit giveaway to private/parochial school interests which would funnel up to $300 million a year to parents who choose to keep their kids out of public school – they want choice, let them pay for it. (As I pointed out to Phil – I might like to have a private carting firm pick up my garbage on more convenient days – can I get a tax credit?)

Jeanette Deutermann, a  parent test opt out leader from Long Island didn’t quite agree with Mulgrew:

“Our sellout lawmakers just agreed to turn our classrooms into testing factories. They agreed to make our children worth no more than a score. They have put us firmly down the course to dismantling our unions, and have decided that our voices don't matter. All that is left for us is to say is "we refuse". This classroom killing deal can only work if they get our test scores. We will deny them the weapon being used to destroy our schools. WE DO NOT CONSENT!!!!!! … And UFT/Mulgrew declares victory????? Mulgrew it is DEFINITELY time for you to go. City teachers, time to rise up. I rarely get involved w UFT politics, but his praise of this horrendous deal shows how this has happened. I've had enough. NYSUT, we're waiting for a response, and it had better be a strong one.”
Karen Magee, NYSUT (the state-wide union) president, did respond Monday afternoon:   
“We are encouraging parents to opt out… we will be taking further steps to make parents aware of this.”   
This was surprising to some, given Magee is considered a Mulgrew puppet. The Mulgrew led Unity Caucus at just last week’s (March 25) Delegate Assembly had turned down a strong ant-high stakes testing/pro opt out resolution proposed by MORE, the caucus I am a member of (

The rejected MORE resolution called on the UFT to:

·      declare its opposition to the use of state- or federal-mandated standardized tests for the purposes of making grade promotion, graduation, teacher evaluation, or other high-stakes decisions regarding students or teachers.

·      supports the right of parents and guardians to choose to opt-out their children from any or all state- or federally-mandated testing, and supports the right of teachers to discuss freely with parents and guardians their rights and responsibilities with respect to such testing, all without any negative consequences from NYC DOE.

·      will fully support and protect members and others who may suffer any negative consequences as a result of speaking about their views of such testing or about the rights and obligations of parents and guardians with respect to such testing.

·      will use its organizational capacity to inform members in every chapter about the right of parents/guardians to opt-out their children from state or federal mandated testing.
·      will support and defend members who are conscientious objectors to administering standardized assessments.

·      will demand an immediate halt to all Common Core based testing, curriculum and standards, until it has been properly field tested.

What’s not to like? The UFT has the ability to reach out to every school in the city to inform and promote the advantages of opting out and to support parents who are threatened and denied their rights by school administrators. As the education disaster movie plays out, my guess is that the UFT/Unity Caucus will start to see some merit in aspects of the MORE resolution relating to opt out. If the tests are going to be misused, deny them the data.

As I was closing, NYSAPE, a state coalition of parents headlined: Legislators MUST Vote NO to Budget bill ( Come on Phil, take the pledge.

Norm blogs too often at:

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