Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What Joel Klein Really Wants

From his first days Klein claimed the UFT contract hindered his ability to place experienced teachers in schools of high need and wanted the ability to do so. The UFT basically agreed but claimed (for public consumption) they wanted some merit system to get people to work in these schools. The extended day idea in the Chancellor's district under former chancellor Rudy Crew was a form of this idea. When I started teaching in '67, schools classified as special service (poverty areas) gave extra preps to teachers for years, a form of merit pay, so the idea is not new.

What Klein, with the assistance of the UFT, has put into place is a system that just about guarantees the chance of experienced teachers ending up in these, or any, schools, is very unlikely.

The ideal contract for Joel Klein

Woodlass, in a follow-up comment on the ICE blog post by Jeff Kaufman on the evisceration of seniority, made a very cogent point exposing BloomWeinKlein.

Thanks for the historical and structural overview described in the post and the first comment. You can rely on ICE to provide background information on grave union issues such as these, and I regret deeply, both on a personal and a collective level, that the people running this union and ultimately responsible for maintaining our existing job protections break so frequently with long-standing union goals.

I would like to comment on something the Chancellor has pushed for and what he has actually done.

One of Klein's earliest and most continuously iterated goals has been to be able to put good experienced teachers where they are needed, in the more difficult schools. His two recent initiatives, the Open Market hiring system and the way teachers will soon be paid (directly from the principal's budget), have not only hobbled his cause, but have shown him to be duplicitous.

Experienced senior teachers who indeed want to work in tough schools for a variety of reasons (the commute, the level, the challenge) have just become expensive. It is attractive for a principal to avoid calling them in for an interview, let alone hiring them.

Young teachers who spend a year or two in a difficult school are already looking to transfer out, to what they think is a better school in another district or out of New York City altogether. There is no reason for a new teacher to settle into a school with a difficult environment or one they're not happy in when adequate skills and a low salary makes them highly marketable. They'll apply to the schools with good reputations, and by gosh, they'll get those jobs.

It used to be that job vacancies were frozen until excessed teachers were placed, but the Human Resources people are no longer allowed to do this. The vacancies will be filled with new and fairly newly instructors, some of whom do not yet have a Masters. And even before these young teachers get tenure and full certification, they too will get the chance to look for and take that job in a "better" school. This is not conjecture, I already know of many examples.

The Lead Teacher program puts a few experienced teachers in difficult schools - for a salary bonus, and for only half their time teaching. That's a failure for the city's kids no matter how they spin it, and since it's a form of merit pay, it's a failure for labor, too.

There is not one item in the chancellor's agenda that will put good experienced teachers in full-time teaching programs in difficult schools and make them want to stay there.

The Chancellor is a fraud, the Mayor still backs him, and it looks as if Union leadership has a different agenda than what's in our best interest. I can't believe they thought these schemes would be of any use to the profession in the long run. It's something else, and they don't want us in on it.

As I pointed out in a comment on the ICE blog:

We should not view the issue solely from the perspective of teacher rights. One issue I would like to deal with is the argument Klein makes that a school system should not be about job protection but about teaching and learning. Weingarten I believe goes along with these beliefs as evidenced from her actions and by info from the inside that she talks about getting rid of bad teachers and not being worried about protections. I believe there's an argument to be made that seniority rules create stability and school cultures that overcome the instances of the bad teacher being protected (I still think there are as many poor teachers if not more since BloomKlein and many people loyal to the principal will be protected no matter how bad they are.) Stable schools include experienced people who often share their knowledge. Kids have long-standing relationships with teachers in these schools. The assault on seniority had done as much damage if not more to the educational institutions as it has to the traditional union perspective that you raise.


Jose Vilson said...

I'm mad someone hasn't commented on this earlier. Good post, good post. For a younger teacher such as myself, it's important that someone recognizes the dire straits of the experienced teacher. after all, this endangers actually making the teaching profession a viable career. Hmm ...

Son Of Unity said...

Seriously, does ICE even serve a real purpose other than to drive a wedge within our union? Has ICE ever accomplished anything worthy of mention? And no, a sham presidential candidate in the last election, shoddy quality YouTube films, and heckling during the Delegate Assembly doesn't count.

-Son Of Unity, the next generation
I'll be back!