Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Merit Pay Has Arrived

Updated 10/18/07 8am
Check Jeff Kaufman and James Eterno's extensive report on the ICE blog where they also cover details of the pension agreement. In a future post I will focus on the UFT hypocrisy on high stakes testing and how the task force spent a year meeting, issue a report on the evils of high stakes testing and then strikes a deal which codifies the very opposite. What was the task force all about? PR for the members.

Come to the open ICE meeting Friday, Oct. 19 at 4:30 at Murray Bergtraum HS.
These issues will be discussed in depth with the goal of publishing an analysis.

The Teacher View

by Michal Fiorillo Chapter Leader, Newcomers High School posted to ICE-mail

At this afternoon's Delegate Assembly, Randi once again demonstrated her tactical brilliance in manipulating and jamming the members she purportedly represents, while conducting strategically catastrophic negotiations for those same members. Coupling a 55-25 pension deal - which must be passed by the state legislature to go into effect - with school-wide merit pay will provide for immediate division among members in the schools, while benefiting an ever-diminishing number of teachers who can somehow survive their middle and senior professional years without being U'd, ATR'ed, Rubber Roomed and disposed of.

Couching this agreement with Bloomberg as a firewall that will prevent individual merit pay from coming to NYC, Randi has negotiated a plan that enshrines and institutionalizes high-stakes tests, provides incentives for cheating and gaming the exams, and places schools that refuse to participate in greater danger of being closed or reorganized. It also mandates private funding of the merit-pay process, increasing the de facto privatization, of policy if not management, being facilitated in New York City by the UFT.

Today's DA was a disgraceful episode, in which a fundamental trade union ethic - equal pay for equal work - was pitted against another apple pie union demand, pension improvement. But for someone like me, a ten year teacher who still has memories of a pre-Business Model system, reaching twenty years seems more and more like a mirage. Sure, Randi can claim that she's gotten more money, but ever fewer of us will live to see it. After all, these people think the schools can be staffed with a combination of upscale Peace Corps/Missionary resume polishers and foreign temps.

While I had to bitterly marvel at her mastery of the dark arts, the meeting was yet another demoralizing UFT spectacle. Nevertheless, I plan to go work tomorrow and teach, and begin to educate my colleagues to reject this blood money deal.

The Parent View

Leonie Haimson in a post to the nyceducationnews listserve:

See the new $20 million program of teacher merit pay announced today, based on school “performance” which in this case means test scores.

First the administration insists on paying bonuses to principals for high test scores, then paying kids for high test scores, now paying teachers for high test scores. This year the $20 million will be paid for by Broad and Robertson foundations and the NYC Partnership; next year it will cost double and will come from our tax money – or even worse, our children’s CFE dividend.

This system of rewards will not be fair to teachers – whose disparities in working conditions, overcrowding and unequal class sizes are not being addressed, or taken into account anywhere in the so-called accountability system. Thus they will be denied a level playing field to succeed; just as our kids are deprived of an equal chance to learn. Not to mention that one year’s test results are completely unreliable, statistically speaking.

Already too many of our schools are test prep factories—this will make it even worse. My son’s 4th grade class started w/ test prep and filling in multiple choice practice tests the second week of school, even though our school already has some of the highest scores in the city. Why? To raise those scores even higher.

The worst part of this horrid proposal is that the UFT got Quinn and Thompson – two likely candidates to be our next Mayor – to buy into it. I suppose the teachers at least will get to retire early as part of the deal; the kids – and their parents – will get further screwed – possibly for years to come.

For why this system of rewards will be unfair – and counterproductive for our neediest students -- see the blog entry from Sept. 4 here:

Ten reasons to distrust the new accountability system

“For all these reasons and more, the new accountability initiative [and this new system of bonuses] may work to impoverish all of our students and schools – while punishing those who need our help the most.”

Leonie Haimson

Executive Director

Class Size Matters


yomister said...

I walked out of the assembly following the introduction of this horrible proposal. I've never seen so many district reps rallying their chapter leaders/delegates to speak in favor of the initiative. It was a sickening experience.

Anonymous said...

This is quite a horrible day for the students, parents, and teachers of NYC. I really feel that the UFT "sold" us out. What for? Now we can retire at 55 after 25 years of service (27 for new hires). Randi of course sold it to the members yesterday at our Delegate Assembly meeting as a great victory. She told us that now we can collaborate as a whole school. This was suppose to be a good thing. The problem is that the only thing teachers will be collaborating about will be how to raise test scores. To me the union of educators just agreed that you can improve education by getting better test scores. Instead of standing up and fighting, my union just agreed with the NCLB premise, that the way to improve education, is for students to get better test scores.
Oh yes, it will be voluntary, schools will vote whether or not they want to participate. Who will turn down the chance to make another $3,000 dollars? Many teachers did not like the merit pay scheme, but we were told it was a package deal. We were not allowed to vote on the 55/25 and the merit pay separately.

It was certainly a very bad idea to "settle" with the city last spring and call off the demonstration. Parents, students, and teachers loss our bargaining power. Now what do we have? The UFT?

Anonymous said...

Yesterday's Delegate Assembly marked yet another major
sell-out by the UFT Weingarten leadership, the
acceptance of a form of merit pay, which she then
tried to spin as a victory!

The capitulation of the union before the
Bush/Bloomberg NCLB onslaught opens the door to a
really bad situation. Whether presented as
"voluntary", "school wide bonus pay," or other
euphemism, it is bad for teachers and abd for kids.

Not least is the principle of "equal pay for equal
work." Reducing teaching to the profit motive, and
pitting teachers against each other are vicious
union-busting tools. Schoolwide or individual merit
pay, there will be enormous pressure on all teachers
to abandon teaching for test prep. Schools will have
incentive to push "low performing" kids out of the
system (so as not to bring the schools test scores
down and "deprive" teachers of bonuses). Obviously,
teachers will be forced out as well, pressured by
principals, and now their colleagues!

It's obvious that some teachers will feel they need
economicallyi to transfer to high performing schools,
to abandon committments to resource rooms, ESL
classrooms, and all the special resources we have
fought hard to make available.

It's interesting that the New York Times noted,
while Weingarten did not, that this is a major victory
for Bloomberg. And that when the school-based team
meets to dole out the cash, they can "choose" to do it
in any fashion EXCEPT seniority based.

There is no way merit pay is not directed
against minorities, second language students, special
ed students. In fact, there is an agenda here, a
nationwide drive for a two-tiered educational
system--one for elite (read: white) kids, and one for
everybody else who just need McSchools, because
they're only going to get McJobs.

In 2005, the union "traded" off senioritiy rights
for a raise. That enabled the DOE to "restructure"
(i.e. downsize, excess, push out, hire cheap) the
schools and to hundreds of teachers now sitting in ATR
pools and rubber rooms.

Now, in 2007, again the union has "traded off" a
basic union principle for the 25-55 (which may or may
not go through) and "finding" a lump-sun payoff to
retirees-and near-retirees to sweeten the deal.
Again, a great deal will be lost.

--Marjorie Stamberg
GED Plus teacher
Manhattan Hub

Anonymous said...

Let's see if i get this right. I am paid a regular salary and can't get kids to meet standards. But give me $3000 minus taxes, $2000 extra dollars - then i will work hard and do it. What an insult! What a message to our kids and their parents!
Not having chapter leaders on the committee to select the process to be used to determine how the money is distribure and the ultimately to the teachers who will receive the money is a really smart move. Chapter leaders will not be facing the wrath of the teachers who don't get the crumbs.

Who is going to take the kid who is a low Level 1? Spec. ed.? ELL? Just transferred in from a correctional facility? Is sickly with a poor attendance record? Has parents who neglect him/her? Lives in a temporary shelter? Moves around alot?

When we begin to see kids as liabilities (or paychecks) we have lost our sense of mission and worth.


Under Assault said...

Totally agree, Loretta.

Since the newspapers seem to be reading these blogs now, let me say loud and clear:


We've been doing it under all of BloomKlein's attacks, and we've been doing it regardless of Weingarten's silence and capitulation.

We believe in our profession, we trust our skills, and we teach with our hearts. We cannot let the press or anyone else portray us as venal. We are not just workers grabbing for any money that's thrown our way.

This merit pay / pension deal was Randi Weingarten's tactical power grab. Teachers did not push her to get 55/25 in this way. In fact, she did it in stealth, negotiating all this behind our backs and announcing it without warning at a D.A.

The great majority of us who work with kids are not sell-outs. Most of us keep hanging in there in spite of the two-pronged campaign against our profession, by immoral officials on the one hand and a visionless, self-serving union leadership on the other.

Anonymous said...

Randy sold out all our teachers' rights. The loosers are the children. I can't wait to see all the antagonisms among the teachers in the schools who will get the money. Randy you are breaking the union!! Who is advising you??

Anonymous said...

I won't take blood money. I won't sign on for it or work for it nor accept it. I don't need the money. If it was forced on me I'd give it to the children. Literally I would hand out cash to the kids. and tell them: now go burn down what's left of your no longer public school system.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell Michael Fiorillo that there is nothing to "reject"? Can we get past the flowery language and deal with substance?