Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Did Randi Know and When Did She Know It?

The shot that was heard around the NYC teaching corps was fired on Martin Luther King Day as teachers awoke to a front page article in the NY Times announcing that a secret program was in effect to evaluate teachers based on test scores.

Rather than argue the case against, we want to focus on the role, or lack of role the UFT has played.

With every passing day more and more teachers see that the UFT is not on their side but acts as an intermediary for the powers that be. In essence, they represent the interests of people like Bloomberg and Klein to the members, using obfuscation and confusion to give the members the impression they are on your side.

If you're asking why they function this way, we would have to delve into the history of the labor movement and the role union leaders have played to control the militancy of the members - militancy that could threaten their own power.

Randi Weingarten has known about the program for months but kept quiet about it - she claims she did not know the specific schools which we all know would have been easy for them to find out and warn the teachers. And even if they couldn't find out, a public exposure at the time would have allowed teachers in all schools to confront their principals and ask point blank if they were part of the program. That would have forced them to tell them or basically lie to their faces. At the very least the UFT could have thrown a monkey wrench into the DOE plans but chose the sounds of silence.

Therefore, view Randi Weingarten's words of outrage - I guess she wasn't all too outraged all these months - and promise to fight the plan as the usual empty words designed to obfuscate the issue and confuse the members.

Marjorie Stamberg has written a strong piece posted at the ICE blog:

DOE's Secret Plan for Merit Pay...Without the Pay!

Here are a few choice excerpts related to the UFT's role in all this:

Naturally they had to do it in secret.

The Times revealed that that the DOE has a program in which 2,500 teacher in 140 schools across the city are being evaluated on the basis of their students' test scores.

Did you know about this? Of course not. Because they've kept it under wraps. Now Randi has a statement out (on the UFT website), calling the secret program misguided and claiming it is in contradiction with the "commitment...to collaboration and working together.. in the School Wide Bonus Program." No, there's no contradiction--this is all part of the same program and the UFT leadership has acted as enablers.

The Times said that Randi Weingarten and the UFT knew about this secret program for months and said nothing to the teachers! In a quote, Randi said she could not reveal it because she was told "confidentially" by the DOE and did not know which specific schools were involved. She said she "had grave reservations about the project and would fight if the city tried to use the information for tenure or formal evaluations or even publicized it." (So now it's public--I wonder what she's going to do?)

But we should all ask our UFT reps what they knew about this secret plan and when they knew it.

As members of the UFT executive board, and as district UFT reps, were they informed about the existence of this program before today? Did they know about it when they were asking us to be part of this agenda? Or did Randi keep it from them as well?

I urge you to read the entire Stamberg piece.

Some of the best commentary is over at NYC Educator where his cohort Reality Based Educator did a piece yesterday - and make sure to read the comments.

ICE mail also had quite a bit of discussion and I'll put some of that up in a future post.

One of the themes of the Times piece is the usual "teacher quality is the most important determiner claptrap. Of course, Weingarten and her political cohorts the Clintons say this all the time, which puts the blame for failure clearly on the teacher. So I don't believe the UFT is against this plan philosophically.

But you know my view of Randi and the rest of the Unity Caucus crew is that they are 5th column collaborators, or, Vichyists, if you will.

Michael Fiorillo echos some of these thoughts in a post to ICE-mail:

Apparently, the UFT fundamentally seems to agree with them: rhetoric made for public consumption aside, they clearly support the "testing as achievement" regime, as confirmed by their support of a merit pay plan that enshrines testing, use of management-framed data in making tenure decisions, passivity regarding testing mandates stemming from NCLB, testing used in rating and school-closing decisions, etc.

This is what a "bi-partisan," "post-ideological" political landscape looks like: corporate self-interest and stealth privatization masquerading as "reform," and ambitious union misleaders helping them manage the transition.


Geoffrey said...

i say we have call-in sick days until they get rid of it....or i guess we can all wear black and still teach, which wouldn't be as effective

ed notes online said...

For any action to take place, there has to be an organizing body. With the UFT dormant, nothing will ever happen until an alternative organization is created.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget how chummy Randi was with Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg at her 50th birthday party (paid for by us members!)

If she were so outraged, then she would have left them off her guest list.

She is a modern day Benedict Arnold--a traitor of the worst kind. It just kills me every pay period to know that my hard earned wages are being siphoned off in outrageous union dues to pay for her lavish and traitorous lifestyle.

I guarantee you that this program will become citywide within a few years and will have Randi's blessing. She cares nothing for her members (ie. ATR's, rubber room, loss of a plethora of hard earned rights, etc.) and only for her own advancement.

Dewey said...

"my view of Randi and the rest of the Unity Caucus crew is that they are 5th column collaborators, or, Vichyists, if you will."

Anyone who equates measuring teacher performance by test scores with Nazism (and hence toleration for such measurement with toleration for Nazism) is insulting to the victims of the Holocaust and insulting to their readers intelligence. Hitler did not invade France in order to measure their teacher's effectiveness. Grow up.

ed notes online said...

It's a simple analogy that has nothing to do with Nazis or the Holocaust (the usual attempts to obfuscate the issue).
Vichy was to the people of France as the UFT is to its members.

Eduwonkette also compared the same thing to the Tuskeegee experiment and has taken heat for the analogy not the substance.