Monday, March 9, 2009

Bronx Chapter Leader on NYC Teacher Data Initiative

Dear Teachers:

For those of you unfamiliar with NYC’s Teacher Data Initiative I strongly urge you to “do your homework” as soon as possible. (Google NYC+Teacher-Data-Initiative and you will find a wealth of information.) In a nutshell… it is the DOE’s way of ranking you based on your students’ test scores. You will be compared to other teachers throughout the City with similar student populations including the teachers you work with in your own school. For now it only applies to testing grade teachers but eventually it will apply to all of us.

There are many problems with this type of (false) accountability. This initiative begs the immediate question: If I am being compared to my neighbor across the hall -- then we are indeed competitors rather than collaborative colleagues -- so, why should I share my wealth of knowledge and secrets to success with you if - in the end - you use what I taught you to “outrank” me, and as a result my ranking falls? This initiative has made me realize that it is now in our individual best interest NOT to share with each other. BloomKlein has made this a competition. Do you think the Philadelphia Eagles shared their playbook with the NY Giants?

Do you think Barack Obama shared his campaign strategies with John McCain?

I could write volumes about this and more but for now I want to focus on that overused buzzword….ACCOUNTABILITY. It’s time to remind all administrators from our AP’s right on up the ladder to BloomKlein that they too are accountable. It’s time to document every time someone else fails our students.

Throwing accountability back into the faces of the “higher-ups” is now a matter of self preservation. As per NYC’s Teacher Data Initiative you are being asked to use your students’ scores as a way to answer the following questions that I copied and pasted from the DOE website:

“How is your work affecting particular students? For the purposes of learning and growing, how do you compare to other teachers? What are your biggest strengths and successes that you could share with your colleagues? What could you learn from your colleagues that could help you fine tune your skills?” How have special education students and English language learners fared in your classroom? How are you doing with students in the bottom of the class or the top of the class? What are other English and math teachers in similar circumstances doing successfully and what could you learn from them? What are your biggest successes that you could share with your colleagues—whether they’re other teachers in your school or teachers through the City?”

BloomKlein has made it all about you. “These reports, instead, are designed to help you pinpoint your own strengths and weaknesses, and empower you, working with your principal and colleagues, to devise strategies to improve.”

I bet you feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that Joel Klein et al really care about your professional development. I’m going to send him a note of thanks as soon as I’m finished typing this. Ironically they want YOU to improve your craft while they drive our schools into the abyss.

Accountability is a two-way street and every time you fail to document how someone else is failing your students - you are placing a nail in your own professional coffin. After all it doesn’t matter that Johnny never does his homework – it’s all about you as the individual player in the sport of education.

It doesn’t matter that Carlos constantly disrupts your lessons so the other children can’t learn. It’s all about you.

It doesn’t matter that Jane is 13 years old having been left back twice and sitting in your fifth grade class without ever having been referred for an evaluation.
It’s all about you.

It doesn’t matter that no one ever followed up on your recommendation to get your student tested for support services.

It doesn’t matter that you have children in your CTT class who truly belong in a small class setting but the City keeps them in the larger class because it’s cheaper.

It doesn’t matter that Alex has been absent 36 times. It doesn’t matter that Peter has been shipped from shelter to shelter and hasn’t been in school for over a month until he arrived in your class.

It doesn’t matter that Jasmine never seems to pay attention even though you constantly remind her to stay on task.

It doesn’t matter that you are being judged on your ELL students’ performance even though they receive their ELL services in a windowless storage room in our gym where the temperature reaches 90+ degrees and ELL teachers are constantly pulled off program for testing.

It doesn’t matter that you believe that the reading or math programs we use are insufficient.

None of this matters because you haven’t made it matter.

All of the above and then some need be documented on a daily basis. This teacher refuses to be anyone’s scapegoat. And the day my ‘Teacher Data Report” is available is the day that my Administrative Data Report will be produced using all of the wonderful anecdotes, letters, emails and phone call logs I so diligently kept. That’s how you throw accountability back. Imagine if everyone did this. Imagine how powerful our compiled record of administrative/parental failures might be if Joel Klein et al gets the bug to close our school or use those data reports in an attempt to fire you.

Who has the time for more paperwork? We better make time. Like I said….self preservation.
Gone are the days of real teaching (Newbies, I’m sorry you missed it….teachers and students had fun and the children learned.) Real teaching doesn’t leave much of a paper trail. Real teaching is organic and fluid and the best teachable moments are unplanned. Rubrics, process charts and beginning sentences with “Children, good readers [ad your own TC lingo here]….” are nonsense.

Ask any real teacher. Educrats constantly coin new catch phrases and lame ideas to create the false need for professional development from people who are so far removed from the classroom that they probably think a piece of chalk is a suppository. The one thing these educrats are good at is loading their bank accounts with our tax dollars. Gone are the days of collaborating with colleagues, picking their brains for ideas, or sharing your own failures in an honest way so you can truly hone your craft. It’s now about the data and you as the individual competitor. For those of you on the testing grades…you’re on your own. Share your “playbook” at your own peril.

Sometime in the spring I will hold a series of morning union meetings to discuss ways in which you can specifically throw accountability back. I hope you attend and learn how to protect yourself from the clipboards and data.

Roseanne McCosh PS 8 Dist 10 - Bronx
February 26, 2009

Read more on TDI from Ed Week


Anonymous said...

Thank you. You have validated my inner frustrations. My anecdotes are already in the works. They want to play, ok, let's play!

Anonymous said...

The sentiments are absolutely perfect and I agree totally. However, why doesn't this CL say who he/she is? That's a chapter leader? No wonder the UFT is so weak. Is anyone going to stand behind someone who is telling us to fight anonymously?

Ok, you can call me a hypocrite for posting anonymously but I'm not telling people to make their administrators accountable.

ed notes online said...

The chapter leader did identify herself but I didn't want to reveal it without her permission. She gave it and is now listed. Now it's your turn to stand up and make the UFT less weaker.

Roseanne said...

As a chapter leader I always encourage my members to stand up for themselves and I lead by example. My name is posted. I publically display all of my letters to the staff on our UFT bulletin board. I've never hidden behind anonymity and never will. Joel Klein et al aren't so scary when you're smart, good at your job and know how to give it back as good as you get it. Food for thought for Anonymous who labeled me a hypocrite.
Roseanne McCosh PS 8 Bronx

Anonymous said...

Thank you. You have validated my inner frustrations.