Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Ex-Unity Caucus Member Issues a Warning

"The UFT/AFT has caved to this educationally unsound pressure time and time again and need to be stopped. We should be following Diane Ravitch and the NEA, not a union that has consistently worked with power to sell out the students and teachers, the majority of whom live in poverty, of New York City."
An ex- Unity Caucus chapter leader

I encourage you to stop the AFT leadership from continuing to follow Bloomberg, Duncan and the major media outlets down the wrong education reform path. AFT/UFT leadership has always demonstrated a willingness to sell out the membership and students of color for their own personal gain and success.

I write to you today not as a disgruntled ex Unity delegate but as an educator who’s first and foremost concern has always been to ensure that poor Black students receive the same education and opportunities as students of means. I am glad that I do not have to ignore what I know to be right to support UFT leadership and follow my team leader as delegates were told on in June. Make no mistake about it, as a UFT/Unity delegate, there is no voting other than the way one is told to vote. The UFT/Unity delegation works very hard to get their way on everything at the conventions. By packing the committees with their people and having a contingent of delegates ready to line the microphones, it is an orchestrated effort to enforce their way. Trust when I say delegates follow along for many reasons, none related to education or any common sense education reform. Now they are poised to lead us further down the path of the quick fix in education which will allow the achievement gap to flourish not close.

Since taking control of public schools in New York City, Bloomberg has had one goal in mind. He wants his legacy to be the man who solved the problems in public education, specifically closing the achievement gap between Black and White. He had only 8 years to accomplish his goal he set out on quick fixes, not once doing what was necessary to truly close the achievement gap. He identified teachers as the problem, and in turn, closed large high schools, created test requirements for promotion and advocated for charter schools. Now with an additional four years in office he has been given the opportunity to continue and influence more people.

Any rational educator in NYC knows his tests are the new word for social promotion. One can score a Level 2, enough for promotion to the next grade without even reading a question on the 6th grade ELA and 7th grade Math Exams. Yet UFT leadership has stood beside Bloomberg and declared social promotion has ended.

To truly close the achievement gap Bloomberg and his followers would have to acknowledge poverty and those disadvantages associated with it that affect children’s ability to learn. Children in poverty enter school far behind in their exposure to reading and language than their advantaged counterparts. These deficiencies persist throughout their lives in public school as schools have traditionally not provided the necessary resources to bring children of poverty to the level of their peers in the early grades. To remediate for this, in elementary school, would require the kind of tax money; no urban district has yet been willing to spend.

We come to this point today where many states have passed legislation tying test scores to teacher evaluation. Now the AFT wants to officially make it union policy to support this. There are 2 major problems with this.

The first is when administrators/teachers are rated or paid based on test scores and credit accumulation they will reach those goals by any means necessary, as I have seen firsthand for many years. The second problem is the way in which the UFT justifies their actions. The UFT says that the observation/evaluation system is broken. They negotiated the rules yet somehow it is not working.

It is not working because the UFT have allowed Bloomberg/Klein to run roughshod over our contract specifically Article 21D. I requested information from the Department of Education (DOE) under the Freedom of Information Law, as to the amount of U-Ratings for the past 30 years and how many were sustained and overruled. I expected to see a huge increase in both U-Ratings and the number sustained under Bloomberg/Klein. It is unfortunate that the DOE has yet to find the information from May when I made the request.

It is also unfortunate that the UFT has also failed to secure this information. Despite the UFT Delegate Assembly passing a resolution regarding U-Rating appeals in 2007 the UFT has never followed through. The resolution says they will seek applicable data from the DOE, canvas members and analyze the information. I have not seen any evidence this was done. Email to UFT officials went unanswered.

If the UFT were to admit the contractual language has been abrogated they would have to do something. By ignoring the fact that our U-Rating appeals under Bloomberg/Klein have been sustained at an unprecedented rate, they have perfect justification for their resolution on testing and teacher evaluation. They may continue to convince the membership the system does not work and therefore having a percentage of your evaluation based on tests is a great advance. I have seen firsthand the tyranny of the observation and rating system under Bloomberg/Klein, carefully orchestrated under the guise of supervisory discretion. I am a chapter leader and I have received U-Ratings and according to the UFT I should be happy that 40% of my evaluation will be based on test scores? Oh and with new categories instead of just Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.

I want what I have always wanted since setting foot into my first urban public high school 12 years ago. Essentially to provide students in poverty with the education and tools they need and to guarantee they have the same education and opportunity I had in my public school experience. Mostly I would like to see public education live up to its responsibilities to educate all equally. In ten years in the south Bronx I have not seen it, nor have I seen Bloomberg or Duncan suggest they will do anything to secure this right. I have seen each blame teachers and advocate for tests as measurement of student progress and more incendiary, teacher effectiveness.

The UFT/AFT has caved to this educationally unsound pressure time and time again and need to be stopped. We should be following Diane Ravitch and the NEA, not a union that has consistently worked with power to sell out the students and teachers, the majority of whom live in poverty, of New York City.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you chapter leader for your excellent post. I too have always sought to lift my students out of poverty by providing access to a quality education and I've taught for 25 years. No one ever mentions the horrendous physical conditions of our schools. I was in the South Bronx for many years with broken toilets, roach-infested lunchrooms etc. I'm in Manhatten now and same story (plus no gym).The message to children is clear - We don't care to give you any kind of decent learning environment. Point being that if you ask inner city teachers what tool would help poor kids learn they'd say "Give me a functioning building and a decent school lunch and watch me raise scores". We taxpayers could utilize schools for adult classes and recreation (also creates good production function for billionaire largess i.e. donate to a school and reap some great PR from different groups). Sandra Feldman used to at least walk into some schools and highlight the sub-par building conditions. Mulgrew has meetings in restaurants. Who's even looking/minding the conditions? I'd like union dues used to advocate for better physical working conditions instead of partying in Seattle. How 'bout a standard for minimum numbers of working toilets for starters?
    Please keep posting Norm it helps us read between the lines of B.S.!

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  2. I don't trust this site when it quotes an anonymous chapter leader. It's probably a fabrication.

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  3. You're a fabrication. Tell you what. Send me your email and phone number and I'll have the anonymous Unity chapter leader, clearly someone with balls compared to you, call you.

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  4. INSIDE THE UNITY CAUCUS:

    WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE POSTERS:
    WHAT YOU ALL MISS IS THAT WEINGARTEN, MULGREW AND THEIR ILK ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN THEIR OWN PERSONAL POWER, MONEY, INFLUENCE, BEING ACCEPTED BY THE POWERFUL ELITES (BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL NERDS IN HIGH SCHOOL) AND THE UNION IS JUST A MECHANISM TO FURTHER THEIR SELFISH GOALS.
    WE EXPECT THEM TO WORK FOR THE MEMBERS AND WE ARE SHOCKED WHEN THEY DONT- WHICH IS EVERY DAY.
    REMEMBER THIS: WEINGARTEN AND MULGREW COULD JUST AS EASILY WORK FOR BLOOMBERG OR DUNCAN. IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO THEM.
    THEY HAVE BOTH LEARNED HOW TO SING THE SONG OF UNIONISM BECAUSE THEY KNOW IT WILL KEEP THEM IN P0WER; BUT LET'S NOT KID OURSELVES: THEIR MAIN GOAL IS ME, ME, ME- NOT THE MEMBERS. NEITHER OF THEM GIVES A HOOT ABOUT POVERTY OR POOR PEOPLE OR THE UNION MEMBERS THEY ARE ARE USING TO ADVANCE THEIR CAREER PATHS.
    THEY ARE MORALLY BANKRUPT AND THEY BOTH KNOW IT, BUT THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO BE ACCEPTED BY THE LOW LIFES WHO ARE IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND CITY HALL.
    THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS TO RANDI AND MULGREW- THEY YEARN FOR ACCEPTANCE BY THE POWERFUL. AND THEY KNOW THAT SOME DAY, THEY WILL BE REWARDED FOR THEIR VICHY-LIKE STANCES. THAT IS WHY THEY SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH LACKEYS WHO WILL TELL THEM ANYTHING THEY WANT TO HEAR.

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  5. Dear AFT delegates,

    Welcome to Seattle! It looks like it will be a great convention.

    I am writing to make you aware of three meetings/events that we would like you to attend at the Convention Center:

    A Progressive Caucus meeting tonight (Wednesday) at 5 p.m. in room 6E
    A Progressive Caucus meeting on Thursday, July 8, at 6 p.m. in room 4E & F
    Our UFT breakfast on Friday, July 9, from 7-8:30 a.m. in room 6E
    I look forward to seeing you.

    By the way, the UFT office is located in Hall 4ABC (4th floor) at the Convention Center.

    Sincerely,
    LeRoy Barr

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  6. EVEN ZAHLER'S NITWIT NEPHEW -THE UFT LAWYE R- CAN DEFEND THIS.
    BARR AND MULGREW SCREWED THEMSELVES BIG TIME WITH THIS LETTER TO A.F.T. DELEGATES ON A U.F.T. WEB SITE.
    REMEMBER THE Law: PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS HAS NO LEGAL STANDING IN THE UFT OR AFT; THEREFORE, BARR IS LEGALLY AT RISK FOR USING U.F.T. WEB SITE TO POST THIS.
    ANY GOOD LAWYERS AROUND?

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