Thursday, December 29, 2011

More Calls to Reject King Ultimatum and the RTTT Blood Money

A follow-up from this morning's post:  Is a Smellout Coming? UFT Should Reject John King Threats to Withhold Money That Doesn't Go to Classrooms Anyway

The more we hear from the 33 schools the more we hear horror stories on the eval system. And bad news is filtering in from the other 100 pilot schools. The UFT has been inundated with complaints from members which really puts the squeeze on the leadership. Ignore the members and satisfy the editorialists and other critics - something they can never do until the union disappears and that still won't be enough for the NY Post which will blame the ghost of the UFT for problems in the schools? Maybe that is why the leadership is pushing changes in the constitution to further restrict democracy by giving more weight to retirees than they have had in UFT elections and diluting even further the already restricted voice of classroom teachers in the halls of UFT power..

One of the joys of Leonie Haimson's listserve - the most watched and read anti ed deform listserve in the nation - are the wonderful range of comments and commentary and just plain important information. And then there are the comments from such notables as Diane Ravitch and Deb Meier, both of whom are represented below in today's reaction to the John King threat to withhold RTTT money - boo, hoo John. What is being exposed is how that money really has little to do with giving the schools improved resources that affect children, as Marian Swerdlow and Leonie Haimson point out in this selection from today's comments on the NYCED listserve:
So here's an issue that the UFT, the Daily News, Walcott and Diane all agree on:  better no deal than a bad deal to get the $60M in fed funds (though I'm sure they would disagree about what a bad deal would include.) --- Leonie Haimson

Getting the money will cost more than what is given. There are costly strings attached  - Diane Ravitch

I note tht there's 0% for professional contributions to the school itself (support for other teachers, etc etc that can't be "observed or teted), and 0% for relatiomship with families. ---Deb Meier

DoE didn't have an opportunity to put forth a pilot program first.  Isn't it true, that the schools impacted by losing the funds already under performing.  My opinion, DoE already has a 'tough evaluation' process in place for them; closure/oops phase-out phase-in. There may simply be too much oversight to which the DoE fails to encourages transparency. -- Monica Ayuso
Leonie follows up with:
See comments below from Marian Swerdlow about SIG grants, which the city is now in danger of losing b/c of a non-agreement on teacher evaluation; any parents or teachers on the list who think these funds are ever being used correctly to actually help kids learn?

She doesn't even mention all the out-sourcing of school management to private organizations with little or no connection to the community or record of success.

I myself feel similarly about the RTTT funds, most of which are being wasted on more consultants, more testing , and hundreds of new out of classrooms positions, like "innovation coaches " and "achievement coaches" too many of whom will likely remain on the city payroll when the federal funds run out.

Marian Swerdlow:
We should remember what this money CANNOT be used to do.  It CANNOT be used to increase the number of teachers in order to reduce class size.  It CANNOT be used to hire more Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists and other support workers that our students so desperately need. It CANNOT be used to buy new, badly needed textbooks.  It CANNOT be used to buy classroom supplies, such as paper or ink, toner or stencil rolls for duplicating  machines.

We should understand what it IS used for.  It IS used for often useless "professional development" that REMOVES teachers from their classrooms when they should be teaching.  It IS used to buy uselessly elaborate and exorbitantly expensive technology such as so-called "Smart Boards" and "Promethians."  These machines are flashy but few if any teachers find they help students engage or learn. 
Our schools need better funding.  However, the "strings" attached to these funds do not allow us to use the money in the most useful ways.  To accept a deeply flawed new teacher evaluation system in order to get these highly conditional funds is definitely lose - lose.   
Read more:
UFT: We won’t agree to a bad deal

Better to lose $60 million than have a weak rating system:  Walcott must hold firm on teacher evaluations

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

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