Saturday, December 31, 2011

Politically Inspired U-ratings MUST be tied to Battle Against Evaluation System, With Emphasis on Union Reps

We are going out to dinner in a group of 8, where 5 are/were ed activist founders if ICE (and active in the opposition caucus in the 70's and 80's) - which means a long night of boredom for my poor "I'm sick of this ed crap" wife. But since she's not driving, I will ply her with lots of wine so she won't whine.
UPDATED: Jan. 1, 2AM
“Sadly,” he said, “the adults in charge of the city’s schools have let the students down.”  ---- John King, Chief NYSED Ed Deform Pimp
 Are there any better code words for an ed deform pimp than the hackneyed use of the "adults" vs "students"  _ as if he and the other ed deformer adults who stand to make a fortune and  who are pushing hours of testing down the throats of 3rd graders - and would do it to pre-k if they could get away with it - are not screwing kids. Jeez, we've been hearing that from Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee for over half a decade.

John King might as well get a broom and take a picture for the cover of Time mag. [ANYONE WILLING TO DO A PHOTOSHOP JOB ON THAT?]
Mr. Mulgrew asked the city to let independent reviewers rule on the appeals. He said some principals had used the ratings as a means of punishing teachers with whom they had clashed, and he cited several examples, including the case of a Bronx principal who doled out unsatisfactory ratings to teachers whom she wanted out of her school.  --- NY Times, Dec. 31, 2011
I was pleased to see this comment from Mulgrew, who is finally doing something we have called on him to do for a long time -- tie the eval battle to the political nature of the attacks on teachers.

But he unfortunately did not take my advice of focusing on the outrageous Peter Lamphere (Bronx HS if Sci) case where the entire math dept (and not the socials studies dept too) were wiped by vindictive principal Valerie Reidy. Peter got 2 U-ratings charging him with incompetence in retaliation for his role as chapter leader. Instead of making this into a major case, the UFT worked quietly behind the scenes to arrange Peter's transfer to a small high school before he got a 3rd U-rating that threatened his career.

UPDATE: I Challenge Dennis Walcott On Peter Lamphere Case at PEP 12/14/11
Improved audio with assistance from Bronx HS of Sci parent (tale to be told later).

UFT/Unity Caucus prefer principal choice of Chapter Leader over opposition
This is not surprising since Peter is a prominent voice in the opposition caucuses to Unity Caucus, the UFT leadeship party that controls every seat on the Exec Bd and the AdCom and has been in power for almost 50 years. By removing Peter from one of the few large high schools left, both the DOE and the UFT leadership benefited. While it is obvious that the DOE gained in Peter's removal by reducing union presence in the school and giving Reidy more control over the staff, Unity Caucus also benefited by diluting the voice of the opposition on a large school. I have contended for 40 years that given the choice of a Peter Lamphere rigorously defending teacher rights or a Unity hack in the pocket of a principal, the UFT/Unity leadership absolutely prefers the latter (one day I will re-tell the story of the ICE chapter leader at Forest Hills HS who had an election stolen by Queens Borough rep Rona Freiser so she could be replaced by a Unity hack who the principal favored.)

I should point out something I wasn't aware -- that the UFT got NYSUT to pay for the court appeal of the 2nd U-rating but not the first.

Peter Lamphere commented on the Ed Notes post to correct the record:
Just to be clear, the recent legal victory in my case was won by lawyers from NYSUT at the urging of the UFT leadership.

As Norm indicates in his post, I also have another case about my first U rating, which touches more directly on the issue of anti-union harassment and I funded with the generous help of supporters and allies but without UFT assistance.

Both cases highlight the potential for arbitrary and harassing U ratings and the need for our union to stand strong in the evaluation negotiations, as they have done so far.
The UFT has to explain why Peter had to raise money to fight a U-rating that clearly was motivated by his union activities. And yes do explain why you refuse to use the Lamphere case publically - [you may laugh out loud at this point.]

So, one strand in out battle is to make the connection to political persecution of teachers, in particular union reps.

Another is on the failure of the Value-added methods, as Reality-based educator points out at Perdido St. School.

Another is the absolute waste of the disappeared $60 million at the turn around schools which Perdido and NYC Educator and Leonie Haimson are pointing out.

Key Blogs on this issue:  NYC Educator takes a shot at Gotham Schools coverage:
It's a disgrace that the state pushes baseless unproven nonsense, and a further disgrace that sleepy journalists can't be bothered to look beneath the surface and inform readers about it.
An emergency headline from vacationing Gotham Schools blares that we're going to lose a ton of money, but doesn't bother to inform readers of the limited purposes for which the money can be used.
This, of course, leaves readers with the impression the evil UFT is obfuscating so that the lazy worthless teachers won't be accountable. To balance this coverage, Gotham features a DOE employee in their community section telling what a great job the DOE is doing (along with the usual pontification from failed teacher Ruben Brosbe).
He gives the NY Times more credit for talking a bit about how the money is spent - or misspent. But there is not coverage like the truth pointed out by NYC:
....will replacing principals and half the staff change anything? Will subjecting teachers to even more useless staff development from the people who close schools and have no idea how to improve them help students?In fact, there are 33 so-called transformation schools getting almost two million each a year in these funds, and reports have been less than glowing. Firsthand reports tell me teachers are miserable, the schools are not better places for anyone, and the Danielson framework is a truncheon to beat staff into submission, or more likely to beat staff for no reason whatsoever. Shall we pursue further funds to expand this practice citywide?
OK, he does claim the UFT is hanging tough and maybe they are, but as RBE points out in a comment more along my line of thinking:
As for the evaluation system fight, I hope the UFT sticks to its guns on this, but I fear there will be a last minute deal that sells out teachers.  Leo Casey will hail this deal as "scraping the skies" it is so good (as he once hailed the odious 2005 contract which is the root of so many of the problems we have in the system these days - esp. the ATR problem.)  
The UFT either cannot or will not frame the battle as you have framed it, NYC.  This  RttT money is worse than useless, as it cannot be used for meaningful and useful things like books, smaller classes, etc. It can only be used for harmful things that Bloomberg and his corporate cronies love and make money off of - like new standardized tests, testing materials, data tracking, data tracking systems, online education programs, firing teachers and extending the school day for more Pearson-approved test prep. Frankly I have to assume that the UFT leadership is NOT interested in framing the Race to the Top money for what it is - a corporate education reform bonanza that will mean more money for Pearson, McGraw-Hill, News Corporation, Microsoft, etc. and is meant to bust the unionized public school systems and promote non-unionized charter schools
 So why won't the UFT take on RTTT? and the NYSED?  Well, there's that Obama endorsement coming this summer. And then there is the fact that the UFT/AFT have historically supported a whole lot of the ed deform program, including massive teacher eval programs sponsored in partnership with Bill Gates. Why? Well, maybe a long story that I'm still working out in my head. But they do want that seat at the table and they do not have the internal organizational strength (due to total lack of democracy as one reason) to engage in a war with the powers that be. But the praise for John King and Merryl Tisch is sickening.

More blogs:
NYC Educator: We Don't Follow No Stinking Rules

A bunch of recent blogs from Pedidio Street Schools:

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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