Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why is the UFT Ignoring This? Thoughts on Turnaround

REVEALING COMMENTS FROM 2 NYC PARENT ACTIVISTS:
I found it interesting that Elaine could not produce for me the language in the grants that mandates an evaluation system—you’d think the chief of turnaround would have it ready at hand, since that's what they're using to argue their hands are tied by the feds.

Why is the UFT ignoring this? --- Thoughts on turnaround, state and federal guidance.
 - email from parent activist Paola de Koch

Mulgrew was very up front w/ me that he supports continued if ameliorated mayoral control and wants to look at other cities where it is going well...
Yet his toadies near the top of the org will proclaim he is NOT! Are they misled? out of loop? guilty of wishful thinking?
----- Anon Parent activist in response to Paola
I cannot imagine they [the UFT] didn't see this coming and I find it very troubling that Mulgrew brushed off my question about the turnaround at the CEC presidents dinner. There's something that doesn't smell right here because you’d think they would be all over the "mass firings" required by the turnaround model. But they clearly are not-- although individual teachers at the turnaround schools are giving heartbreaking testimony about finding initiatives they spearheaded in the EIS’s for the” new schools” all the while not knowing whether they will be called back in the fall.  ---Paola

If you are confused about why the UFT functions the way it does, Vichy anyone?

You have to follow the bouncing ball on this email exchange between 2 parent activists who are scratching their heads at the UFT response, or lack of on the turn around model. One has to ask why a parent (as so many have been doing) is doing the basic kind of work the UFT should be doing?

Paola de Koch started the ball rolling with questions about the DOE implementation of the turn around model after conversations with the chief DOE office on that issue. Her entire email is the last item. (It's a bit long so I put it below under the ******).

Another parent (B) responded with this:
March 26, 12:02 PM
Excellent work- wow!

Can we try to get UFT attorneys on this?

Does anyone know Carol Gerstel well enough to reach out to her? I know Leonie does...as does David Bloomfield....

I was at that first OPA briefing last June where the restart model was introduced- turnaround too? and the DoE explained they'd need UFT buy in on the evaluation piece but were confident they'd get it before the deadline and were creating a turnaround CFN just for these EPO's or something like that- I have to find my notes because I may have garbled this...

Paola: 12:14PM
I certainly don't know Carol but I'm not sure how reaching out to the UFT attorneys will help. I cannot imagine they didn't see this coming and I find it very troubling that Mulgrew brushed off my question about the turnaround at the CEC presidents dinner. There's something that doesn't smell right here because you’d think they would be all over the "mass firings" required by the turnaround model. But they clearly are not-- although individual teachers at the turnaround schools are giving heartbreaking testimony about finding initiatives they spearheaded in the EIS’s for the” new schools” all the while not knowing whether they will be called back in the fall. I raised the issue of budget-busting ATRs vs. same allegedly lousy teachers recirculated through the turnaround schools with Elaine-- the pat answer is that the teachers will be "a better fit" !

I better stop before I have a fit!

Paola
Parent B responds at 12:23PM
I know, I know- the UFT is either an incredibly stupid and careless organization ((there may be some of that operating here) or there is a whole series of deals; horse trades; parries, feints and thrusts being played out on so many levels that we outsiders (and I include the membership and 90% of the UFT employees here) are not aware of that come into play in these "negotiations" and position formulations.

Mulgrew was very up front w/ me that evening that he supports continued if ameliorated mayoral control and wants to look at other cities where it is going well...

yet his toadies near the top of the org will proclaim he is NOT!

Are they misled? out of loop? guilty of wishful thinking?

Between doE and UFT we are all sunk- look at the past 10 years.

The 5 men in a room- (adding Mulgrew and Bloomberg to the traditional 3) has been a disaster for our schools, kids and communities.

No matter the personalities of say the UFT head or the Governor, etc the outcome is just plain disastrous.

Why parents and teachers don't rise up is beyond me!

************

Original email from Paola de Koch

March 26, 11:35 AM
Good morning all:
-- DOE makes it up as they go along, but they do have help from the state.
Here is the original (2010) state guidance document on the SIG grants and the four school improvement models:http://www.p12.nysed.gov/accountability/TitleI/sigfieldguidance.html
The New York State Education Department will provide LEAs with SIG grants under 1003(g) to facilitate implementation of one of the following four school intervention models in Tier I and Tier II schools:
  • Turnaround: Phase out and replace the school with a new school(s) or completely redesign the school, including replacing the principal and at least half the staff.  
  • Restart Model: Either convert a school to a charter school or replace a public school with a new charter school that will serve the students who would have attended the public school. Under certain circumstances, districts may also enter into contracts with the City University of New York or the State University of New York for them to manage public schools.
  • Transformation: Similar to the turnaround model, but with a requirement for an evaluation of staff effectiveness developed by the LEA in collaboration with teachers and principals that takes into account data on student growth, multiple observation-based assessments, and portfolios of professional activities. Evaluations would serve as the basis for rewarding effective teachers and removing ineffective teachers after ample professional development opportunities. A school that opts for a transformation model does not close but rather remains identified as persistently lowest-achieving until it demonstrates improved academic results. 
  • School closure: Close the school and enroll the students who attended the school in higher achieving schools in the LEA.
Note, by the way, that DOE keeps conflating the models and the SIG grants, which are two separate and distinct things. You (probably – even this is not certain) cannot have a SIG grants without a model, but you certainly can have a model without SIG grants.
I found it interesting that Elaine could not produce for me the language in the grants that mandates an evaluation system—you’d think the chief of turnaround would have it ready at hand, since that's what they're using to argue their hands are tied by the feds.   I went back and found the final US DOE regs published in Federal Register and updated guidance for the SIG grants:
http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/2010-27313.pdf
 http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/legislation.html#guidance

On a quick read, I cannot find the evaluation requirement but it's pretty dense stuff so that doesn't mean it's not there or cannot be construed as being there (will review more closely later).  The most likely scenario, though, is that the evaluation was a requirement added by the state (that's probably why the person who spoke with Noah attributed it to John King).  And note that the evaluation requirement is not in the restart model (which was applied in some of the schools now subject to turnaround), not even at the state level.  BTW, the PEP voted on Tuesday to fund the EPO’s there were given contracts under the restart model so they can continue working with the schools even after they go to turnaround.  Conclusion? 1) it's not really a matter of money or federal requirements; 2) they find the money if it's a matter of paying off private contractors (which may have been the fiscally prudent thing to do anyway in view of breach of contract suits).

 One thing to keep in mind: the language re: evaluations in the state guidance document is pretty ambiguous.  Although it explicitly says the transformation model requires “an evaluation of staff effectiveness” that would serve as the basis for rewarding/removing teachers, it's not clear at what point the evaluation system must be in place (the guidance recognizes that at least the reward part will occur “later in the process”).  What the guidance is unambiguous about, however, is that for transformation (and turnaround) model, “the principal must be replaced prior to the start of the 2010-2011 school year. There is no exception for retaining the principal was been in the school for more than two years.”  So what about Barry Fried, “longtime principal” of John Dewey HS, whom many wanted out as an ineffective leader a few years ago but is still in place even though the school went into transformation? I am sure there are similar situations elsewhere.  Yes, they make it up as they go along, picking and choosing the mandates they feel constrained by.

 Also, on page 2 of the guidance document, the state says that the funding is "contingent on the LEA's demonstrated capacity to implement the selected models and an approved application and budget that includes sufficient funds to implement the selected intervention fully and effectively in each school."  A reasonable construction of this rather opaque language is that NYC DOE must have demonstrated that it had money set aside to implement the models regardless of whether the federal funding came through.  If I'm right, the public is once again being taken for fools by DOE.

Enough boring, picky stuff for now.  But why is the UFT ignoring this?
Paola
I'm going to add this comment from Gary Rubinstein on Gotham Schools re: turnaround:

Gary Rubinstein wrote:
Mass Insight is a company has has made millions of dollars by convincing districts that they hold some magic secrets to school 'turnarounds.'  Certainly every school can improve with more resources and better management, but most schools won't improve by that much because they are already doing a 'good' job under the constraints they face.

But any plan should be the 'least invasive' necessary.  Why fire more teachers than you have to, considering that the instability that results from massive staff turnovers has adverse affects on students?

So the Mass Insight guy says that it is better to err on the side of too much firing.  He admits, though, that there is 'nothing magic about 50 percent,' which is something everyone knows but I'm glad to see someone from that perspective saying it.

For the US DOE SIG grants, which they are currently touting as a great success, 75% of the schools chose not to fire half their staffs.  So even with the option to, they didn't because they knew that this would not be the best way to 'turn around' these schools.  Such reckless activity would likely make the schools worse.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that parents are saying what the majority of teachers are afraid to admit--something doesn't smell right over at UFT headquarters!!

    ReplyDelete

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