Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Speech at UFT Exec Bd Urging They Take a Dive Off Edu Cliff and Not Succumb to Cuomo Blackmail - And I Get Sick From the Food as a Reward

OK. I plead guilty to breaking my own rule -- avoiding UFT Ex bd meetings. But since MORE had a meeting in the neighborhood beforehand on Monday night, I figured I might as well head over for the free dinner. And then I thought I might as well call up and ask for a few minutes of speaking time on the ed eval cliff which James Eterno talked about on the ICE blog and got lots of comments (LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL ON THE NEW EVALUATION SYSTEM & CONTRACT).

I came equipped with research. Carol Burris (LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL ON THE NEW EVALUATION SYSTEM & CONTRACT) and Gary Rubinstein (VAM gets Slammed: Teacher Evaluation Not A Game of Chance). A principal and a teacher who point out the junk science of VAM and the entire ed eval process. It is interesting that when you bring up the deficiencies of VAM you get doubletalk (from Randi/AFT/Mulgrew/UFT) or blank states (E4E).

Well, I'm happy to report that all I got as I spoke to the UFT Exec Bd were E4E-like blank stares. Here is an audio of what I said.

Also uploaded at:

I suspect the UFT will cave, despite my attempt to buck up their spines.

I heard one report about a visit from some UFT officials who were using the Walcott/Bloomberg threat of layoffs as a wedge to weasel out of standing firm. I mean why should WalBloom have to do the heavy lifting when they have the UFT leadership to do it for them? Look for them to be in your school soon selling the same old song. RBE at Perdido St. School has a good take on these threats (Walcott's Threats To Fire Guidance Counselors And Social Workers, Cut Programs "Unconscionable") where he concludes:
I am of the opinion that the UFT leadership, having already caved to the governor last February on this crap, will cave to Chancellor Walcott come late December.
What they ought to be doing is framing the issue exactly the way NYC Educator framed the issue here - the UFT wants a fair, rigorous evaluation of teachers, not a system that is rigged, inaccurate and baseless.

Unfortunately they've been letting Walcott and the corporate reform-friendly editorialists frame the issue for them.

So I suspect they will come to the membership in a couple of weeks and say "Gee, we wanted to hold out for a better system, but we were getting killed in the papers and we just couldn't allow Walcott and Bloomberg to put through these cuts, so welcome to APPRville."
RBE's prediction is coming sooner than even he thought. Expect a visit soon to your school to soften the blow. Of course the UFT leadership has to do all this as the UFT election season is about to open, which gives me a sneaky suspicion they may use Sandy as an excuse to push the election timetable back a few months to give things time to settle while they send their Unity troops into the schools to "splain" things. I mean, do they really want ballots going out a week or 2 after the disappearance of the Feb. break?

I rarely even bother going to UFT Exec Bd meetings because talking to Unity clones is such a waste of time. But they have this time at the beginning of the meeting where any member can call in advance and get time to speak, a practice initiated by an email exchange I had about 8 years ago with Randi Weingarten where I suggested a bigger role for members at these meetings but which she turned into a basically useless exercise for people to vent at an EBrd that is not interested in listening. I was the first to use this venting time and did so repeatedly until I finally gave it up – for religious reasons - I was worried I would violate the "Shou not kill" commandment. Or I had to stay home to do my hair. At the very least, I used to get a good meal out of going to these meetings. Actually, in some sense of irony, they held their meetings on the same days that the PEP met and I actually had more fun razzing Uncle Joel than Randi, so I shifted my activities to the PEP even though you couldn't get a cookie -- and at that time was the only one from the UFT there other than a few other stray teachers.

Well, after I spoke this past Monday to zero reaction, I made sure to eat, which after all was my original purpose in going. Well, I have been suffering from some heart burn recently but the mashed potatoes and pasta went down OK, though that giant, slathered with greasy sauce rib was a bit much -- and a bit much on my shirt too (if I ever eat without getting stuff on my clothes I'm throwing a party.) I went to get dessert and the meeting ended before I came back. Did Mendel want to get home to see the giant game? Well so did I. The long trip on the train to my car in Brooklyn and the rest of the way home was fine. The Giant game was fine until it wasn't. And at the moment things began to go downhill for Eli, my stomach began to go downhill too. And then the headache came. And the chills and cold sweat and a full night of barfing -- every time I thought of that giant saucy rib I had to run off to toss. Finally I got some real sleep early in the morning and spent most of Tuesday achy and sleepy. I went to sleep at 4PM and went through the night, waking up Weds. at 8AM, real late for me. Hell, I need to be up early as I still have sheet rock to blast.

My wife is convinced something was put in my food while I was speaking and the blank stares were really smirks at knowing what I was in for. She thinks I should take a food taster if I ever go back to an Exec Bd meeting. Hmmm, I hope she isn't getting any ideas.

Back to reality: Check out

Arthur Goldstein on Schoolbook:
No Value in Value Added
Critics beat the drums against any kind of value-added metric in a final deal on teacher evaluations despite an assumption by both department officials and union leaders that some percentage of a teacher's performance review will be based on student test scores and other measurements. Read More »

Leonie Haimson:

From the invaluable Bruce Baker of Rutgers. See esp. letter from NYSED below, approving a district teacher evaluation plan but then threatening to impose a “corrective action” plan if any component of its evaluation system, either its 20% based on local “assessments or the 60% based on observation etc does not does not “correlate” highly with a teacher’s growth scores, based on the state exams.  These growth scores have already found by the consulting company that devised them to be biased against educators who teach kids with low prior scores.

In order, test scores do trump all. With this pronouncement, no rational teacher or principal should want to work in a school with a high-poverty population, or teach low-scoring kids, and/or students with disabilities. A bigger disincentive could not be devised to work in high-needs schools – exactly the opposite of the ostensible goals of the so-called “reform” movement.

schoolfinance101 posted: "This post is a follow up on two recent previous posts in which I first criticized consultants to the State of New York for finding substantial patterns of bias in their estimates of principal (correction: School Aggregate) and teacher (correction: Classro"
Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on School Finance 101

It’s time to just say NO! More thoughts on the NY State Tchr Eval System

This post is a follow up on two recent previous posts in which I first criticized consultants to the State of New York for finding substantial patterns of bias in their estimates of principal (correction: School Aggregate) and teacher (correction: Classroom aggregate) median growth percentile scores but still declaring those scores to be fair and accurate, and next criticized the Chancellor of the Board of Regents for her editorial attempting to strong-arm NYC to move forward on an evaluation system adopting those flawed metrics - and declaring the metrics to be "objective" (implying both fair and accurate).

Despite the model conditioning on prior year test scores, schools and teachers with students who had higher prior year test scores, on average, had higher MGPs. Teachers of classes with higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students had lower MGPs. (p. 1)
In other words... if you are a teacher who so happens to have a group of students with higher initial scores, you are likely to get a higher rating, whether that difference is legitimately associated with your teaching effectiveness or not. And, if you are a teacher with more economically disadvantaged kids, you're likely to get a lower rating. That is, the measures are biased - modestly - on these bases.
Despite these findings, the authors of the technical report chose to conclude:
The model selected to estimate growth scores for New York State provides a fair and accurate method for estimating individual teacher and principal effectiveness based on specific regulatory requirements for a “growth model” in the 2011-2012 school year. p. 40
I provide far more extensive discussion here!  But even a modest bias across the system as a whole can indicate the potential for substantial bias for underlying clusters of teachers serving very high poverty populations or very high or very low prior scoring students. In other words, THE MEASURE IS NOT ACCURATE - AND BY EXTENSION - IS NOT FAIR!!!!! Is this not obvious enough?
The authors of the technical report were wrong - technically wrong - and I would argue morally and ethically wrong in providing NYSED their endorsement of these measures!  You just don't declare outright, when your own analyses show otherwise, that a measure [to be used for labeling people] is fair and accurate!  [setting aside the general mischaracterization that these are measures of "teacher and principal effectiveness"]
Within a few days after writing this post, I noticed that Chancellor Merryl Tisch of the NY State Board of Regents had posted an op-ed in the NY POST attempting to strong-arm an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system between NYC teachers and the city. In the op-ed, the Chancellor opined:
The student-growth scores provided by the state for teacher evaluations are adjusted for factors such as students who are English Language Learners, students with disabilities and students living in poverty. When used right, growth data from student assessments provide an objective measurement of student achievement and, by extension, teacher performance.
As I noted in my post the other day, one might quibble that Chancellor Tisch has merely stated that the measures are "adjusted for" certain factors and she has not claimed that those adjustments actually work to eliminate bias - which the technical report indicates THEY DO NOT. Further, she has merely declared that the measures are "objective" and not that they are accurate or precise. Personally, I don't find this deceitful propaganda at all comforting! Objective or not - if the measures are biased, they are not accurate and if they are not accurate they, by extension are not fair.
Sadly, the story of misinformation and disinformation doesn't stop here. It only gets worse! I received a copy of a letter yesterday from a NY school district that had its teacher evaluation plan approved by NYSED. Here is a portion of the approval letter:
NYSED Letter
Now, I assume this language to be boilerplate. Perhaps not. I've underling the good stuff. What we have here is NYSED threatening that they may enforce a corrective action plan on the district if the district uses any other measures of teacher or principal effectiveness that are not sufficiently correlated WITH THE STATE'S OWN BIASED MEASURES OF PRINCIPAL AND TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS!
This is the icing on the cake!  This is sick- warped- wrong!  Consultants to the state find that the measures are biased, and then declare they are "fair and accurate." The Chancellor spews propaganda that reliance on these measures must proceed with all deliberate speed! (or ELSE!!!!!!!). Then the Chancellor's enforcers warn individual district officials that they will be subjected to mind control - excuse me - departmental oversight - if they dare to present their own observational or other ratings of teachers or principals that don't correlate sufficiently with the state imposed, biased measures.
I really don't even know what to say anymore??????????
But I think it's time to just say no!

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