Monday, January 21, 2013

Call on UFT to Release the MOU

Thanks, Marjorie. We should demand that the Union provide the MOU to the membership. We know that they will say that it will hurt their negotiating position but keeping the members in the dark will not soften the blow when the approved concessions are presented. This should be a major plank of our demands. --- Jeff Kaufman
Marjorie Stamberg does a nice job in calling out the UFT on releasing the memorandum of understanding (MOU) so we can see what they were willing to give up. But I'm sure we'll find out soon enough after the UFT signs whatever agreement they will sign while making sure the members never get to vote on it despite the fact that would change the contract. And given that Leroy Barr at the Dec. DA affirmed the right of members to vote on contracts, the UFT leadership will enter Leroy into the Bloomberg hall of liar shame.

But enough of my drivel. I too want the MOU, preferably with a quart of milk. I love Marjorie but get such a kick out of so many people on the left who always keep me entertained. At the very end Marjorie calls people like me who don't fight a revolutionary struggle against capitalism an instrument of capitalism. Guilty as charged. Scuse me, while I go check my portfolio, here is Marjorie followed by the great pretender, Leo Casey.
People should read the attached self-serving but revealing article from Leo Casey, formerly UFT vice president in charge of high schools, now executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute (!) at the AFT.
Even the big business press admits that a deal on teacher evaluations linked to student test scores fell through because Mayor Bloomberg complained it wouldn’t let him “fire bad teachers” wholesale. His “scientific” method for carrying out this union-busting scheme is teacher evals based on the junk science “value added model” which with its indecipherable algorithms is guaranteed to produce large numbers of “ineffective” ratings. In this, the billionaire Republican in City Hall is only following the lead of liberal Democrats Cuomo in the NY State House and Obama in the White House, who are trying to bribe and blackmail teachers into compliance.

In his presentation to the Delegate Assembly on Thursday, UFT president Mulgrew called Bloomberg a liar and went on at length about all the fabled safeguards that had been allegedly built into the tentative agreement that the mayor shot down. But he didn’t say a word about the content of the evals scheme that the union had agreed to.

In this piece from Casey’s blog Edwise, he gives an insider’s account of the negotiations. He reveals that at the last minute the NYC Department of Education sprung their draft application to the NYS Education Department, including “numerous scoring tables and conversion charts” which the union had never seen. Without a doubt, these scoring metrics would allow Bloomberg to fire at will, since that has always been his bottom line. But instead of breaking off negotiations, the union proceeded to negotiate with the DOE a “three-part agreement” saying that the union would have to sign off on student “growth formulas,” that “unfairly skewed ratings” would somehow be “recalibrated,” and a “special expedited appeals process” would be set up to deal with internally contradictory ratings.

The union leadership is afraid to tell us what the scoring criteria are, but all Casey is saying is that if there were a glaring contradiction between student test scores and principals’ “observations” (the other component of the evaluations) it could be appealed. Nothing about rejecting the DOE’s slimy metrics. So not only was the principle of linking teacher evaluations to student test scores agreed to, the DOE’s mathematical formulas for firing teachers were implicitly accepted, with an escape clause for when the principal disagreed. Basically, Mulgrew, Casey & Co. capitulated to Bloomberg and Walcott (backed up by Cuomo and Obama). The UFT tops were ready to sign off on a deal that would have been a betrayal of the teachers they supposedly represent, destroying any vestige of job security. But for Bloomberg, who has the mentality of a slave master, capitulation was not enough: he demanded total surrender.

Since according to Casey's account, a Memorandum of Understanding exists in some form, let the membership see what the union leadership was about to agree to -- publish the MOU!.

So in the end, it was the intransigence of the puffed-up dictator Bloomberg  which thwarted the treachery of the pro-capitalist union bureaucracy. He and his fellow denizens of Wall Street really do consider themselves to be “masters of the universe,” entitled by “management rights” to do whatever they please with “their” wage slaves. But it is not enough to oppose the sellouts of the union misleaders. Without a program to take on and defeat a united capitalist ruling class through hard class struggle, liberal and reformist union reformers would end up agreeing to a variant of the deal the UFT leadership okayed (but Bloomberg torpedoed). 

Either wage revolutionary struggle against capitalism, or become an instrument of capitalist rule: as Leon Trotsky outlined long ago, those are the only alternatives in this epoch of decaying capitalism, the supposed middle ground of reforming capitalism no longer exists. 

Caught In Their Own Web Of Deception and Deceit:
Bloomberg, the DOE and Teacher Evaluation Negotiations
After he blew up the teacher evaluation agreement that had been reached between the UFT and his own NYC DOE negotiating team, Mayor Bloomberg appeared at a hastily called press conference yesterday to spin an entirely fictional account of what had transpired. The UFT had made agreement impossible, he claimed, because of our unreasonable demands for more arbitration dates that would make it impossible to “fire bad teachers,” our “last minute” insistence upon a sunset clause that would have made the entire system a “joke,” and a “middle of the night” effort to change the scoring metrics for teacher evaluation so “no teacher” would be rated ineffective. Each of these claims is a lie, pure and simple. Here I will address the last two of Bloomberg claims, as I was personally involved in the negotiations around them.*
To finalize an agreement over teacher evaluations in New York, two different documents must be developed: a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which lays out in legal language the agreement between district and the union over the new evaluation system, and an application from the local school district to the New York State Education Department which provides scores of assurances that the specific evaluation plans laid out in the MOU conform to state law. Both the head of the school district and the head of the union must sign the local school district’s application. During the last week, as the UFT and the DOE met long into the night in an effort to reach agreement on the terms of the MOU, we asked, again and again, more insistently at each turn, to see the DOE’s draft of their application. It was not until late into Wednesday evening, barely 24 hours before the deadline, that the DOE finally gave us their draft of the application. When we read the draft, it quickly became apparent why they had resisted sharing it with us. Included in the draft were numerous scoring tables and conversion charts which the UFT was now seeing for the very first time. These tables and charts were very important: embedded in them were fundamental decisions about the shape of the evaluation system. By waiting until the very last minute to provide the union with these numbers, the DOE was trying to sandbag us: it was now impossible to properly vet those numbers before the deadline.
The UFT would have been completely justified in ending the negotiations, then and there. But we did not. Our Measures of Student Learning team met with our DOE counterparts and I met one-on-one with Deputy Chancellor Shael Suransky in efforts on our part to put together an agreement over the scoring numbers and ratings that would ensure that teachers would receive fair and accurate scores and ratings. Bloomberg’s description of these discussions could not be further from the truth: far from a last minute effort on the part of the UFT to change agreed upon scoring metrics, the union was doing everything it could to rescue the negotiations from a bad faith maneuver on the part of the DOE that could have easily derailed any agreement. We agreed to a three part solution: a joint UFT-DOE committee would have to approve the growth formulas which would be used for all of the measures of student learning; any scoring metric which unfairly skewed ratings would have to be recalibrated; and a special expedited appeals process would be established for final ratings which were not concordant with the different component ratings. On Thursday morning, I confirmed this three part agreement in a telephone conversation with Suransky. Over many years of working with the Bloomberg DOE, through the chancellorships of Joel Klein, Cathy Black and Dennis Walcott, I have seen a great deal of cynicism on the part of the mayor and the top DOE leadership, but Bloomberg’s lie that the UFT engaged in an 11th hour effort to undo agreed upon scoring metrics in an effort to protect “bad teachers” is surely a new low in misrepresentation.
The Mayor’s claim that the UFT introduced a “last minute” demand for a sunset clause on the agreement is refuted by the very draft application shared with us. On the very last line of this section of the draft application, the DOE itself had written that the agreement would only last through the 2013-2014 school year. The preponderance of applications from school districts around New York approved had similar sunset clauses: given the sheer complexity of the new teacher evaluation systems required by New York State law, they reasoned that it was only prudent to revisit their implementation in a year or two. All of these applications have been approved by the New York State Education Department. It was the Mayor who, after an agreement had been reached with a sunset clause, insisted on undoing that clause and blowing up the entire agreement. The Council of Supervisors and Administrators, negotiating for a new principal evaluation, also had their agreement blown up by Bloomberg on the very same issue.
18 January 2013
After two years of continuous efforts on the part of the UFT to negotiate a teacher evaluation system which would provide New York City public school teachers with the means to hone our skills and craft, and provide our students with the highest quality education, it is now painfully clear that Mayor Bloomberg has no intention of negotiating such an agreement.
* When the negotiations on teacher evaluation began two years ago, I was a UFT Vice President, and I served as co-chair of the union’s Teacher Evaluation Negotiations Committee. Last September I resigned my position as UFT Vice President to become the Executive Director of the Albert Shanker Institute at the American Federation of Teachers, the UFT’s national union, but I made a commitment to the UFT to see these negotiations to completion and remained involved in them.


NY_I said...

Release the MOU, for democracy's sake.

Anonymous said...

was the agreement set to inlude 2012-2013 or starting next year?