Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Newark Teacher Issues Warning to NYC Teachers on Contract -

It is more than mere coincidence that the challenges of the “historic” Newark contract are now being exported to New York City teachers. Do not allow Randi Weingarten to dance the minuet at your reception..... A Newark Teacher
Has Randi evolved into a whirling dervish?

Randi’s Dance Repertoire
by A Newark Teacher

In an interview with Josh Eidelson of Salon, Randi danced the hora, circling round and round the issues as she staunchly defended Bill Gate’s Common Core baby. 
… the problem is the Common Core has been associated with testing rather than the deeper learning intended to promote... So you have a massive implementation failure that has masked the potential of these standards to help the transition from rote memorization in schools, to helping kids become critical thinkers and knowledge-appliers…
Instead of managing a process that is supposed to be professionally driven, [Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson] walked away from it, and is embarked upon a process to privatize the Newark system....The contract had some strong protections for Newark educators… pieces of pay based upon test scores, which our folks in Newark were willing to do…That contract had enough significant protections that Cami Anderson tried to waive those protections.... Randi Weingarten 
For some reason unbeknownst to Randi, Common Core has come to be associated with standardized testing. Always willing to be helpful, I will take a stab at analyzing the conundrum. The raison d’etre for Common Core is to create a national education market for Microsoft, Pearson and others to hawk their instructional and assessment products. Common Core provides the adhesive for a highly profitable enterprise.

A problematic implementation of the Common Core has impeded the progression from rote memorization to deep critical thinking. Let me ask my readers! Back in the day when you were in school, was your experience comprised primarily of rote learning? I can recall, off hand, memorizing number facts and multiplication tables. On occasion, we had to learn sacred text by heart;
We hold these truths to be self-evident
Four score and seven years ago
I have a dream that my four little children
Two roads diverged in a wood
Hold fast to dreams. For if dreams die
In the years I have been teaching, less and less emphasis has been placed on what came to be called “drill and kill.” It often seemed to me that we had moved too far in the direction of, “Let’s figure out the reason for everything.” In Randi’s world far removed from the public schools of the United States, Common Core has been hampered by an improper rollout. If we were to re-roll it baby, all of our children would be writing profoundly critical information essays on the texts they have closely read and annotated for the zillionth time.

Back on the home front in Newark, State Superintendent Cami Anderson was gravely disappointed to learn that she did not hit all her targets for her bonus. As per, Cami missed two quantitative goals. Surprise, surprise, the renew schools did not outperform the schools they replaced. Unfortunately, not even one renew school showed significant growth in achievement. Jane David reported in Educational Leadership that the research shows that renew schools in other cities are not faring much better.

Although I am certainly no education researcher, the whole premise of the Turnaround Theory looks shaky to me. OK, so you hire a new principal, throw out all the teachers, rehire less than half the old teachers, bring on board a bunch of newbies, keep all the same students and presto all the children will turn into super-duper test takers.

To explain the Newark fiasco, Randi switched gears to the fancy foot work of a tango as she harkened back to the implementation theme.

According to Randi, it was not she who sowed the seeds of the Newark predicament and the contract she termed "historic" was not flawed. 

No, it was Governor Chris Christie, sitting at the helm of the state run district, who did not implement the contract with fidelity. If only Chris and Cami had followed the letter and the spirit of the contract, a nasty plan like One Newark, which provides for the possible firing of a third of the teaching force, would never have come to fruition. 

Randi was instrumental in negotiating the contract, which featured "pieces of pay based upon test scores" and then she rammed it down the throats of Newark teachers. I, personally, received two phone calls from national AFT staffers attempting to overcome my objections to the contract.
In the Spring 2014 issue of American Educator Randi opined,
As a data point, VAM is informative; as a high-stakes measurement used to sort, rank, and evaluate teachers-it is wrong.
Let me see I can get this straight. For the purposes of the Newark contract in the Fall of 2012, Randi favored VAM.

In the Spring of 2014, Randi opposed VAM.

Then, earlier this week, Randi lavished praise on Newark teachers for taking the merit pay plunge and accepting evaluations partially based on VAM.

Has Randi evolved into a whirling dervish?

May I offer a word of caution to my brothers and sisters in New York City? Be very wary of efforts to loosen tenure protections for ATRs.

Do not for one minute think that the weakened union contract provisions afforded to one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred schools today will not arrive at your school tomorrow. I was an Employee Without Placement (the Newark version of ATR) for a year and it was a very insecure existence.

In my view, merit pay is divisive, poisoning the atmosphere with a competitive ingredient that does not foster the cooperation necessary among teachers to build academic achievement. It is more than mere coincidence that the challenges of the “historic” Newark contract are now being exported to New York City teachers. Do not allow Randi Weingarten to dance the minuet at your reception.

A Newark Teacher


Anonymous said...

Very beautifully stated. Yep, I clearly remember Randi at a DA announcing that she is just trying to be Talmudic. Thanks, a lot of questioning that the members don't need. They need compensation that is honest and viable in NYC in 2014, the new gilded age of lies, plutocracy and the oligarcy.

Anonymous said...

It seems that all of Randi's contracts are not followed.....The DC contract with Rhee led to so many firings. Even our own '05 contract was a disaster and the pay raise didn't make working conditions any better under Klein. I believe Colorado also had problems with their contract which btw all allowed for VAM. Randi is dancing around in circles pointing the finger at everyone else except in her own direction. The ATR provision included in this contract is setting a bad example for the future. My question is, was this provision put forth by Mulgrew or the DoE? We are already learning that Mulgrew was okay with all of Danielson, but the DoE wasn't. So what's the real story behind the ATR provisions??