Why didn't you fight for us to keep our mid-winter recess when you knew the state legislature was going to waive the 180 day requirement for state funding?
- What Unity says: The state law is the law. We needed to act quickly to make sure we protected our members who have already paid for vacations.
- The Truth: This was an easy sell-out. They didn't want the bad press that might result if they pushed the state to do the right thing.
Why are you content to "wait out" Mayor Bloomberg's term before making any serious attempts to get your members a fair contract?
- What Unity says: The mayor has no interest in signing a contract with us. We are better off waiting for a "teacher friendly" mayor.
- The Truth: Unity has no interest in a fight. Teachers have already been without contract for three years, and likely five by the time a new mayor signs with us. What are the odds that we will get the 8% we are due for the past two years that all other unions got, plus any other kind of increase over those additional three years of wait time? Besides that, does anyone else recall when Unity told us they were waiting out Giuliani and we ended up with Bloomberg? Or when we backed mayoral control and refused to endorse Bill Thompson when we had a chance to end Bloomberg's immoral third term purchase?
- What Unity says: We wanted a seat at the table. If we didn't negotiate with the state, they would have implemented their own evaluation system without us and it would have been worse. Besides, we gained 700 million dollars in RttT funds.
- The Truth: It was a public relations stunt. Unity wanted to look like collaborators, not fighters. We could easily have resisted any attempts to impose an evaluation system on us, because we have a contract that could not be invalidated by state law. None of the money that we "gained" in RttT funds is going to the classrooms as far as anyone can tell, but it will be used to put evaluations in place and testing in every grade and subject area. This will cost FAR more over time than the $700 million the state received. Many districts are reporting that RttT will cost them more than ten times what they are receiving in funding.
- What Unity says: We actually did better than the rest of the state. Many teachers in NYS will have 40% of their evaluation based on test scores, while NYC teachers will have 20% based on test scores and 20% on "local measures" that we must sign off on.
- The Truth: 20% of crap is still crap. In addition, if you are rated ineffective according to VAM, you will be rated ineffective no matter how high you score on other measures, effectively making test scores the sole determinant of whether a teacher can be rated ineffective and subject to firing.
- What Unity says: We have a mechanism in place that allows us to challenge up to 13% of ineffective ratings. That will ensure that we can look, case by case, and determine who has been unfairly targeted and make sure they get a fair hearing.
- The Truth: Before the union "won" the right to challenge 13% of teacher ratings, 100% of unsatisfactory ratings could be challenged. Any teacher charged with incompetence and brought to a 3020A hearing had the right to due process--this meant that the burden of proving incompetence rested with the city. When the new system is in place, 87% of teachers who are labeled "ineffective" will now have the burden of proof placed on them--in other words, teachers will have to prove they are competent, which is a virtual impossibility given that the DOE controls the data.
What has Unity done for its members lately?
- What Unity says: We have preserved tenure. We have ended the rubber rooms. We have made sure that ATRs have kept their jobs. We have averted layoffs.
- The Truth: On Tenure--when the new evaluation system is in place, tenure will still exist but no longer matter because teachers who are rated ineffective will have to prove their competence (see previous question). On the rubber rooms--they were always punitive in nature and contained a high percentage of older and minority teachers, which was discriminatory and should have been the subject of a massive discrimination lawsuit against the city. On ATRs--while ATRs have jobs, they aren't real teaching jobs. They are working as very temporary subs and abused as they are sent from school to school without hope of landing a steady position. Prior to Unity selling off seniority rights, there was no such thing as an ATR. On layoffs--while there have been no layoffs per se, we have lost more than 5000 positions to attrition in the last several years, which certainly can be viewed as de facto layoffs. These losses have led to greater class sizes citywide at a time when teachers are being held more and more accountable for test scores.
- What Unity says: Our situation is different than the CTU. Because of the Taylor law, we can't strike. Instead, we will continue some of our usual campaigns, such as asking members to wear red when they are angry.
- The Truth: Unity is more interested in retaining power than taking any positive action on behalf of its members. If Unity actually educated its members on the issues, and got them to take action, they might wake up and realize that they can also take control of their own union and vote out any caucus that doesn't have the members' best interests at heart. They just might vote for the MORE caucus, whose mission statement seems to be just common sense, but it is completely opposite of the way the Unity caucus operates.