I had the opportunity (I wish I could say the pleasure) of speaking to a higher-up at the UFT this week. When I was done, I was firmly convinced that a sell-out on the new evaluation system is virtually a done deal.
Before meeting with this official, I knew that I had to get one question answered for sure: Will the UFT sign off on an evaluation deal in the absence of a new contract agreement? While this official, hereinafter known as the Hack, would not give me a straight yes or no (big shock), he eventually conceded that the deal could be added to the current contract without a vote of the membership. It's the first time I have heard an actual Hack admit this.
Now, you may say that this admission doesn't necessarily mean that a sell out is in the works. You might reason that just because they can do it doesn't mean they will do it. Silly you.
I asked Hack why on Earth we'd give away the only bargaining chip we have. His answer was we can't afford to lose that $300 million dollars in state aid. And why not? Because if we did, there would be layoffs. Thousands of them, he said.
Really? Not even Mayor4Life Bloomberg, for whom threatening layoffs almost qualifies as a hobby, has made that threat. Dennis Walcott just this week spoke of the cuts that would have to be implemented should a deal fail to materialize, and nowhere did he mention layoffs. So why is Hack saying such a thing?
Simple. The UFT wants to generate fear among its members so that when it cuts a deal without getting a new contract, it can claim a victory because it saved jobs. They did the same thing when selling the horrific 2005 contract--they sent DRs and other hacks into schools to raise the specter of layoffs so that teachers would ratify that turd of a contract. And ratify it, we did.
Another interesting--and shocking--thing that Hack told me is that we have to agree to this evaluation system because no other organization he can think of has just 1% of its members rated unsatisfactory, and that has to change.
Is it really possible that a UFT higher up believes that its the union's job to ensure that a greater number of teachers are fired? That's essentially what he said. It's a PR nightmare, he said, that so few teachers are U rated, and the papers will vilify us if we don't change that. It made me wonder if Hack even reads the papers, because we are vilified on a daily basis.
Rather than throw its members to the wolves, why doesn't the UFT publicize the fact that fully half of all teachers either leave voluntarily or are "guided out" of the profession before they reach year five? Is there any other profession in which half of those who start end up gone? Why doesn't the UFT mention that long term teachers have already put in many years of satisfactory service to get where they are? Why is the UFT talking up the talking points of the city? Why don't they tell the simple truth that the vast majority of teachers who make it past the first 5 years are genuinely great at what they do?
So, you heard it here first. The UFT will agree to an evaluation plan that uses the discredited VAM scores to get rid of teachers. More teachers than ever will be fired. And in exchange for all of that, we will most certainly not get the 8% we are due (although Hack was careful to claim that PERB may save the day, and some future mayor may come to the rescue).
I hope I am wrong, but when Unity sends the big-gun hacks out to schools to try to scare teachers into passively accepting a crappy deal, you know said deal is in the works. When it comes to sellouts. no one does it better than Unity.