Friday, December 7, 2012

On the Coming Teacher Evaluation Sellout

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.


Guest said...

Frightening indeed - especially since the vast majority of teachers have not a clue as to what might be arriving - not a clue! 

Nycdoenuts said...

Sorry. They sent the hack to your school to get this point across? Nice move on their part. I can't believe they're going to get away with this and yet I see that they will. How depressing.

I hope your readers take the wack-a-mole approach when these people pop their heads up at schools.

Norm said...

I still think there may be some money to bribe teachers into going along with this -- like they did in Newark, DC, etc. WIth 50% of teachers leaving within 5 years why wouldn't they support this? And many others will take the money given the inevitibality which the UFT is selling. If there were ever a viable threat to the leadership from an opposition the entire climate might be different. A top Tweed official during the Chicago strike worriedly asked me if Mulgrew would ever do that here? I laughed. But if MORE could ever be CORE and start pulling 35, 40% of the vote that would shake the tree.

Budsky said...

I think the only possible way the city could bribe teachers into accepting a horrible new evaluation deal would be with cold, hard, cash. If that happens, then the teachers of NYC deserve the crappy deal that they get just like in Newark. However, the problem here is that Mulgrew is possible going to make this deal in secret as part of an amendment to our current contract which would not be voted upon by the rank and file. To me, that is the most despicable possible scenario. A new evaluation deal is something that will impact every single teacher for their entire lifetimes. Every single teacher in NYC will have a massive target on their back and will live in fear of loosing their livelihood based on flawed data and vindictive administrators. A new evaluation deal MUST BE VOTED on by the rank and file just like in Chicago and Newark. This needs to be a democratic process as the stakes are way to high to allow one man to jeopardize the ability for teachers with families to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Lastly, the saddest fact is that literally every single teacher in my school have no idea whatsoever that they are about to possibly wake up with their lives changed forever due to the secret deals made by their own union. Mulgrew has the chance to either make stand against a horrible deal, get the rank and file to have say, or be a sniveling snake and make a deal with the devil and sell out his own brethren. 

Augustus Talk said...

Based on my conversation with the Hack, I'd have to say I'd be absolutely shocked if the evaluation system was tied to a new contract with money. Hack was clearly trying to sell the idea that the evaluation system was inevitable and we needed to agree to save jobs--not that an agreement would bring money. In fact, he explicitly said that we'd be waiting for the next mayor as this one has no interest in signing with us.

DOEnuts--they didn't send Hack for the purpose of discussing evals--he was there on a different mission but I made sure he answered my questions instead of just saying what he wanted to say. I don't expect them to send Hacks into schools en masse, because they will sell us out right before the break and tell us it's a done deal.

Nycdoenuts said...

Then maybe MORE should be a little more vocal along these lines. The only petition against the APPR is one refuting it on philosophical principles. No offense, but rank and file are being prepared for this eval system at work. They're more concerned about having to do this with no raise than anything else. They'll all be surprised by the sellout, even betrayed and they'll want someone to blame -not for the system, but for having the system with no new contract.
If anything will get a third of the members identifying with the alternative to union leadership, it's that. Based on this post (visits to schools? Seriously?) I'd say Unity knows it how vulnerable they are the moment this is announced, Does MORE? Do you?
Just asking.

Anonymous said...

There will be no "firings" of current teaches if an evaluation deal is not reached. If the city does got get the 300 million, there may be some attrition of teachers but nobody will be laid off. Mulgrew does not need to sign on to a nightmare deal. In fact, the ball is in his court on this. The only fact that he would need to fear is that the press would be on his back. However, Mulgrew is supposed to work and represent the teachers of NYC. (Our union dues supplement his paycheck) He needs to realize that this a propaganda/press war and that he needs to step up to the plate and make a stand to REJECT any evaluation deal that is flawed and designed to fire teachers in huge numbers. If that means NYC "looses" money, so be it. Patience is key. Bloombucks wants to destroy the teaching profession in this city and privatize it as much as possible. If Mulgrew caves in, there may not even be a UFT in a few years. Who will need a union when tenure is meaningless and due process has been thrown out the door. Patience can win this war. Don't sell us out Mulgrew!!!

Anonymous said...

I teach a class of 32 with 24 current & 4 former ELLs. I am not a certified ESL/TESOL teacher and only 4 students are being pulled-out for ESL services.

To use last year's state test as the baseline against the upcoming Common Core stadards-based test to calculate my value-added is insane. The email sent to teachers from Shael about the anticipation of drops in scores tells me all I need to know about how many points I am likely to earn.

At work I continue to try my hardest every school day. At home I find myself wondering if I should be finding a lawyer asap or if there is any chance this school year will remain S/U?????

ed notes online said...

MORE has a reso at the DA this week calling for a vote. Hopefully some independent delegates will get the message and bring it back to their chapters.
What Unity does is spring a quick surprise with a short time notice before a special DA and ram it through. What recourse do people have to complain?

In my opinion it will take a Chicago style assault on teachers where they start getting fired en masse to rile people up enough do take action. That means in a year or two when the impact is felt. But since the higher priced teachers will be targeted and the UFT will cover it up without an underground communications net no one will know.
That is why in the long run the most important thing MORE can do is to set up this kind of net to be ready for the future. What people need to do is plug into this net.
Question will be if MORE develops the resources to execute this.

Francesco Portelos said...

You called it. 2500 layoffs due to budget cuts announced almost 2 months later.