Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Seat at the Table

Let's face it--the new evaluation deal is a done deal. The Unity leadership really can't oppose it, because they partnered with the DOE and the state in designing the thing in the first place. In their rush to support the Race to the Top application, the UFT took their usual "seat at the table". That's a phrase made popular among the UFT brass by erstwhile president Randi Weingarten, who often used that phrase to convince teachers that it was better to be involved in our own demise than to have it done to us. It's sort of like giving a condemned prisoner his choice of a last meal--it doesn't prevent the inevitable, but it makes it a tiny bit easier to swallow.

The only hope for teachers is if the DOE somehow blows up this deal and blames the UFT (which is a possibility) and the membership decides to throw the bums out and vote for the MORE caucus, which opposes any evaluation system based on standardized test scores. That's a slim hope, but it gets fatter if teachers like you discuss it within your schools.

If that doesn't happen, then the only way Unity should sign a deal is if it includes, at the very least, the 4+4% the city already owes us, a raise for the next year as well, and a contract that takes us all the way through the Bloomberg era.

Let me be clear--I would oppose such a deal. No amount of money is worth surrendering tenure, which is what the APPR effectively does. I would vote against any deal that includes standardized testing and the junk science VAM as a component. I say I would vote against it, but I can't, because the Unity stuffed delegate assembly decided, in their infinite wisdom, that teachers shouldn't be allowed to vote on an issue that fundamentally alters our contract and our working conditions.

In other words, the Unity brass always want to have a seat at the table, but they are going to deny you one. The only seat you're likely to get from Mulgrew is the electric chair, as Unity straps you down and pulls the lever on the new evaluation system. And make no mistake--this evaluation system will mean the death of thousands of careers in the first few years.

You won't even get a last meal.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Contract Buzz

Can you hear it? The low, droning sound that indicates a contract may be near?

I've heard it. I have no idea if it's true, but I remember there was a buzz last time the UFT was about to pull the trigger on a deal, and it turned out to be true. Many younger readers may not have even been around then, as the last time we actually signed a contract, it was 2007. But the buzz was there.

And it's back. I'm hearing it in my building today. I emailed a friend of mine in another building to find out if he heard it, and he had. The buzz is all over.

Of course, it may mean nothing, but I can tell you this. Both my friend and I got the old "wink wink nudge nudge" from our CLs. Is the UFT hinting to chapter leaders that they should prepare the membership for a deal?

Let's face it. Mulgrew wants a deal. The city wants the evaluation system. Sooner or later, they will have to come to terms. Why not now, while there is $250 million on the table? It might be too much for Bloomie to pass on, and he may not get it absent a contract.

I have no idea what the alleged terms are, other than it's not going to be the 4+4% other unions got for nothing. It may be spread out over time. It may not include retro money. Who knows?

The only thing for certain is that if there is a deal, it will include the awful VAM portion that will end up getting a lot of teachers fired. A raise won't do you much good on the unemployment line.

If the rumor is true, my vote will be pretty simple. I will vote no on any contract that doesn't give us a full 8% plus retro that we are entitled to, and I will vote no on any deal that includes VAM, no matter what the money terms are.

Of course, that won't matter, as any contract that offers any kind of pay increase will be voted in with 90% or more in favor.

You heard that buzz here first.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why Does the UFT Sounds Like E4E?

This piece on the MORE caucus blog, entitled No Deal for Teachers or Students, makes it clear that the UFT is sounding more like an arm of E4E these days than it is an organization standing up for teachers' rights.

Mulgrew's people and E4E both want to put in place an evaluation system that uses value-added junk science as a major chunk of a teacher's score. This means that if you fail the junk science part two years running, you can be terminated in 60 days:

A teacher who fares poorly on the 40% of the evaluation that includes VAM test scores cannot be rated effective, regardless of how effective he or she is deemed to be by administrator evaluations.

This is utter nonsense. Our union should be trying to stop this, not looking for ways to implement it.

MORE in unequivocal on this issue. They oppose any evaluation system based on this crap. You should, too.

The only way to stop Mulgrew from selling off our rights is to make it clear that we will vote against him if he sells us out on this bogus system. Tell your CL and especially your colleagues that MORE is fighting for a better way.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bloomberg Supports Gun Owners While Bashing Teachers

Bloomberg is one of the leading advocates for gun reform in this country. In fact, this is about the only thing on which I agree with the little emperor. We do need ways of keeping track of who owns an AK 47 and who's out there buying enough ammunition to wipe out a small town (or a school).

So you would think Mayor4Life would support the idea of publishing the names of gun owners in the papers. After all, this is public information that can be obtained legally elsewhere, so why would gun owners object? But when asked, he said, "My instincts would be no..."

Really? Suddenly this mayor is against publishing information in the papers? He certainly wasn't against it when it came to trying to publicly humiliate teachers by publishing flawed Teacher Data Report scores in the papers, even though his hand picked chancellor promised in writing that he would publicly fight against the release of the data, even if it meant going to court to support teacher privacy.

Of course, that didn't actually happen. What did happen was that the TDRs were FOILed, and the city actually pushed for the data to be released, even though they had promised not to allow it and even though they knew the data was horribly inaccurate.

And this mayor is so intent on making sure teacher data gets published in the papers that he is willing to walk away from the $250 million the city would get from a new evaluation agreement because he wouldn't be able to "hold teachers' feet to the fire".

So why not publish the names of registered gun users, Mr. Mayor? You certainly never promised the NRA that you'd never do so.

It can't be because the data would be inaccurate. I'm sure gun permit records are quite accurate in NY. Even if the data was wildly inaccurate, the mayor should object, since he supported the release of TDRs that varied more than 90% in a year.

Could it really be that Bloomberg hates teachers so much that he'd rather defend people building personal arsenals that could wipe out a school or a theater full of people in minutes?

I think it could.