Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The Union Must Stay Strong And Resist The Bullying Tactics By Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, & Commissioner King.
There is no doubt that the Governor, Mayor, and the State Education Department's (SED) Commissioner are bullying the teacher unions in accepting a flawed, untested, and objectionable "teacher evaluation system". Even the Principals across the State (except for the Leadership Academy Principals in New York City) have signed a petition asking that the "teacher evaluation system" be delayed until a pilot program is completed and evaluated. Commissioner King's response was to ignore the petition and go full steam ahead with a 40% testing component that almost all educators find objectionable. The result was that NYSUT went to court to block the 40% testing component and won an injunction. Furthermore, the DOE & UFT could not agree on the use of an Independent Arbitrator to determine if the teacher was really "ineffective" or was simply targeted by the Principal. In turn the DOE walked out of the talks and refused to have the disagreement mediated. The result was a major temper tantrum by the State Department of Education who blamed the unions for the impasse and the poor decisions by their own people.
Enter Governor Andrew Cuomo who backed Commissioner King and went on to say that the union influenced State Assembly did a disservice by requiring union approval. Now he is trying to bully the unions by issuing a 30 day ultimatum for NYSUT to drop their lawsuit on the 40% testing requirement and the UFT to submit to the DOE's appeal process with DOE approved hearing officers, similar to the "U" rating appeals. The Governor is trying to unravel the educational mess that he and the State Department of Education caused in the first place. Moreover, the Governor is trying to bribe the unions by adding money to the school districts that have a "teacher evaluation system" and punish them by withholding funds to school districts who cannot come to agreement with their unions.
The combination of the Governor, the Mayor, SED, and the news media onslaught might make the unions buckle but it is important that they stand firm and pressure the State Legislature to resist the bullying tactics and make sure that a fair "teacher evaluation system" is approved and if that means 4% less money for New York State schools in the short term, so be it. Protecting teacher "due process rights" and making sure that our students have a stable and experienced teaching staff is the priority here. Without teacher "due process" look for a constant teacher turnover as "newbie teachers" replaced experienced teachers at the expense of student academic achievement. It is "children first" isn't it Governor?