The State's "Teacher Evaluation System" is a flawed, untested, and a "work in progress". If that was not bad enough, it now seems that if the State gets its way, teachers will be held responsible for students who fail to attend school! That's right, if a student decides to be truant and fails to show up to school for a substantial part of the school year, the State's proposal is that the truant student's lack of academic progress will be part of the teacher's grade. Unbelievable, but unfortunately, true.
Interestingly, the UFT has remained silent on this "fatal flaw" in the State's "Teacher evaluation system". Even the union's defender of the faith, Leo Casey has ignored the student attendance issue. The question is did Leo Casey not understand this problem or decided not to alert the affected members of what can be a devastating evaluation of teachers who have no control of truant students but will have their scores affected by them? While the union may believe they can negotiate the student attendance issue with the DOE, the reality is that Tweed will insist in keeping the truant students as part of the teacher's score and they will have the State's own proposal to back them up. To the DOE this is a mighty weapon to get rid of teachers and they wiull not give it up without a long, hard fight.
The teachers most affected will be those teachers who have "high needs students" which includes the following cohorts:
- High poverty students.
- Academically & behaviorally challenged students .
- Special education & English Language Learners.
- Dysfunctional families and homelessness.
These academically challenged students are disproportionally found in schools in low income, minority communities throughout the City. By contrast, schools located in "Middle Class" communities like Bayside and Riverdale will have few, if any truancy problems and the teacher scores will not be affected. Moreover, the screened and specialized school teachers may end up with artificially higher scores since their schools attendance rates are usually 95% or higher. Furthermore, when the City schools attendance and truancy rates are compared to the more affluent suburbs, you can guess which teachers will score higher on the New York State "Teacher evaluation system".The teachers' union in Buffalo has realized the scope of the problem and has publicly refused to come to an agreement with the City because of it. Why hasn't the UFT done the same?
I call on the union to make the student attendance issue a non-negotiable item. No teacher should be unfairly saddled with truant students. What's next? Should the teacher pick the students up at their home? Feed them? How about wiping their noises and taking them to the doctor? It is bad enough the City and State want to dump all the problems on the teachers but why is the union not standing up for the teachers on the student attendance issue?