Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Treacherous Road To The Teacher Evaluation Process, The Contract Negotiations, And A Resolution To The ATR Crises.

As we all know that contract negotiations between the Blommberg Administration and the UFT is at a standstill.  Our last contract expired in October of 2009, three years ago.and it is very apparent that as long as the Mayor is in office there will not be any meaningful contract negotiations between the two parties.  Yes, the union has declared an impasse and a PERB mediator is trying to find "common ground" for the two parties to agree as a starting point in the complex and complicated path to a negotiated settlement.  However, in reality, it is in the best interest of both parties to simply wait to 2014 before a new contract is negotiated.

In the Bloomberg Administration's case no contract means it is not subject to the "City pattern" headache which would mean giving teachers and other UFT represented staff up to 8% raises for the first two years that PERB Arbitration would probably result in.  With no contract, the Mayor can leave office showing that he held the line against teachers by giving "no retroactive raises".Of course he has simply "kicked the can down the road" and leaves the tricky and politically treacherous contract negotiations to the next Mayor but that is the next Mayor's problem not his.

For the union, no contract means that the existing contract rules stray in effect, thanks to the Tribourough Amendment, and any demands for "givebacks" must wait for a new contract and the union rather not negotiate a contract under the existing hostile political and economic climate where demands for massive givebacks would be demanded and the mass media would be whipped into a frenzy to ensure these massive givebacks become a reality.

Consequently, it appears in the best interest of both parties to wait until the Bloomberg Administration leaves office and the City's economy improves before any serious contract negotiations actually occurs.

That brings me to the teacher evaluation process.  What many people fail to understand is that no teacher evaluation program can be implemented without a contract!  Yes, the teacher evaluation program requires a change in the contract which means that the union can and should require that any teacher evaluation program be part of the next contract and not change the existing contract. That would be a betrayal to its members if the union changed the existing contract to accommodate the City and approve the  teacher evaluation program. While it is true that the Bloomberg Administration broke off the teacher evaluation negotiations because of the appeals process (where a measly 13% of the teachers can challenge their "ineffective rating").   A more serious problem for the Mayor was that any agreed upon teacher evaluation program required a change in the teacher contract and would must certainly forced the Bloomberg Administration to negotiate a new contract with the union, something the Mayor does not want to do.  Unless the union was foolish or incompetent, the union should never negotiate a new contract without the retroactive raises and resist any "givebacks" if the City wanted to implement the teacher evaluation program and the Mayor knows it. 

Finally, there is the ATR crises, the Bloomberg Administration has made it clear that they want to fire the ATRs who are mostly highly-paid senior teachers.  The Bloomberg Administration over the last few years have  proposed an ATR time limit, an end LIFO bill, a useless weekly assignment,and now possibly a buyout.  The union, to their credit, has held firm on the ATR time limit issue since they saw what happened in Chicago when an ATR time limit was implemented and resulted in many senior teachers being fired as the schools refused to fill their vacancies with the ATRs.  While, I truly believe the union will continue to hold firm on the ATR issue, it will probably be  the primary demand of the next Administration and our union must be pro-active on this issue and demand that the new Administration require the DOE to go back to the old rules that require principals to hire excessed teachers in their district before they can hire a teacher outside the DOE,  nothing less is acceptable.

In summary, the complex and complicated nature of the next contract can be simplified as a combination of politics, egos, and most of all, the final agreed-upon teacher evaluation program.  Furthermore,  and hopefully a resolution of the ATR crises to the satisfaction of the affected members.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Chaz. Your post on this issue is much appreciated. To use an oxymoron - I was somewhat certain that that a new teacher evaluation must mean a new contract but was hesitant to spread that word to anyone who might want an answer from me. Thanks for clearing it up.

Anonymous said...

Do you trust the UFT not to implement the same evaluation agreement they made with Cuomo??

And do you really think any in the UFT will take your words seriously?

Quinn is already taking money for Michelle Rhee. The question is, what will she do?

There is only one place in the US that doesn't use test scores for evaluations, and they had to turn down RTTT funds to continue it. It is based on Peer Review with Peer Assistance. The assistance is giving for 2 whole years. If the teachers improves they keep their jobs. If not, they are fired. Due process is still in place. Of course this is just a summary of how this process works. Michael Winerip wrote an article on this district, and the assistance given to struggling teachers is quite extensive.

NYC schools should not be keeping bad and ineffective teachers like the ones portrayed in the Won't Back Down movie. But test scores can also save an ineffective teacher as well especially if all that teacher did was test prep the whole year. If schools have good teachers, politicians won't be able to to bring up LIFO as an excuse to get rid of it because this eval process is fairer since teachers are also involved. Student progress has improved under this system without relying on test prep since testing is not a punitive measure.

If we are going to call for evaluation reform, that let's work to build on one that isn't punitive. That works with the teachers not against them. If the testing evals continue, you will see more teachers leaving the system.

ed notes online said...

MORE will be circulating a petition calling for a referendum (otherwise known as a contract membership vote as should have taken place with other agreements like the ATR modification) on any ed eval agreement precisely because it is a contract change. Just watch the union leadership dance around that one.

Anonymous said...

Ed, when and where exactly will that petition be circulated?

veteran teacher said...

I agree. The union will be firm on the ATR situation and most likely, the ATR situation will go on for the next 2 to 3 years. But, as Chaz pointed out and common sense dictates, if you let the DOE fire or put time limits on ATRs, then you may as well give back everything else because that's the end of the UFT. There is a lot of speculation and assuming in the DOE, so I believe nothing until I see it, but there is no way the UFT gives in on the ATRs. It is sad that as I went week to week last year that most of the rank and file teachers were clueless as to what ATR was

Rod said...

So we continued to be screwed. Principals will never in my opinion hire veteran teachers....ATR reputations can not be resuscitated any more than we can teach an old dog new tricks. You are saying we will have to wait until 10/2014 for a possible new contract? I can't even begin to think what the increases over five years would amount to, specially if NYC's economy does not improve. You also failed to mention pension reform which all politicians will be dealing with. In other words, all UFT members are dead in the water. As usual these same pols refuse to address where the problem the home. With tenure being eliminated in some areas of the nation and the overall vilification of teachers in the media, I don't see anything encouraging on the horizon....well except for Chicago and in academic circles where it's all talk.

Anonymous said...

Commenters have called out as bogus the city's claim that there are only a little more than 800 ATRs.

Comments on Gotham Schools' "City lifts some restrictions on schools still in need of teachers"
by Rachel Cromidas, at 12:50 pm

NY_I said...

The CTU is striking over these issues.

BREAKING: STRIKE IS ON!: Live Blogging the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Strike