Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New York State's Teacher Evaluation System Is A Potential Death Sentence For Teachers Who Work In Urban Schools With High Poverty Students.

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?


Anonymous said...

Dear Chaz,
Given your experiences at the hands of the uft, it never ceases to amaze me that you seem to be shocked at the perfidy of the parasites who pupport to represent our interests.

As long as I have had the misfortune of being a host/dues payer, the overpaid thugs at the uft have incrementally made my job conditions intolerably hostile.

The fear and loathing that is educating in NYC did not happen without the complicity of the union.

They don't have to put up with the reign of terror, because they are the cause of it.

Nothing has been done to us by the little tyrant, without their total vichy collaboration.

The union only cares about the union, not its dues paying members. Since teachers represent about a third of their members, it is logical to realize that we have been sold out.
All of the contracts and side agreements point to it.

Your treatment by both parties in the latex latrine should make it crystal clear.

Your position as a provisional employee is demeaning, lacking any reasonable expection of security.

They will work you like a dog and then toss you to the curb when this semester is up.

They want an experienced teacher for free. This happened to me.

I dread being placed, because then you become a fixed target. This way the admin types can collect their precious data to be used to do you in.

You have all the aggravation and tons of paperwork of the teachers in your building, but none of the "rights".
Last year I had an ap from hell. My life was made miserable by this creature.
Moving is preferable to being a stationary target. As you well know, no good deed goes unpunished.

We have a limited shelf life in what used to be a profession.

We need to take inspiration from the kids at John Dewey. The youth are setting the right example.

We need to find some courage and do the right thing. STRIKE!!

This is the time for those who think that they have power to see what the power of organized labor can do.
We are the cheapest form of day care. We are grossly underpaid. The work conditions are absolutely terrible. The reign of terror and the data fetishists are wholly unacceptable.
The random and insane new methods of rating professionals is nothing but an end run around tenure. This and a host of other causes are reason enough, to down tools and walk off the job.

We should strike before they have their precious regents. They need to see that we will not tolerate anymore slander, demeaning and deproffesionalizing.

What what we have lost through the UFT needs to be restored.

The union needs to be decertified. Or we need an approach similar to Chicago.

No two pensions and bullshit anti-democratic pin striped pigs. We need working rank and file to take over completely.

Until such an event takes place, we will endure a terrible existance as temporary, coolie labor for the little tyrant.


Angry Nog

Ari Steinfeld said...

I to am in the trenches teaching the most difficult of students. I am also effected by the decisions of the leadership of my Union, and I to believe that the leadership has made some strategic errors, but let us be clear strategic errors are not the same as selling us out or lacking concern.

I do support the Buffalo teachers in their demands, but I also know that the circumstances from which they negotiate and economic conditions of that region of New York are different, not to mention the fact that they do not have a Mayor who has more wealth than most nations on earth. The U.F.T. has made a concerted effort to fight the issue of evaluation, and the fact that our U ratings are never reversed at "impartial hearings". A strategic calculation which essentially stopped the negotiations from moving forward.

Does Chaz suggest we fight a battle on two fronts. I do know history, and understand that a war on two fronts is much more difficult to wage. Especially considering the fact that the Union DOES NOT have unlimited resources, and can not guarantee victory in the courts.

Mike Mulgrew fought the T.D.A.'s Mike Mulgrew fought the issue stated above, Mike Mulgrew fought to avert layoffs. Maybe he understands that if you attempt to fight everything at once, you are actually fighting nothing without organization and money, and maybe e understands that every local faces different issues.

Although we face similar issues we all must be very strategic in how and what we are fighting. I trust that only local leaders, and yes our leaders know what to fight and how to do it.

Anonymous said...

I think we are in desperate times, time to STRIKE!!!!! Enough is enough.

Rod said...


"....solidarity, for the most part, is gone now. If American workers are ever going to regain their fair share of national income and win back respect on and off the jobs, it is something they are going to have to re-learn. The Occupy Movement has brought back the idea of solidarity with its image of “the 99 percent fighting the 1 Percent,” but this idea has not yet spread fast enough to stop the war on teachers."

Anonymous said...

I was in the trenches for 16 years at a school where 100% of the students qualified for free lunches. I quit after being unfairly persecuted by the principal and my AP. My Union rep did nothing, the UFT did nothing, none of my fellow teachers gave a damn, and the kids just piled on.
Now the school is being closed, and the principal is being fired.
None of them spoke out about anything, and now it's too late.
Do you think any of them would have the balls to go on strike?
Hell, they've never even heard of Gotham Schools or this blog!