Friday, March 23, 2018


The NYC economy continues to do well. The latest evidence is the city's unemployment rate which now stands at 4.2%.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The state Department of Labor says New York City's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest since the nation's bicentennial, while the statewide jobless rate is at its lowest in more than a decade.
The agency's monthly unemployment figures released Thursday showed the city's jobless rate had fallen from 4.3 percent in January to 4.2 percent in February, an all-time low based on records going back to 1976.
The statewide jobless rate dipped from 4.7 percent in January to 4.6 percent last month, the lowest level since July 2007, six months before the Great Recession began.

The Labor Department says the state's private-sector job count rose by 28,700 last month, bringing total employment to more than 8,151,000, the highest ever in New York.

When the city cries poverty during contract negotiations with city employees, don't believe a word they say.
However, if you (and I mean all of you), are not willing to get involved by doing something as simple as signing and spreading a petition around to get rid of the teacher evaluation system, then please stop complaining.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Thanks all who commented on the original draft. Roseanne added some but MoveOn thought it was too long so the rationale is here at ICE.

Please sign and then share the petition to repeal NYS Teacher Evaluation Law. Spread it to the world.

 Petition to Repeal NYS Teacher Evaluation Laws 3012-c and 3012-d

We must return teacher evaluation to local districts free from state mandates by repealing New York State Education Laws 3012-c and 3012-d.

  • Evaluating teachers based on student results on tests and other student assessments that were never designed to rate educators is neither a scientifically or educationally sound way to be used for a Measure of Student Learning portion of a teacher's rating.
  •  The Measure of Teacher Practice portion of teacher evaluations is subjective and highly unfair, particularly in NYC where the Danielson Framework has been used not to help teachers grow as professionals but as a weapon to frighten teachers into teaching to score points on arbitrary rubrics in multiple unnecessary classroom observations.
Why we are starting this petition?
The teacher evaluation system in NYS is broken beyond repair. NYS passed a flawed evaluation system into law in order to receive federal Race to the Top funds. However, the current version of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act no longer requires states to rate teachers in part based on student test results to receive federal funds.  Rating teachers on student exam scores is not recommended by the American Statistical Association as it is not a reliable way to measure teacher performance yet in New York we only have a moratorium on using standardized tests to rate certain teachers. Teachers are still rated on tests and other assessments that were never designed to rate teachers. The Measures of Student Learning portion of teacher ratings is highly unreliable. Many call it "junk science."

NYS ELA tests cannot measure student progress under any particular standard.From a statistical standpoint, a handful of questions per standard is not a statistically sound measure of a student’s mastery of that standard.  Additionally, test passages that are on, above or even slightly below grade level cannot measure the progress of a struggling reader who enters a class two to four years below grade level. These tests cannot measure the progress of newcomers to our country who are learning English as a new language.  It takes many years for newcomers to master the nuances of the English language.  In effect, students such as these described above can make more than a year’s worth of progress and yet still not show progress on the NYS ELA due to the text complexity of all test passages.
The Measure of Teacher Practice portion of teacher ratings in New York City is based on the Danielson Framework whose creator, Charlotte Danielson, said this about teacher evaluation in Education Week:

"There is ...little consensus on how the profession should define "good teaching." Many state systems require districts to evaluate teachers on the learning gains of their students. These policies have been implemented despite the objections from many in the measurement community regarding the limitations of available tests and the challenge of accurately attributing student learning to individual teachers.

"Even when personnel policies define good teaching as the teaching practices that promote student learning and are validated by independent research, few jurisdictions require their evaluators to actually demonstrate skill in making accurate judgments. But since evaluators must assign a score, teaching is distilled to numbers, ratings, and rankings, conveying a reductive nature to educators' professional worth and undermining their overall confidence in the system.

"I'm deeply troubled by the transformation of teaching from a complex profession requiring nuanced judgment to the performance of certain behaviors that can be ticked off on a checklist. In fact, I (and many others in the academic and policy communities) believe it's time for a major rethinking of how we structure teacher evaluation to ensure that teachers, as professionals, can benefit from numerous opportunities to continually refine their craft."

The Danielson Rubric describes an ideal classroom setting and was never intended to be used as an evaluative tool against teachers. Examples: A rubric that rates a teacher "developing" when he/she "attempts to respond to disrespectful behavior among students, with uneven results" (Danielson 2a) is not a fair rubric. A rubric that rates a teacher ineffective because "students' body language indicates feelings of hurt, discomfort, or insecurity" (Danielson 2a) having nothing to do with how that particular teacher treats her particular students is not a fair rubric for teacher evaluations. Teachers do not just teach emotionally well-adjusted children from idyllic families and communities. We teach all kinds of children who live under various conditions. These conditions have a major impact on the emotional well-being of children.

Children experiencing emotional distress due to factors beyond their teachers' control quite often have trouble concentrating in class yet to be considered "highly effective" under Danielson, Virtually all students are intellectually engaged in the lesson." We teach children with selective mutism and other speech and language and learning disabilities yet Danielson doesn't take this into account. Students' emotions have an impact on their academics, and students' emotions are impacted by many factors beyond any teacher's control such as homelessness, marital stress in their home or divorce, loss of employment of a caregiver, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, bullying outside of their classroom, personal illness or illness of a loved one and many other factors too numerous to list. Holding a teacher accountable for these factors that are beyond a teacher's control is not reasonable and yet that is what some of the components under Danielson demand.

Teachers in NY are frustrated and demoralized by a teacher evaluation system that has robbed us of our professionalism.

We demand an end to this absurdity. We demand that NYS change its education laws so teachers can return to the practice of seeing their students as human beings who are so much more than a test score or a robot that must adhere to absurd requirements under the Danielson Rubric in order for their teacher to be judged "effective" or "highly effective." NYS has created an adversarial relationship between students and their teachers and this absurdity must end now.

Teachers have no confidence in the evaluation system that reduces teacher worth into a meaningless series of numbers and letters. Teachers in NYC fear classroom observations are not being used to help them grow professionally, but instead teachers must teach to try to score points on Ms. Danielson's often misused framework.

In NYC, there is a climate of fear in the classroom which does not lead to improved teacher practice. Four observations per year for veteran teachers is excessive. One per year or every other year is sufficient for the vast majority of veteran teachers. Ms. Danielson stated in Education Week that after three years in the classroom, teachers become part of a "professional community" and should be treated as such.

Danielson says:
Personnel policies for the teachers not practicing below standard—approximately 94 percent of them—would have, at their core, a focus on professional development, replacing the emphasis on ratings with one on learning.

We agree. To get there we must first repeal Education Law 3012-c and 3012-d and return teacher evaluation to local districts, free from state mandates.

Monday, March 19, 2018


This came to me from UFT materials that were taken up to Albany for Lobby Day today.

While statewide umbrella union NYSUT is at least talking a good game about repealing the NYS teacher evaluation law and sending teacher evaluation back to districts free from state mandates, the UFT is telling state lawmakers the teacher evaluation system in NYC could be a "model statewide."

Who is Michael Mulgrew kidding?

We have a petition to repeal the evaluation system we will be posting later. It is time to tell the Legislature, Governor and President Mulgrew how we feel about the teacher evaluation system.

Please don't tell me how the student growth scores saved your annual rating. The NYC DOE is discontinuing probationary teachers with effective ratings and bringing dismissal charges against tenured people who were never rated ineffective.


The Jersey City teachers' strike is over as the union and the school board reached a tentative settlement. Union members will vote in April as will the Board of Education. We don't know the details yet. says this:

The deal came after a 13-hour negotiation session Sunday.

"I think we reached a fair and equitable agreement with the district," Ron Greco, president of the Jersey City Education Association, told The Jersey Journal. The union represents 4,000 teachers and other school workers.
Further down, continues:
Teachers and more than 1,000 other school workers walked off the job Friday to protest high health care costs. Schools remained open for a half-day with substitute teachers. It was the first teachers' strike since 1998.
Teachers say Chapter 78, the 2011 New Jersey law that revamped how school workers pay for their health benefits, has resulted in them taking home less money despite salary increases.
This dispute has been closely watched by the statewide teachers union. A win in Jersey City on what teachers call "Chapter 78 relief" could help teachers in other towns win lower health care costs. 
The details of the deal remain unknown, but Thomas said it includes an agreement on salaries and health care costs.
A judge on Friday afternoon ordered teachers to return to their classrooms on Monday, citing a New Jersey law that bans public union workers from going on strike.
We'll need a few more details to see if this was a win for the teachers.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Sean Ahern sent us this piece from nprED on teacher salaries compared state by state (and DC) but also factoring in the cost of living in the region.

If we go on salary alone, NYS teachers are number one in the country. However, if we put in the cost of living, NYS teacher salaries go from 1st in the nation to 17th. If we just did NYC, I can bet we come even lower down on the list.

Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the states with the highest teacher pay when factoring in the cost of living.

The bottom five are: Hawaii, Maine, South Dakota, Arizona and Utah.

Note that West Virginia and Oklahoma where teachers are rebelling are not in that bottom five if we adjust for cost of living.

Friday, March 16, 2018


I woke up this morning to see that teacher strike fever has spread to Jersey City where teachers went to picket lines instead of classrooms today. They have been working without a contract since September and they have had enough.

Jersey City's 3,100 public-school teachers appear ready to walk off the job Friday morning after no deal was reached Thursday night to end an eight-month contract dispute.
The nine-member school board adjourned its meeting at 12:30 a.m. on Friday without coming to an agreement with the Jersey City Education Association on a new contract.
Ron Greco, the union president, said Wednesday that if a contract was not approved tonight then "game over."
Teachers received notice at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday saying to prepare to strike Friday morning, sources told The Jersey Journal. About an hour later, school officials sent an automated call to parents saying there will be a half-day on Friday because teachers will strike.

Teachers have worked under an expired contract since Sept. 1 and are demanding lower health care costs.
From the Jersey City Public Schools Website:

Dear JCPS Families,
We know that you may have been bombarded with rumors of a strike by the members of the JCEA, and you are understandably concerned. We are continuing to negotiate with the JCEA leadership, and it is our hope that we will be able to reach an agreement shortly, without any disruption to your child’s education. We are taking Mr. Greco at his word that he does not want to strike.
Obviously, should there be a job action, we will need to make provisions to ensure the safety of your children. That will be our paramount concern. To that end, while schools will be open, it will be necessary to have an 8:30 to 12:45 schedule for all students. We will not have Morning Stars, CASPER or other before or after school activities. We will still provide breakfast and lunch.
Despite what may you may hear, the Board does value our teachers and we appreciate the work they do each and every day. JCPS is fortunate to have thousands of dedicated staff in every position throughout the entire city.  I also want you to know that our negotiating team has been working tirelessly to find ways to address teacher concerns while ensuring that we can maintain the quality of our programs. I know the Board is committed to responsibly acting in the best interests of the 4,000 employees, the taxpayers of Jersey City, and most importantly, the children of our schools.

Dr. Marcia V. Lyles

Jersey City Public Schools

I believe that is the same Marcia Lyles who used to be one of Joel Klein's deputies here in NYC.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


From CNN:

Thousands of students across the United States walked out of class Wednesday to demand stricter gun laws in a historic show of political solidarity that was part tribute and part protest.

From Maine to California, the 17-minute walkout -- one minute for each of the 17 people killed at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one month ago -- began around 10 a.m. in each time zone.

Great to see the students at Middle College High School participate in the protests-show of solidarity .

The kids are definitely alright.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


I worked with Arthur Goldstein on a resolution to lower class size. I believe Norm Scott and Mike Schirtzer were also involved. When our resolution was presented to the UFT Executive Board by Arthur last evening, Unity gutted it to make it into just another call for more money from Albany. Unity would allow administration at the Department of Education to have a free hand in spending it on what they  want and not what schools need.

The State Legislature in 2007 passed into law lower limits for the average class sizes in NYC as part of what is called Contracts for Excellence to settle the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit. However, since that time class sizes have gone up while Unity/UFT has stood idly by.

MORE/NEW ACTION representatives opposed to Michael Mulgrew's majority Unity Caucus did not push last night to make lower class size a major contract demand because the UFT will argue that this will take away from money for salary increases. Fair enough, so why not use the C4E law to force the DOE to use state money earmarked for this purpose to actually lower class sizes to levels the city agreed to back in 2007? It's the law.

Here is the original major resolved clause as we wrote it:

Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to C4E limits of 20 students in a class in k-3, 23 in a class grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal.

The Unity/UFT response to our resolution was to amend it by striking this resolved clause that would force the DOE to lower class sizes and replacing it with:

Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.

We need more than just more money from the state. Too many principals are spending the Contracts for Excellence money on their own slush funds for their pet programs while NYC class sizes remain the highest in the state. Arthur asked that this be changed without it impacting contract negotiations but the Unity people said no. Instead, they just want more money from the state that can be spent on more administrators or more school closings.

You wonder why many UFT members can't stand the UFT.

The entire motivation from Arthur and the Unity response from Arthur's report are below.

Class sizes

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—Since our last class size resolution, we’ve given a lot of thought to the idea that all contractual negotiation was the province of the 300 member committee. We acknowledge and understand that position, which is why this resolution makes no mention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and proposes nothing related to it.

Instead, we’re focusing on an existing mandate. This gives us a golden opportunity to support our students and members without touching upon confidential negotiations. It’s been a long time since we’ve taken concrete steps to help the class size situation. In actual fact, it’s been over half a century.
Here’s a way for us to address not only class size, but also the problematic nature of enforcement. Instead of giving teachers a day off from tutoring, let’s offer those who violate the law consequences worthy of lawbreakers. Let’s make recalcitrant principals and DOE lawyers subject to actual law and its consequences. Let’s decisively end the practice of making teachers and students pay when administrators and lawyers who claim to place, “Children First, Always” practice contempt for the law. We can do that right here and right now.

Let’s take this opportunity to show communities and members that we will zealously press for the enforcement of regulations designed to help and support them. Let’s show our colleagues, at this crucial juncture, that union is there to support them. Let’s show city parents that we, the people who wake up every day to work with their children, are the people who really put children first.
And let’s tell politicians who cavalierly ignore the law that we won’t allow them to do it anymore.

Stuart Kaplan—amendment—Strike second to last “Whereas” and first Resolved. Adds Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.

Gregg Lundahl—Asks to strike second to last Whereas (same one) Says there is a difference between C4E and CFE, C4E doesn’t have specific numbers, but there is a great deal of money withheld since 2015. Don’t wish to pay for it in contract negotiations. These are specific numbers. Much more comfortable with our substitute resolution. If we fight to do this for the contract money will have to come from somewhere. Let’s get money from state.

Kiera—Point person for class sizes. Speaks in support of the amendment. Looks at it from negotiation standpoint. Doesn’t want to make class size negotiation public policy.

First strike next to last whereas—Vote.

Passes on party lines.

First resolved—dropped

Passes on party lines.

Additional resolved.

Passes on party lines.

Resolution as amended passes on party lines.

We are adjourned.

RESOLUTION TO REDUCE CLASS SIZES TO C4E LAW LEVELS (actual class size language now stricken)
Whereas, reducing class size has proven to be one of the best ways to improve student learning, lower teacher attrition rates and disciplinary problems, and narrow achievement and opportunity gaps between racial and economic groups; and

Whereas, NYC schools continue to have the largest average class sizes in the state, and NY’s highest court said that our class sizes were too large in our schools to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education; and

Whereas, UFT contractual class size limits continue to be ignored by the DOE; and

Whereas, the DOE uses outlandish “action plans” to address these limits; and

Whereas, the NYC DOE recently reported class sizes have continued to increase this year; and

Whereas, Article 8L in the 2005 Contract called in part for a labor-management committee to discuss lowering class size if Campaign for Fiscal Equity Settlement funding was available; and

Whereas, the 2007 Contracts for Excellence (C4E) law, which settled the CFE case, required NYC to reduce class size in all grades; and

Whereas, the goals for class size in the city’s original C4E plan, approved by the state in the fall of 2007, are for an average of no more than 20 students per class in K-3, 23 in grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes; and

Whereas, the Department of Education has flouted this law flagrantly since 2007; and
Whereas, the DOE gets C4E funding that is often not used to reduce class size; be it therefore

Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to the C4E limits of 20 students in a class K-3, 23 in Grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal; and be it further

Resolved, that funding for this class size reduction should not in any way affect monies for contractual raises for UFT members as the DOE is already receiving C4E money to reduce class sizes from the state. 

Added: Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.