Sunday, January 16, 2011

Up Close and Personal With An Opposition

When I was first asked by my colleague to attend an "Educators for Excellence" (they use a number 4 for their middle name which rubs this educator the wrong way) happy hour at a Prospect Heights bar I was very apprehensive. The RSVP required that I ascribe to their "core principals" which include much of the "ed deformers'" agenda; teacher layoffs by ability not seniority, "earned tenure" which require certain student test milestones, and teacher evaluation systems based on student data which are also tied to merit-pay schemes.

When my colleague heard my concerns she invited me without the "Unity-style" pledge and asked me to keep my mind open. I admit that faced with this agenda it was difficult but I went anyway. I figured it would be, at least, a fun time with my colleagues and free drink and appetizers.

"Educators for Excellence," it appears, is run by a couple of new teachers who now teach 1 day per week at P.S. 86 in the Bronx. There are some interesting blog entries about them and their organization and if you are really interested you can go here and here.

When I arrived at the bar I was greeted by a representative of Educators for Excellence and immediately asked to sign the pledge. When I responded that I would never sign the pledge (I guess I couldn't keep my mind open) we immediately engaged in a civil discussion about teacher evaluation, seniority and merit pay.

"We're not anti-union, we just want teachers to be part of the dialogue," argued the rep.

How can you argue with that?

I'm not a big fan of Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt's Freakonomics and its tidal wave reception but I do admit to using parts of it in my classes. In the recent movie based on their books, Levitt states after discussing how real estate brokers have much different interests than home sellers, ""If you can figure out what people's incentives are then you have a good idea on how they will behave."

Attending happy hour sponsored by this group reminded me to dig a little deeper into this group. When the Gotham Schools article was posted Stone and Morris were reported to be full-time teachers in the Bronx and the organization was not funded.

Well, things have changed as they are now funded by the Gates Foundation and certain anonymous donors and have 3 full time employees.

What is their incentive? Are they just protecting "good" teachers?

As I was leaving the rep and I engaged, once again, only this time over the ATR issue. Needless to say he argued that we shouldn't be paying teachers who can't get appointed and had little understanding of how teachers became excessed.

We parted and he invited me to meeting with Michael Mulgrew on January 25th. Could be interesting.

The evening was not a waste of time (or a timeshare style sales pitch) but gave me the opportunity to explain to several of my colleagues just what was wrong with this organization and its agenda.

And besides, when was the last time I debated the issues of merit pay, seniority and tenure with professional deformers?


Bronx Teacher said...

Just out of curiosity, were you required to show ID?

NYC Educator said...

Wow. Gates funds an organization of teachers that advocates firing teachers. That's on heck of a thank you for all that genuflecting they did at the AFT convention in Seattle.

Chaz said...

Michael Mulgrew is meeting them? Hmmmmm, sounds fishy to me.

Are you going to this meeting? Or will you be dis invited by one side or the other?

ed notes online said...

Great work Jeff.
You have to sign the pledge to even be on their mailing list. Gates is funding teacher groups to undermine their own unions. But with Randi as his partner it is no surprise Mulgrew is meeting with them. Maybe he'll even sign the pledge.

ed notes online said...

From the Gotham School Article on Evan and Sydney:

April 11th, 2010 9:46 am

I predict that this group will soon get funding from the Gates, Walton and Broad Foundations."

Anonymous said...

Those E4E are nothing else but turncoats! Traitors, traitors!

Why does Evans and the others think that they will never reach seniority? Or do they believe in Logan's Run - done at 30!

James Eterno said...

How are they not anti union? A union is supposed to work collectively to bargain for better working conditions for its members and to stand in solidarity. The principles of these groups are more like divide and conquer.

Bronx Teacher said...

Did someone mention Logan's Run?

Anyway, Jamie is correct. They are unionists in sheeps clothing. Unfortunately, the rank and file are ignorant and have their heads in the sand.

Anonymous said...

Aren't they also funded by TFA??
And the Mulgrew meeting? The writing is on the wall. I wonder if there will be any blank checks around.

Jeff, now that you spilled the beans, I bet you will get a "dis-invite".

Randi got a nice chuck of change when she left the UFT @ $200,000 for unused sick and vaca days bringing her grand total to $600,000. Nice to know she earned that salary protecting us from the wolves.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bronx Teacher,

Your version of Logan's Run is spot-on!

At my age and yeeeeaaars in the system, my crystal should be as black as coal if not blacker!

Thanks for the spoof.