Saturday, January 12, 2013

STATE OF EVALUATION NEGOTIATIONS

There are so many rumors going around the schools about the new teacher evaluation system and a possible contract so it is time to try to address some of what is being discussed.  Let's first say what we know.

There is a January 17th deadline imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo for union locals in the state and the Boards of Education to reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system or lose an increase in state aid.  New York City's share of the increase is said to be around $250 million. Most other districts have reached agreements and the research I have done shows that most have contracts also.  Teachers have not had a contract in New York City since 2009.  The law ties together evaluation systems to new contracts but does not mandate a new contract to get an evaluation agreement.

It is no secret that the UFT and the DOE have reopened negotiations and are attempting to hammer out an evaluation agreement before the Governor's arbitrary January 17 deadline. On the other hand, there is no evidence that there is anything new on the contract and the chances of it being settled with the evaluation system are not good.

That is what we know so now let's investigate what likely is going on behind the scenes.

It is pretty clear the UFT is prepared to accept huge concessions to reach an evaluation agreement.  We attended a High School Committee meeting on Wednesday and were told to expect major changes in how we are evaluated because our new system must conform to state law which bases 40% of each teacher's evaluation on student learning and 60% on traditional factors such as observations.

What the 40-60 split means varies depending on who I talk to. A teacher must get 65% out of 100% to get a passing annual rating but if someone does not get at least 5% in the student growth portion, then it is impossible to get a 65%. Some tell me not to worry about this but others say it will be used to attack teachers.

I gather that it would also be impossible to get a 65% if a teacher receives a full 40% on the student growth portion but the teacher only gets 24% in the other part.  As for using the Danielson framework for observations, it is something I am not totally familiar with.  Let me just say the teachers I know who have been rated under Danielson do not like it at all and believe it will be used to play "gotcha" against unpopular teachers.

At the High School Committee meeting this past Wednesday, there was a lengthy discussion with many Chapter Leaders expressing deep concerns over the potential new system.  I was pleased with the way new Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds conducted an open discussion and just let people express themselves.  Many Chapter Leaders were very worried about how the new system could be easily abused by incompetent and/or malevolent administrators.

It was up to the desperate UFT District Representatives to defend what will more than likely be an indefensible new process. The Unity (leadership caucus of the UFT) spin on whatever is negotiated is basically going to be that this is the best we could come up with because of the law; being evaluated 40% on student test scores is not as bad as other states; the Danielson framework for observations will allow teachers to grow and the current satisfactory or unsatisfactory system is flawed as the principal can rate anyone unsatisfactory and there isn't much teachers can do but under the new system there will be multiple measures to rate teachers so if a principal doesn't like someone, that teacher can use student data to improve his/her rating.

There was also a debate about the difference between a growth model and a value added model which went way over my head so I will defer to NYC Educator on this one. Both growth and value added seem like inaccurate junk science to me so basing 1% of a rating (forget 20-40%) that will impact someone's livelihood on junk is 1% too much.

Although this was not stated at the meeting and I have no first or secondhand knowledge of the negotiations, I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that what the DOE and UFT are probably negotiating are details such as how many times teachers will be observed, whether or not teachers can have a pre-or post observation conference with the observations, what will be the pre-tests that determine the baseline for the student growth portion of teacher ratings, what can teachers do do if they are not happy with observations and will the system be used this year to rate pedagogues highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective instead of satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Basically, the Unity officials are right as we are constrained within the framework of the law.  We already gave up most of the store when we supported the change in the law back in 2010 that allows the burden of proof to switch from the Board of Education to teachers in the new system in hearings when tenured people face dismissal for incompetence.  In the new system, anyone with two consecutive ratings of ineffective will be presumed to be incompetent.  Teachers will have to prove they are competent which will be next to impossible.

The UFT says we need not worry since they hammered out an appeals process last year and put it into state law. 13% of NYC teachers rated ineffective will be chosen by the UFT to be able to appeal their rating before an independent three person panel and the other 87% will get a review by an independent validator. Most people I talk to are not at all convinced that the validation process will be fair since the current Peer Intervention Plus program is supposed to give teachers rated unsatisfactory the help of an independent reviewer but instead sources such as Chaz tell us around 90% of teachers receive negative ratings from the "independent" reviewers.  Subsequently, they have no defense in termination hearings so they are fired or have to resign. This is the future under the new system.  Tenure in many cases will basically be a two year delay process instead of a guarantee to a fair hearing before dismissal.  (This blog wrote about this when the deal was struck on the appeal process in 2012 .)

There are only four variables that will save many teachers.  First, there will be an enormous amount of paperwork involved in rating teachers ineffective which many administrators won't want to do and then they will have to set up Teacher Improvement Plans which will be another headache. Read the NYSUT literature on the new system to see how complex everything is. Expect the DOE to make loads of procedural mistakes. Second, some principals truly want to work with teachers and will not buy into the new nonsense. Third, if administrators go forward to hang as many teachers as they can, they will find that there aren't enough arbitrators around to finish off so many people so inevitably there will be huge backlogs that will save some people. Fourth, arbitrators cannot terminate everyone as that would appear to make them biased so a few teachers will be able to prove they are not so bad and will keep their jobs.

What the UFT should be doing now is educating the membership in every school about the pros as well as the pitfalls of the new system and calling for a membership referendum on anything they agree to. They rejected this idea at the last Delegate Assembly even though it is an enormous change in the contract. There is a petition demanding such a vote from the MORE caucus that is linked here

If they can't reach an agreement, then they should work with enlightened administrators and districts across the state to demand that the State fix the evaluation law or face a massive educator rebellion. It was only a few years ago that New York State passed a law saying teachers could not be evaluated based on student test scores.  That, however, was before President Obama's Race to the Top disaster caused the state to change course to go for federal money and for some inexplicable reason, the UFT and NYSUT in 2010 supported the law linking much of teacher ratings to student test scores.

On the current negotiations, we don't know if the city or union are inserting poison pills to make sure  they fail. The UFT is willing to concede on almost everything but Bloomberg's people may make it so humiliating that President Mulgrew would not even get a fig-leaf out of this.  On the other hand, the Union could demand real safeguards (a right to grieve any unfair evaluations) so the DOE would reject any agreement. If I were negotiating, I would do this but I don't expect our leadership to be so bold.

I'm not sure I buy the argument that all of this is settled and this is all a kabuki dance. If there was already the framework of a deal in place, then why would the UFT have changed the date of the January Delegate Assembly twice? If they are smoking cigars in a backroom and laughing at teachers who work in the schools, then they would have just signed the evaluation agreement by now.  Look at Mulgrew's letter to us that is copied in its entirety below. You can read the tea leaves yourself. My take is the UFT is willing to give in but the DOE is looking at this deal to be the final nail in our coffin.

Finally, by de-coupling the contract from the evaluation negotiations, something the union appears to be doing, the UFT is throwing enormous leverage away.  In Yonkers an evaluation system agreement was held up because there was no contract.  Guess what, the Yonkers Federation of Teachers just received a new contract along with submitting their evaluation proposal to the state.  Their financial situation is not so grand up there.

In NYC, other city employees received two 4% increases without givebacks years ago.  NYC teachers have been without a contract since 2009. I have to believe the skeptics are 100% correct here and Mulgrew is conceding that the contract has nothing to do with the evaluation agreement because he knows if evaluations are part of a contract, it would be voted on by the membership and a horrible evaluation agreement (the only kind the city would probably ever agree to) might go down in flames even if there is some money thrown in.



Dear colleagues,
Next Thursday is Governor Cuomo’s deadline for New York City and other school districts around the state to submit their plans for a new teacher evaluation system. The governor has said that districts that do not submit plans by Thursday, Jan. 17, will forfeit state school aid. In New York City’s case, we stand to lose upward of $250 million.
The UFT’s position remains unchanged: The current evaluation system is inadequate. Teachers need a new evaluation system — one in which the Department of Education is responsible for supporting the schools, and administrators in the schools are responsible for supporting the work that we do in the classroom.
In the aftermath of the fight you have seen play out in the press, the DOE has come back to the negotiating table. We expect meetings to take place throughout the weekend and into next week, but the outcome of these negotiations is still very uncertain. I am writing to you today so that you and your colleagues can begin preparing for one of two possible scenarios.
If an agreement is reached, we will need to do a lot of work very quickly to stop the spread of myths and misinformation. Communication and collaboration between colleagues will be key. Every school will also need to have a clear understanding about how to proceed.
If no agreement can be reached, it will be because the mayor cannot be brought to accept our position of what a teacher evaluation system needs to be, and he will once again try to blame teachers. If that happens, our work will then center on getting out into our communities to make sure that parents and others know that we, as always, are fighting to make the school system better for the kids we serve.
With all the uncertainty over the negotiations, a lot could happen in the coming days. Earlier today I sent a message to UFT delegates that we have changed the date of our next Delegate Assembly to Thursday, Jan. 17, to align with the governor’s deadline.
If a tentative agreement is reached, it will be up to the DA, the highest decision-making body of the UFT, to decide if we will accept it as a union. If no agreement is reached with the city, the DA will serve as a planning and operational meeting to push back against the mayor as we have so many times before.
We have fought very hard for three years in Albany so that New York City teachers can have an evaluation system that respects and supports the work that we do. An agreement would mean a complete paradigm shift for the country’s largest school system, where every administrator will need to understand that their job is, first and foremost, to help and support teachers.
A great deal of work is being done to make sure our vision is realized, but it will not be easy. We will not come to any agreement unless that vision can become a reality for every school.
We will keep you updated. In the meantime, we will be leafleting outside schools and at major transportation hubs throughout the city on Monday to engage parents and the community and put pressure on the mayor to get to a fair deal. Please talk to your chapter leader to see how you can help.
Sincerely,Michael  Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew



28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very informative and I could not agree more with your point regarding Mulgrew and his reluctance to connect the evaluation with a contract. The Tea Leaves spell doom for classroom teachers.

Anonymous said...

If a tentative agreement is reached, it will be up to the DA, the highest decision-making body of the UFT, to decide if we will accept it as a union.

Why the rush to accept this on the same day????? Who will have time to study it? Or maybe that's the plan. Rush it through without real understanding. The UNITY's line is always, "It could have been worse."

And what happened to the 20%?

ed notes online said...

"Basically, the Unity officials are right as we are constrained within the framework of the law."
A law they helped write. They are like the guy who kills his parents and plead mercy on the grounds he is an orphan.

ed notes online said...

My goodness James, after all these years you don't get how they're playing you?
"I'm not sure I buy the argument that all of this is settled and this is all a kabuki dance. If there was already the framework of a deal in place, then why would the UFT have changed the date of the January Delegate Assembly twice?"
Why? So they can rush in on Jan 17 and say if we don't vote this up write now the deadline will pass and it will all be off.
They originally had the date set for Jan. 16 but that is a PEP closing school meeting. So they moved it back a week. Imagine if before xmas they announced the DA as Jan 17, a Thursday when there is never a DA? That would have given away the game too early.
This script was written months ago and the election delay is tied into it. They know that by May the anger will fade somewhat while they sell the deal -- and electioneer before the official election.

Anonymous said...

I disagree Chazz. I think the anger of teachers by May will be massive. If the new evaluation goes through, it will be implemented right away and teachers will start getting "U" ratings on their observations and high school teachers will know that they will be evaluated on their regents scores. All of this anger will be directed at one person and one person only: Mulgrew. Teachers will not be able to blame Bloomberg on this. Mulgrew laid the foundation for this evaluation in Albany and he is going to sign off on it in NYC. I think Mulgrew is not aware of the massive anger that will be directed at him if this goes through. I circulated the MORE petition at my school a few weeks back and explained to my fellow teachers about what is going on with this nonsense of an evaluation plan. They were extremely angry that they are not being allowed to have any say in this process and they simply can't believe what their own union is doing to them with this sell out. I can 100% guarantee you that every teacher in my school will be voting MORE in the next election as these teachers always come to me rather my chapter leader for advice/info on the UFT. (My chapter leader is a nice fellow but he is totally clueless about every aspect of his responsibilities)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, it may be too late to react.
Teachers chose to keep their heads in the sand.
Teachers should possess critical thinking skills and have proven over and over that they do not. No wonder our students lack them.

Please remind those teachers who like to say "I'm not political," that silence is also a political act.

Sometimes in order to open their eyes and change they have to hit rock bottom. A bunch of U-ratings or I- ratings or D-ratings just may do it.

ed notes online said...

Never underestimate the ability of the UFT leadership to control the members. We lived through the 1975 massive layoffs and the 2005 contract. The vote totals in 2004, 07 and 10 were abysmal even though I read many comments like yours. People won't vote MORE unless you run an active daily ground game in your school to get them to vote. And also that you hand out MORE election literature when it is available.
Look at the MORE blog for bulletins, print some out and share or better yet get all the emails of the people in your school and copy and paste and send bulletins out.
We must build a school by school chain to reach as many people as possible.
Your Ch leader will be influenced by the dist rep and Unity lit will appear in mail boxes. Nothing will change in the union until there is an organized political machine that can counter Unity on a daily basis not just in an election year.

Anonymous said...

Thanks you for taking the time to keep teachers informed. I was hoping that there would be an update here. Many of us appreciate the work done on this blog.

Anonymous said...

If it is a done deal, why doesn't someone leak it out? Don't you know people negotiating this? Are they that true to their confidentiality agreement that they can't leak a little here?

Anonymous said...

They couldn't care less about the PEP. Ed Notes you need to understand the anger out there. People get it this time like never before. Mulgrew is no Shanker. He hasn't won us anything in four years. They won't easily spin their way out of this. Bloomberg will have to delay this until September or Mulgrew is finished with teacher and will need retirees to survive. Those new observations are terrible. I have seen them. Nobody likes it.

NYCDOEnuts said...

I'm not sure anyone would seek to shoot their union in the foot with a leak. They are also, after all, union brothers and sisters. Just a quick thought.

ed notes online said...

I have to see something like 2005 where schools were up in arms and teachers who had never been active before were calling us and looking to do something. How soon that faded. So while I think there is some action out there I'd like to see some evidence this Thursday like I did at the contract DA in October 05 where they had to rent extra space at the Marriott to contain everyone. We held a rally in front that day in the rain I think and a few hundred people were there.
As for the PEP due to the closing schools story if the UFT weren't there at least from some of the leaders it would be too difficult to explain to the closing schools so I believe they will have to make a nominal show.
But even of that day were clear I still believe they would have held the DA on Thurs the 17th to be able to use the "late" agreement to force a quick vote and argue that even if they could go to the membership there was not enough time. The play's the thing, man.

Daniyal Memon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Eterno said...

Norm-There are no closing schools being voted on at Wednesday's PEP that I know of. They haven't even had the Joint Public Hearings yet. As for your comment about me being naive, I want to hold out hope until there is an official publicly released signed document that UFT leaders will wake up and do what is right by their members and fight, even though I agree with all of you that we are most likely about to get royally screwed over.

Anonymous said...

For as long as this new evaluation has been in the air, I have always feared the paranoia and stress that will come along with its implementation. Some may say why worry if one is an effective teacher - it is that which makes me worry. I know I am an effective teacher but I do not know if I am an effective teacher under this new proposed eval. I've judged my work over the past 15 years under the current framework and the critique of my many past Principals and APs. Now it may very well be a totally different ballgame with many uncontrollabe factors working against me. I honestly do fear someone being wrongfully hurt by all this and reacting in a way that may cause harm to themselves or others. In a system of over 75,000 teachers, this scenerio may not want to be thought about but exists none the less. James, I am with you and hoping for the best while expecting the worst.

Anonymous said...

Seriously speaking, effective is in the eye of the beholder. Watch out.

Unitymustgo! said...

What if we all unite around this issue? By all I refer to MORE, ICE, Bloggers, fed up rank and file and even their friends and family. Lets inundate the UFT with phone calls demanding full disclosure and a right to vote. Lets gather any and every UFT phone numbers and e-mails we can gather and publish them collectively on every blog and website willing to participate with a plea to call and e-mail the UFT non-stop. Lets start Monday morning and not stop until they are forced to respond. Our collective message should ask for full disclosure on any evaluation system, a right for a vote of rank and file, and a statement that we don’t want the DA voting on this for us. This is precisely what the UFT does to politicians in Albany. Lets give them a taste of their own medicine. Maybe, just maybe there is time to stop the sell out.

Unitymustgo! said...

What if we all unite around this issue? By all I refer to MORE, ICE, Bloggers, fed up rank and file and even their friends and family. Lets inundate the UFT with phone calls demanding full disclosure and a right to vote. Lets gather any and every UFT phone numbers and e-mails we can gather and publish them collectively on every blog and website willing to participate with a plea to call and e-mail the UFT non-stop. Lets start Monday morning and not stop until they are forced to respond. Our collective message should ask for full disclosure on any evaluation system, a right for a vote of rank and file, and a statement that we don’t want the DA voting on this for us. This is precisely what the UFT does to politicians in Albany. Lets give them a taste of their own medicine. Maybe, just maybe there is time to stop the sell out.

Unitymustgo! said...

What if we all unite around this issue? By all I refer to MORE, ICE, Bloggers, fed up rank and file and even their friends and family. Lets inundate the UFT with phone calls demanding full disclosure and a right to vote. Lets gather any and every UFT phone numbers and e-mails we can gather and publish them collectively on every blog and website willing to participate with a plea to call and e-mail the UFT non-stop. Lets start Monday morning and not stop until they are forced to respond. Our collective message should ask for full disclosure on any evaluation system, a right for a vote of rank and file, and a statement that we don’t want the DA voting on this for us. This is precisely what the UFT does to politicians in Albany. Lets give them a taste of their own medicine. Maybe, just maybe there is time to stop the sell out.

Anonymous said...

Good idea Mr. Go.

Unitymustgo! said...

I am willing to share the personal cell# and office number of my District rep, but I will only do it anonymously. If MORE or anyone jumps on my idea I will happily e-mail it to you and you can release it. Sorry, but I fear for my job.

Bronx-718-379-6200

Brooklyn-718-852-4900

Manhattan-212-598-6800

Queens-718-275-4400

Staten Island-718-605-1400

E-mails:
UFT Officers
Michael Mulgrew, President, mmulgrew@uft.org
Michael Mendel, Secretary, mmendel@uft.org
Mel Aaronson, Treasurer, maaronson@uft.org
Robert Astrowsky, Assistant Secretary, bastrowsky@uft.org
Mona Romain, Assistant Treasurer, mromain@uft.org
UFT Vice Presidents
Carmen Alvarez, calvarez@uft.org
Karen Alford, kalford@uft.org
Catalina Fortino, cfortino@uft.org
Janella Hinds, jhinds@uft.org
Richard Farkas, rfarkas@uft.org
Sterling Roberson, sroberson@uft.org
UFT Press Office
All inquiries from press organizations should be directed to Richard Riley.
phone: 212-598-9220

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Post it here, anonymously, of course.

mike said...

Unitymustgo MORE already has many of the popular bloggers on board, hopefully you have noticed our increase in posting at morecaucusnyc.org lately, but more help is always welcome and needed. Contact us at media@morecaucudnyc.org to help out and coordinate with us on Thursdays actions

mike said...

Media@morecaucusnyc.org
Excuse typo

Sean Ahern said...

Always appreciate your thoughtful, well informed and calm assessment! The Delegate from Dewey just informed me that he reviewed the agreements reached on the evals around the state, and that in every other district outside of NYC every teacher has the right to appeal. Only in NYC is this right limited to 13%.
It was news to me. I wonder how many of the delegates that will attend Thursday's DA are aware of this?

Anonymous said...

Guess all of you ICE slugs were wrong. There was no fix. All your conspiracy theories were disproven. Feel free to apologize now. Even if you don't, your credibility has taken a hit. Maybe all of you can get with Lance Armstrong and formulate a gameplan! Lol

Anonymous said...

ICEblog was right. Read the post.