Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"U" Rated ATR Wins Appeal Despite "Unity" Representation

While there are plenty of reasons to vote for MORE and dump the "Unity" stranglehold on our membership perhaps the most compelling is the refusal by our leadership to properly represent our members.

Witness Samuel Richardson. Mr. Richardson (not his real name) is a 24 year veteran Social Studies licensed high school teacher who was excessed from a closing Brooklyn school 3 years ago. As with his colleagues he was assigned as an ATR and forced into nomadic purgatory where he shuffles from Brooklyn high school to Brooklyn high school on a weekly basis.

Last year he made it to my high school, Aspirations, and after we got to know each he explained that he had received an unsatisfactory observation for a lesson he was clearly set up. The story was all too familiar. With little notice Mr. Richardson said he would be observed in a class he was the substitute teacher for two days. The next day he was ushered into another class (a much more difficult class behaviorally and academically) and told to teach his lesson before the teacher and observer.

The subject of the lesson had nothing to do with what the class was studying at that point and needless to say the class was somewhat unruly. His observation report was written as if he provided no meaningful instruction and had no classroom management skills.

He reluctantly showed me the observation report. I tried to schedule a meeting with this ATR supervisor to no avail and by the time June rolled around he was given a "U" rating for the year. His supervisor saw him a total of 3 times (twice in the week he was observed) and engaged in no meaningful conversation with him the entire year. The U rating sheet referred only to the observation report and his perfect attendance record.

Throughout the next several months Mr. Richardson and I have been in communication. We regularly discussed appeal strategy and ways to reverse this rating. When he received notice right before the Easter break that his hearing would be today he called me. We met and I gave him a package of materials including the Rating Guide and several court cases dealing with arbitrary U ratings. A retired teacher called him to meet with him and "prepare" for the hearing. He had one meeting with this advocate and gave her the materials I gave to him. He pleaded with her to call me, yesterday.

Yesterday, on the eve of his appeal, a received a phone call from this "advocate." Our conversation was not pleasant. She accused me of cross-examining her and finally stated "If I do all you want me to do I would have no time." I then asked her how she would have felt if she, while teaching, had received a U rating and her advocate told her she had no time for her case. Silence.

It is one thing that the DOE has evolved the U rating appeals system as a kangaroo court. It is another that our Unity colleagues remain complicit and actually contribute to the loss of our members rights.

Advocates are taught to read statements (written by some knucklehead with no legal training) to the U rating appeals officer. They are not given the materials, training or time to adequately represent our members. The jobs are reserved for the Unity faithful in their retirement. In fact there is even a rule that lawyers are not allowed to argue for members.

As a result it is easy for the DOE to affirm almost every U rating appeal and since no record is ever made that would be valuable in Court most appeals to Court are denied.

I just got off the phone with Mr. Richardson who told me how the hearing went. The advocate submitted the papers I had provided him and according to Mr. Richardson used many of the strategies we discussed. There was actual questioning of the rating officer and at the end of the hearing Mr. Richardson was informed his rating would be reversed.

A vote for Unity is a vote to not only perpetuate this system but actually codify it by placing a quota on appeals and needing Unity's permission to appeal. This is America?


Raving Lunatic said...

You fail to note that we at Unity get .4% of U ratings reversed. Typical one sided reporting.

Anonymous said...

Observation reports don't contain facts or statistics.

Speak to Betsy about this.

Washington Sanchez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff Kaufman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SIXfigureSALARY said...

Your article title and content is simply not true, but MORE/ICE has proven before that the truth doesn't
matter. Anyone who is knowledgable about the process knows that the decision is not made in that moment, at the hearing. Good try though. MORE/ICE new slogan:

MORE/ICE we will lie our way to a losing effort in the UFT elections and we promise to always complain without giving any real solutions.

Give me a break. You know what to do Vote UNITY
for proven leadership. Don't believe their lies.

Anonymous said...

That .4% winning percentage is great leadership. That's 4 wins out of a thousand cases. Proven leadership for sure. I voted MORE.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone reading this blog have a copy of the training material that is provided to U rating advocates?

If "yes," it needs to be published here for detailed review and analysis.

Such material undoubtedly needs to be updated based on decisions of the Commissioner of Education and the Courts, changes in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education and in the Education Law, etc.

In theory, for a teacher to receive an S rating, either of the following needs to take place on the teacher's part:

1) sufficient competence

2) improvement and a willingness to learn

See page 9 of this old edition of "Rating Pedagogical Staff Members."

(Why hasn't the UFT posted the latest edition?)

Francesco Portelos said...

I am constantly sitting here consulting teachers who are up for termination or discontinuance of probabtion. By "here" I mean the Rubber Room. See picture ( Guess what they ALL say...guess..go ahead and guess. "The union is not doing anything to help me." I had to show someone how to appeal to Grievance office since they wont grieve and save his career. That was yesterday.

Check out:

Anonymous said...

You are not Washington Sanchez.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Kaufman: a legend in his own mind.

Raving Lunatic said...

I'm glad to see we're getting back to elemental name-calling. That's the best way to respond to scurrilous attacks that fail to acknowledge our .4% success rate.

To bolster our argument, let's please start accusing people we don't know of doing bad things to people we can't name.

Anonymous said...

I knew Washington Sanchez.

I worked with Washington Sanchez.

Washington Sanchez was a friend of mine.

You, Senator, are no Washington Sanchez.

Anonymous said...

They're handing out "U ratings" in many schools as if they are candy! The UFT is doing nothing about it! Good teachers, with years of success in the classroom are being "U rated" and the UFT is not doing anything.
Question: How do these "U ratings" fit into a new evaluation agreement, if one is reached by year end?

Arthur Goldstein said...

It will be reached, or it will be imposed by John King. I went to a meeting where we were told by Leo Casey that most rating appeals would be processed as they are now, but that 13% would be chosen to go to independent arbitrators. At a more recent meeting, I brought that up and was informed that I am not always right.

While it's true that I am not always right, my memory's still pretty good. Hopefully Leo isn't always right either, because he wrote a column last May 12th stating the same thing in Edwize.

Washington Sanchez said...

Everyone wants to be me and get a 6 figure salary for going to schools to put Unity literature in the mail boxes on union time. I love this gig.

Anonymous said...

Let's contact our state senators and the governor and demand a stop to having our okay checks raided by our do-nothing union.

Anonymous said...

read pay checks

Anonymous said...

Choice to belong to the union... Right to work.
ICE = MORE. ICE = Right to work. MORE = right to work. You all need to get your house in order. It is a good thing MORE is forming a steering committee or folks like "anonymous April 27 9:52". Could be on the MORE SLATE next time. Anti union rhetoric, get over the loss and don't lose sight of the shared fight in which we are all involved.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, can you post the specific captions and citations of the court cases that were cited, and discuss the details of your strategy? Also, what, specific advice did you give to the UFT Advocate in order to help Mr. Richardson?

What types of questions were asked of the principal? Did the principal withdraw the rating? Usually, the hearing officer never reveals an upcoming recommendation.

I have heard that in a number of U rating appeals that went to the Commissioner of Education via an Education Law §310 appeal, a transcript of the hearing at the Office of Appeals and Reviews was submitted by the Department of Education.

These hearing transcripts should be obtained by the UFT and incorporated into their training materials.