There is a portion of the law (the second part of the student performance portion of the teacher evaluation system) that needs to be negotiated with each union local and the school district to be fully implemented. Here is what the law states:
The local collective bargaining representative shall negotiate with the district: A. Whether to use a second measure, and, in the event that a second measure is used, which measure to use, pursuant to subparagraph two of paragraph A of subdivision four of this section and
B. How to implement the provisions of paragraph B of subdivision four of this section, and associated regulations as established by the commissioner, in accordance with article fourteen of the civil service law.
Forget the legal mumbo-jumbo of most of this; it appears to mean teacher unions have a say in how this law is carried out with regard to the second part of the measures of student learning portion. This part is only a small piece of the huge monstrous statute but it opens the door to giving us a say.
Which brings to mind this question:
What happens if the unions don't do our part in implementing the law?
The answer is that in order to receive most of the increase in school aid from the state, each union and district must have an agreement on this part of the new evaluation system in place by November because the evaluation system has to be fully implemented by then. Here again is the language of the law:
Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law, no school district shall be eligible for an apportionment of general support for public schools from the funds appropriated for the 2015-2016 school year and any year thereafter in excess of the amount apportioned to such school district in the respective base year unless such school district has submitted documentation that has been approved by the commissioner by November fifteenth, two thousand fifteen, or by September first of each subsequent year, demonstrating that it has fully implemented the standards and procedures for conducting annual teacher and principal evaluations of teachers and principals in accordance with the requirements of this section and regulations issued by the commissioner.
If I read that correctly (I am no lawyer just a humble teacher of social studies and union activist), it means the piece of the law on the new evaluation system doesn't go into effect until our unions agree on a certain provision. Doesn't that give each union local some real bargaining leverage? The consequences of not implementing the law fully are no increase in school aid, not thirty years in jail.
I'd like to dream a little bit here if I may.
What if we just say no?
- What if we literally put our money where our mouth is and tell Cuomo and the Heavy Hearts Club Legislature we don't want their blood money?
- What if a whole group of teacher union locals refused to agree to the second part of the local assessments so the law could not be fully implemented? (The UFT held out for a while in trying to negotiate the current evaluation system with Mayor Michael Bloomberg but then inexplicably supported a process to allow then State Education Commissioner John King to impose an evaluation system on city teachers.)
- What if those superintendents who were with us in this battle to save public education before the law was passed agreed to help us resist?
- What if those principals who will lose some of their authority agreed to support a just say no to Cuomo's deform law movement?
- What if people in NYC understood that the increase in school funding will more than likely not find its way to the classroom so why worry about it?
- What if teachers, rather than go willingly into this horrific new world where we have even fewer rights, finally said "That's enough" this time?
I can hear the naysayers already.
- We will get bad headlines that we are denying funding to the children. We will lose the public relations battle. Cuomo and the ruling elite can hold out and make us look like greedy teachers.
- We risk a Taylor Law violation (job actions are illegal for public employees in NYS) if we don't negotiate in good faith.
It is unfortunate but we really don't have a real teacher union in NYC or at NYSUT any longer. The leadership of both groups will not be impacted by any of this new law so will probably have us make a little noise but ultimately go along as it is no skin off their apples. The law only directly harms people who work full time in schools, the students and their parents. We should not expect much, if any, help from the UFT or NYSUT leadership on any of this.
Any movement to kill this law would have to start with the smaller locals and the rank and file.
When will we learn our lesson? We should have just said no to the Race to the Top money from Washington instead of competing for those scraps of cash that did little or nothing to improve education. The UFT should never have supported legislation to let John King impose an evaluation system on city teachers.
Finally a little more of my impossible dream
True unions would be saying no to the blood money from Albany and would hold out for: an end to any part of teacher ratings being based on student test scores, no receivership for so called failing schools, full restoration of tenure where the burden of proof is on the district and more.
Why not JUST SAY NO to the new education law so we can revitalize our public schools?