Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Journalist Michael Kinsley once explained that a gaffe in politics is "when a politician tells the truth - some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say."

Chancellor Carmen Fariña's remarks on needing an asterisk for highly effective teachers in their ratings if they go to Renewal Schools is a Kinsley Gaffe of the highest order that needs to be exposed. This latest Kinsley Gaffe is just too important a flub for us to pass on even though Perdido Street School and NYC Educator have already covered it.

These are the Chancellor's words from a Capital NY Piece where a journalist covered her meeting with a Superintendent:

Fariña also said she wants to establish a so-called asterisk for highly effective teachers who move to Renewal Schools.  While Fariña said "its been easier to recruit teachers to Renewals than ever" because of strong professional development and a sense of mission, she's concerned that effective teachers' ratings will drop when they move from high-achieving schools to struggling ones.

Fariña said she was planning to follow one teacher who was leaving a high-performing school to teach at a Renewal School in Ames' Bronx district.

"She's going to do the same assessments she's going to do everything she did before," Fariña said. "But the scores are only going to go to a certain point.  How is that going to affect her rating?  It's not going to make her any less of a good teacher."

The UFT needs to plaster this all over. This is a perfect opportunity to show how rating teachers based on student test scores says nothing about the teacher but everything about who is sitting in front of that teacher.

In 2014 Jamaica High School teachers, especially my friend Steve Heiss, complained vociferously to UFT officials how the test score portions of our ratings were inaccurate because there was such a low sample size of students and many had very high needs.  The Department of Education ignored us as usual so seven out of the final eight teachers at Jamaica High School received either developing or ineffective ratings in 2013-14 according to the state.

Of the eight, three retired this year while I have been tracking the other five.  As of today, I am not aware of any adverse ratings and the test score portion should not change this when our final ratings are available for all of us in September.  We are working with different students now.

Did we all suddenly become better teachers overnight?  No, the populations we are teaching changed. Yes, I know it is a small sample size but it would hold up with a larger group I am sure. Fariña knows this too as does anyone who has ever set foot in a classroom as a teacher.

Do I believe the UFT will scream loudly about Fariña's latest major gaffe?  The answer is they more than likely will let this go as they love our Chancellor.  Union leadership seems to see teachers in Renewal or closing schools as collateral damage in school reform. If we are ATRs, they tell us to be thankful we have a job.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew and AFT President Randi Weingarten have a seat at the table with the powerful Democrats to keep. It is a new kind of unionism. They play nice-nice with the reformers who want to base part of our ratings on student test score results knowing full well it is ridiculous, but they get to sit with the big-shots.


Christina Vickers said...

This is a very informative post. This is the problem with government initiatives that are out of touch with reality and don't include a plan for implementation. Race to the Top sought to "balance the playing field" and gave birth to Common Core. Then NYC took Common Core to the next "level" by scooping up Danielson because they wanted some method to hold teachers accountable. Finally, they sought to "enforce" these changes via teacher ratings. Of course Education is a monkey-in-the-middle game where parents, teachers, students, and anyone with common sense are stuck in the middle, jumping for the ball. I re-blogged this page on my lil' ol' blog at aka @spoiledteacher.

Francesco Portelos said...

I agree. We need UFT leadership to publicize this. Should be in the NY Teacher, but it won't.

Francesco Portelos said...

I agree. We need UFT leadership to publicize this. Should be in the NY Teacher, but it won't.

Philip Nobile said...

As long as we're plastering around bad stuff on Farina, or as I call her "the Beverly Hall of the DOE," how about reading "The Carmen Farina Nobody Knows," an incontestable, morally certain misconduct report on the Chancellor and her cleaner Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon. I have placed this 39-page j'accuse in the laps of NYSED, OSI, DOI, the Public Advocate, the City Council Education Committee, the UFT, and even Farina herself. Nobody will touch it and nobody will say why. Same for the longer version, a 278-page corruption complaint v. Farina and Condon formally submitted to the DOI.

Finally, I confronted Farina during public comment time at the April 29 PEP meeting. It's on youtube--a three-minute stream of bluff calling regarding her role in the cover-up of Cobble Hill Regents tampering scandal when she was Region 8 Super and Klein Deputy.

Farina is not just a bad Chancellor, she has dirty hands. Her shameful handling of the Dewey matter and the suicide case is not incompetence but bad conscience. Because she's a cheater, too. Where is MORE when you need it?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I see this as a MAJOR slip up by Farina. One that could pay dividends for months to come, providing of course we had real,aggressive leadership that was truly serving its membership. A UFT president with BALLS would sink their teeth into this like a pitbull and never let go. But of course we don't hve that. Instead,we have meathead Mike. All bark and no bite.Check that, NO bark and no bite. And you can just bank on him letting this remark just fade away.
Your union dues at work.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew doesn't need any bite here,just a bark. He won't even do that.