The Education Transformation Act of 2015 is a disgusting piece of legislation. In making the case that the UFT should oppose its repeal, UFT Vice President for Middle Schools Rich Mantell argued before UFT Delegates last week that we don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater as there are good parts to this law that we don't want to lose.
The ICE-UFT blog has looked at the law anew to see if there are any redeeming features in it. Our analysis shows that out of eight subsections, maybe one or two parts could be kept and it wouldn't be horrible news but overall the provisions of this law are as overwhelmingly horrific for education and educators as we have stated. Let's review each sub-part.
Sub-part A-500 scholarship awards for those looking for Masters Degrees in Education. This is nice but way too little to solve the pending teacher shortage as teachers continue to be bashed by the state and nationally.
Sub-part B-Raises the grade point average required to get into teaching programs in college. Increasing the requirements to enter teaching while cutting pensions and making the job a nightmare by an oppressive evaluation system is ridiculous. I guess the state is trying to ensure a teacher shortage so they can hire more teachers through alternative certification routes and pay us less.
Subpart C-Beginning in 2016-2017 teachers must register with the State Education Department and take 100 hours of continuing education. I almost forgot about this one. 100 more hours of listening to edu-babble is certainly something I could do without. Registration is just another useless bureaucratic requirement that serves no useful function.
Subpart D-Extends probation for new teachers and principals to four years. How does this help anyone want to pursue a career in teaching? Three years of probation is quite enough thank you.
Subpart E-New evaluation system for teachers and principals. This is the evaluation system based on the matrix that makes student test results (junk science) count for half of our annual grade. It will be up to the State Commissioner of Education to set the minimum number of observations for each teacher. The outside observers observing us at least once a year are included in this provision too.
Subpart F-A testing reduction report must be done by the Chancellor of the Board of Regents. This had to be in by June of 2015 and is meaningless.
Subpart G-New dismissal procedures in 3020b hearings for tenured teachers. Expedited dismissal is in here. Two years of ineffective ratings creates prima facie evidence of incompetence. For those who are not up on their legal terms, here is the meaning of prima facie from Google: "based on the first impression: accepted as correct until proven otherwise." Teachers are guilty until proven innocent under the new procedures as we have maintained. Certain teachers will have to prove fraud to survive. Anyone who believes in rudimentary fairness must oppose subpart G. For those outside of New York City, this provision also compels a single arbitrator rather than a three person panel for dismissal hearings. New York City gave up the right to a three person panel some years back.
Subpart H-State takeover failing schools. This is the part that creates receivership where a receiver can be appointed who can basically throw out the collective bargaining agreement and force teachers to reapply for their jobs.
For a UFT vice president to state at the Delegate Assembly that we don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater concerning this pile of garbage legislation shows that either the UFT leadership and their blind followers in the Unity Caucus are ignorant of the provisions of the law or they support them.
Either way, they do not deserve to remain in office. I would hope that the people in MORE and NEW ACTION would make this a big part of the election campaign.