Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FEWER OBSERVATIONS FOR TEACHERS VOTED DOWN BY UNITY

I tried folks; I really tried to convince our union's majority Unity Caucus to see reason and vote for fewer observations for teachers. Below is the motion I introduced earlier at the Delegate Assembly for two observations for teachers followed by my motivation in support of it.

The DA Unity majority (Michael Mulgrew's political party) voted the motion down after UFT Secretary Howie Schoor spoke against me. I respectfully asked that the speaker against be a teacher who is subject to Danielson and not an officer or retiree but I guess Unity didn't trust one of their people who actually works in a school.

President Michael Mulgrew after the vote stated for the record that the UFT pushed for two observations for teachers. They must have not pushed very hard as we have four as the minimum.

In negotiations with the city, all Mulgrew had to do was say more than two observations and we're walking away from the table. Most unions around the state have two observations. Some of us in our sleep could negotiate better than this group.

The only way it changes is if people get the word about this outrage into the schools.

Motion for Delegate Assembly
January 18, 2017

Whereas, State law now mandates 2 observations per year for teachers; and

Whereas, many teachers would benefit from fewer observations than the minimum 4 UFT agreed to; be it therefore

Resolved, that the UFT will demand for 2017-18 and beyond 2 observations per year for most teachers.

Talking Points
The teacher observation system, particularly under the Danielson framework, is broken beyond repair. In many schools, administrators use the observations to scare the living daylights out of teachers. Comments on the ICE blog tell horror stories where teachers live in fear of drive bys where they can be unfairly criticized on those cookie cutter domains. For most of the rest of us the observations are a huge waste of time where we learn virtually nothing to improve our teaching practice.

Under these circumstances, the vast majority of teacher unions across the state are agreeing to have a minimum of two observations per year for teachers based on the new education law 3012D. New York City has a minimum of four for this year. It’s excessive.

For the future, we should go to two like most other districts. Teachers would be happy as would sane administrators. The argument against fewer observations is that the more observations administrators do, it forces them to do their job properly and if they don’t, we can fight them in APPR complaints. The reality is by compelling more observations, administrators are getting practice and practice makes them do the hatchet job better. I’ve seen this with my wife who has been relentlessly attacked by administration and we fight off what we can but they are getting better after they lose.

Administration could always do as many observations as they like. We could put in a little clause that says two is the minimum and there should be more for teachers who have particular needs as the Office of Appeals and Reviews mandated under the old S or U system. Putting this little line in would force the viscous principals to do it right while sparing the rest of us from the ordeal that is the 4 observations per year.

I would also like to point out to the Delegates that Friedrichs the Sequel is working its way through the federal courts and mandatory union dues may soon be a thing of the past. Members need to know the UFT is fighting on their behalf. By pushing for fewer observations, it would take a giant step in the right direction.

In closing, I respectfully ask that a speaker against this motion at least be someone who is evaluated by Danielson and not an officer or retiree who has never been subjected to it. Instead, I urge you to pass this motion to push for fewer observations.

40 comments:

Bennett Fischer said...

James, thank you very much for trying at the DA today. I especially appreciated your plea for a working teacher to present the argument against. Well done.

To put the lie to Mulgrew, at our CL meeting two weeks ago, one of the UFT shills who spoke to us about APPR, bragged that the CSA pushed for only two observations but the UFT fought back and insisted on four (or more). Another great victory!

Bronx Teacher said...

In last 4 days have had conversations with 2 teachers from 2 different Wedtchester County districts on how often they're observed.

Math teacher Byam Hills (Armonk) HS: One informal, one formal.

5th grade science teacher Ardsley Middle School; one informal by administrator from within district, one formal by own principal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for speaking up for the rank and file, James. Add me as another voice who considers four observations far too many.

As a HS teacher, it is quickly approaching the end of fall semester; would you believe all of my official observations are done already? I have also had a bunch of unofficial visits from higher-ups, that if not for the fact that they lasted under fifteen minutes would have been evaluative, and inter-visitations that I needed to prep in addition to the four visits I referenced previously. It adds up to a heck of a lot of paperwork and unnecessary stress. Keep in mind, I am anticipating more visits during the spring in preparation of an SQR and perform other duties for the school besides teaching five class periods per day.

Mulgrew loves to tout the fact we less paperwork to do and that paperwork is down. Wrong. My description is not hyperbole nor am I complaining or particularly upset. I am simply fed up and worn out. I have experienced these conditions in the past, as I taught at a charter school before joining the DOE. The charters with which I am familiar make teachers do endless, incredibly useless, and often fictitious paperwork to support their existence. I'm afraid we have reached that point in the DOE.

A close family member has directly or indirectly taken part in transit negotiations with the City for the better part of forty years, including the most recent contract. From a young age, it was drilled into my head that a union should never give back what was fought for and gained in the past and union heads cannot be afraid to walk from the negotiating table. Mulgrew apparently did not learn these lessons. I will definitely be spreading this around to my colleagues. Keep up the good fight.

Anonymous said...

After the delegate meeting around seven o'clock saw Leroy Barr and many of the high ranking union officials in a Chinese restaurant on Broad Street. Mr. Barr was making some sort of speech and all the representatives were listening intently. Is this what happens after every delegate meeting? It was the Unity debriefing of the meeting?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a Unity Caucus steering committee. Not after every DA, and I think MORE/NA has similar meetings, so I don't think you stumbled upon a witches coven.

ed notes online said...

Not a witches coven? Then why were they all sitting on brooms?

Anonymous said...

Dear UFT -

I WANT ONLY TWO OBSERVATIONS!!!!! NOT FOUR.

Signed,

Pissed off NYC Teacher

Anonymous said...

If we tried to get 2 observations and actually follow state law,why was Amy and company telling CL's that UFT was uninterested in reducing observations for stakes?

Anonymous said...

I can tell you no one in my school wants to be observed by someone outside of my school. That's a good thing we got - no outside evaluator

Anonymous said...

Because that was last week's spin. New spin is it is Farina's doing. She said no. Mulgrew then countered with 4 and intervisitations.

Anonymous said...

Punch in, punch out, get paid, repeat. The doe made it that way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your hard work and trying to create concrete change. This, at times, seems so pointless but we must not lose hope.

Anonymous said...

Get up stand up, stand up for your rights.

Anonymous said...

UFT Unity against teachers.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS WHY I VOTED FOR MORE!!! Thank you for putting up the fight for our evaluations. From what I can see, this is just getting started and we can get our 2 observations if we put the UFT"s feet to the fire. If the rumors are true that the DOE/CSA wanted 2 observations and the rank and file want 2 observations, and the law says we only need 2 observations, then for the love of God, we can get our 2 observations!

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that the UFT did not fight for 2 observations. What I think happened is the people at the negotiation table were simply lazy. They thought: "Hey, teachers in NYC already have 4 observations right now, no need to change anything". The massive mistake the UFT made is that they do not realize that this is not 1998. Teachers read education blogs, read up on new educational laws as soon as they are released, and they communicate to each other via social media. The UFT did not anticipate the fact that many, many, teachers knew that the new law says that 2 observations are all that are required. In fact, I knew about this over 2 ago when the law was first released. (Most districts got a waiver to wait before implementing the 2 observations) The proverbial cat is out of the hat now and in a very short time there is going to be a lot of rage directed at the UFT for selling us out on the 4 observations. If we simply get the 2 observations that almost every district now has, the stress level for teachers in NYC will shrink tremendously. This is such a no brainer. Get with it UFT, and get us our 2 observations!

Anonymous said...

This is actually a very good issue for MORE to come together and rally against. The 4 observations demonstrates that Unity does not advocate for its members and does not have its members needs first and foremost at the negotiating table. How can NYC be singled out of the entire state to have the most onerous evaluation requirements? It is,as if, there was no negotiation. Teachers need to rally together to get this changed. It affects all teachers equally-no differences to grades, subjects,experience, tenure vs non tenure etc. All teachers need to stand up and ask for two observations.

Anonymous said...

It wont make a difference. The only thing that they will hear is if/we all pull our dues 2 years from now. I can go through all the back stabs and all the chances they had, but why bother...They know we are suckers...But we got that huge $1000 lump sum everybody wanted...And then we got the contract extended and lessened to pay retirees their retro, which cost us at least that $1000...

Anonymous said...

I think the UFT needs to go back to 52 Broadway and re-think the 2 observation part of the evaluation system. NYS law says that 2 observations are the "minimum". Ok, fine, the UFT thinks that 4 is better. However, the rank and file thinks that 2 is plenty. How about a compromise? Since NYC now have 4 observations how about we make it 2 observations for tenured teachers? (Tenured teachers could still choose to have 4 observations if they want to.) Non-tenured teachers would have to have 4 observations so as to make those teachers prove that they can cut it. This way the UFT can save face by allowing tenured teachers to have the choice of 2 observations or 4 observations) This is how the few districts that are not going with the minimum of 2 observations are doing it. 2 observations is a choice for tenured teachers and 3 or 4 observations is mandatory for non-tenured teachers. This change would actually encourage newbie teachers to work hard to gain tenure since they would have the choice to get only 2 observations after they are granted tenure. Compromise is good!

Anonymous said...

No compromise. 2 is quite enough for all of us thank you.

Anonymous said...

Devos is unfit? The students are unfit.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is unfit.

Anonymous said...

2 observations for tenured teachers. 3 or 4 observations for untenured teachers if needed. This is exactly how the rest of the districts in NYS are doing things now. Hey UFT, are you reading this? Do you want to keep your cushy union jobs instead of being stuck in the classroom with 4 observations? Well, you better step up and get us our 2 observations or get ready to deal with what we have. If not the rank and file is ready to walk away and stop paying mandatory dues once the Supreme Court makes NY a right to work state. You want my dues? Get us our 2 observations.

Anonymous said...

2 for tenured and untenured in most districts. We want that too.

Anonymous said...

Right when I think that things cannot be worse this hypocrisy on the part of the United Federation of teachers-unity caucus is appalling! My abject disappointment and anger is infinitesimal.

Anonymous said...

Chaz says the atr rotations stop on Feb 3. I think this is terrible. You have about a 1 in 1000 chance of winding up in a decent place, and then you cant get out...

Anonymous said...

I would say many of the schools I've rotated into are challenging to horrible but people might get the wrong idea. Long Island city for all of us atrs.

Anonymous said...

Really, force placed is the worst possible option, and that is, of course, what we got. considering the shithole schools, in all areas, i may not be able to stand knowing on day 1 i will be there permanently.

Anonymous said...

Im a Brooklyn teacher living in Staten Island. If this is the case, can I now have a Staten Island school? Why not? Whats the difference. Teacher=Teacher. Who cares what borough?

Anonymous said...

I looked at plenty of districts that do 2 observations for all teachers whether tenured or not. Look it up.

Anonymous said...

And would you ATRS if you are placed push for two observations please.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: If the CSA and DOE want 2 observations then teachers should be able to have 2 observations. If the UFT thinks 4 observations is "better" then teachers should have the option to choose 4 observations. This solution is so obvious it is frightening. So, come September all teachers either choose 2 or 4 observations. Make it happen UFT!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey UFT

We want 2 observations like our colleagues around the state!!!

James Eterno said...

Two and through. The members are speaking loud and clear.

Anonymous said...

Hey simmer down kids, it's Mike Mulgrew here-

Now I know you THINK you know what's best for you, but you are just lowly teachers and not very bright at that. I get paid the big bucks for being your brain. So just quit all the whining and trust me.

Anonymous said...

Maybe all that old sawdust from the wood shop has toasted Mulgrew's brain. I will help him hear this: WE WANT 2 OBSERVATIONS!

Anonymous said...

I don't care about Trump or Betsy. I don't work for them. What I do care about is my school and my state of mental health. I want 2 observations and that is really all the UFT should be fighting for right now. The battle is in NYC, not in DC. (Plenty of time for that fight later)

James Eterno said...

Saturday, January 21, 2017 10:15:00 AM Delete
Blogger James Eterno said...
The UFT, NYSUT, AFT have enough resources to fight the national fight and get us two observations per year for most teachers in NYC. This is not rocket science.

Anonymous said...

You got that right James!

waitingforsupport said...

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