The time is right to repeal the awful teacher evaluation laws (APPR) that were passed by the State Legislature to allow NYS to compete for President Obama's disgusting Race To The Top money. New York State United Teachers is taking the lead here.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said in testimony before the State Legislature that we must get student assessments out of teacher evaluation. NYSUT at last year's Representative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution calling for student performance to be removed from teacher ratings.
The UFT is the largest union that is part of NYSUT. UFT and NYSUT are both controlled by Unity Caucus. UFT President Mulgrew and NYSUT President Pallotta are both from Unity. Pallotta was once a UFT District Representative. This makes Mulgrew's actions in Albany, where he testified that the NYC teacher evaluation system could be used as a model by NYS, both confusing and infuriating. Mulgrew is pretty much contradicting NYSUT and what he and his people voted for.
I am not the only one who discovered President Mulgrew's troubling testimony. When we printed it on this blog, our posting received thousands of hits (many more than we usually get). Now, the opposition to Unity at NYSUT called ST Caucus (Stronger Together) has written a letter on evaluation in support of NYSUT's position while critical of Mulgrew and urging action on repealing the current evaluation law. It is copied in full below.
Urgent Call To Action On APPR
With the Committee of 100 quickly approaching, we want to take some time to address the important legislative issue of APPR. The moratorium is expiring and Commissioner Elia is looking at various approaches to solve the problems of the current, flawed APPR model. It is critical that we get APPR right!
At last year’s Representative Assembly, NYSUT delegates voted unanimously to oppose the mandatory use of student performance measures in teacher evaluation. We are excited to see the NYSUT officers supporting this resolution in their lobbying efforts in Albany and in regional meetings around the state.
In his testimony on January 31st, Andy Pallotta urged lawmakers to make statutory changes ensuring teacher evaluations are “returned to local control with no state mandates.” While this is a tremendous step in the right direction, members will need to continue to put pressure on lawmakers to secure appropriate statutory changes to the APPR law. We will not be able to fix New York’s flawed teacher evaluation system without standing in solidarity through a sustained campaign educating legislators and the public.
All current metrics tied to student performance lack validity and reliability, so eliminating any mandate is the only solution that will ultimately return stability to the teacher evaluation process in New York. At a time when NYSUT has been clear and unanimous about removing state mandates, it is troubling to read the testimony of Michael Mulgrew. He had the following to say in his budget hearing testimony on January 31st:
Expand authentic measures of student learning
New York City’s teacher evaluation system gives schools choices about the kinds of student assessments that can be used in teacher evaluation, including essays and other ways that students can demonstrate their skill. We also give schools choices about how to measure student growth. We know our system is more responsive to the needs of individual schools and their students. It is a model that moves away from one-size-fits-all systems mandated by the state. We believe that the city’s approach could be a model statewide. The UFT believes we need to avoid a return to the testing craze that gripped New York for too many years.
While this system may be what UFT leadership desires, teachers in the rest of the state reject this idea as yet another mandate from the state. This can only be seen as more of the same. The fact remains that whether essays, portfolios, or tests, there is no valid or reliable formula to integrate student work into a teacher evaluation system. We agree with Andy Pallotta as he brought forward the unanimous position adopted by the NYSUT Representative Assembly: there should be no state mandate on student performance in our APPR. Michael Mulgrew’s position is not consistent with the will of New York’s teachers, the NYSUT Representative Assembly, or the NYSUT Officers.
Commissioner Elia’s survey on New York’s APPR is a tool of misdirection; we fully support NYSUT’s boycott. The format and lack of organized distribution make this an inherently flawed instrument. As we have seen in previous surveys from SED, ridiculously small sample sizes are used to represent the views of the state’s parents and teachers. We are in full concurrence with Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango when she asserts, “The state has had at least six years to listen to the voices of teachers and parents who are angry and frustrated with this broken teacher evaluation system. We don't need any more surveys or delays. This is the year to fix it. Evaluations must be returned to local control with no state mandates.”
In response, we are urging you to do two things:
Do not promote or respond to Commissioner Elia’s survey on APPR. If you have asked your members to fill it out, we are encouraging teachers to weigh in against using ANY form of student performance. Phrases such as “there are no effective or valid student performance instruments appropriate for use in teachers’ evaluations” and “return APPR decisions to local control” should be used frequently!
In the upcoming Committee of 100 meetings, we are encouraging NYSUT members to impress upon lawmakers the importance of getting rid of state mandates and returning local control to APPR. We do not need more flawed and invalid models of evaluation-- we need local control!
We look forward to seeing you at the Committee of 100 meetings and the NYSUT RA!
ST Caucus Executive Committee