It is not surprising that the resolution passed as Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus has a huge majority at the Executive Board. Members of the Unity Caucus agree they will support positions of the caucus in union and public forums.
What is shocking is that only one of the seven New Action-MORE-independent high school representatives abstained. Two were absent but the other four went right along with Unity supporting a resolution to promote a bill that changes very little in teacher evaluation. One of our seven reps wrote as recently as February these words about student test score based teacher evaluation: "It's funny because when junk science opponents (like me and Diane Ravitch) object to said junk science..." Here is a link to this piece which I agree with. Unfortunately, the bill the UFT and NYSUT are pushing continues the use of junk science in teacher evaluation. It just changes the options of the tests that can be used to evaluate us. Diane Ravitch correctly termed the bill a "sham" in her excellent analysis.
From Diane's blog:
Recently, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon issued a press release calling for the repeal of the state teacher evaluation system, which links teacher evaluation to state test scores of their students.
Almost immediately, the State Assembly (in Democratic control) announced that it was writing a bill to revise test-based teacher evaluation. The Assembly bill passed overwhelmingly, but it was a sham. Instead of repealing test-based teacher evaluation, it said that districts could use the test of their own choosing to evaluate teachers, so long as the test was approved by the State Commissioner. That does not repeal test-based evaluation, and critics warned that there might be “double-testing,” once for the state tests, another time for local tests.
New York State Allies for Public Education, Leonie Haimson's New York City Parents blog, Democratic candidate for Governor Cynthia Nixon and now MORE's Jia Lee (who is also the Green Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor) want the entire evaluation system repealed. Jia correctly calls the bill going through the Legislature "smoke and mirrors."
The ICEUFT blog goes out of our way be fair to our union leaders to try to understand their point of view.
Here is what we learn from Arthur Goldstein's report from last night's Executive Board meeting on this issue:
Evelyn de Jesus—Bill sitting in Senate. Bill says should be local control over teacher eval. We know teachers want to get rid of mandate. Locals should have other options. If doesn’t pass, moratorium will expire. We want to control our own destiny. Please vote for resolution.
Mike Schirtzer—Why are we not calling for repeal of 3012d and c? Agree it should be local. Trusts UFT to work out system for us.
Schoor—Lot of moving parts, some state law, some local negotiations. Some will be on table, some not. We try to do things that can actually get passed. That’s why it’s part of law. Other part would not get past State Senate. Trying to get what we can passed. We feel it can get passed now, other things not.
Schirtzer—Would bring back some local control?
Schoor—control over tests. Will no longer mandate Regents.
Oh my word, the UFT is giving the "It's the best we can do" argument in support of their sham bill. Could they at least come up with something better? It's the same thing they do in contract negotiations. How does the UFT know that they can't get the evaluation law fully repealed if they don't even try?
It is obvious that tweaking a terrible law is not sufficient. If we go from using the Regents exams to rate teachers to an equally or more unreliable state approved city MOSL exam, this is still junk science. I would not support trading one version of junk science for another as it won't help our constituents in NYC.
If this bill does pass, the UFT and NYSUT will once again declare a major victory but teachers will return to school in the fall and realize virtually nothing has changed and they will become even more cynical about their union during their four Danielson drive-by observations.
It would be much better to ask now for a full repeal and make it a big issue in the campaign for governor, particularly with Cynthia Nixon running to the left of Cuomo in the Democratic primary.
The UFT and NYSUT are also opining that the moratorium on using the dreaded grade 3-8 state tests to rate teachers ends after the 2018-19 school year so if we don't have this bill, teachers will be judged on those tests in the 2019-20 school year. That timeframe is all the more reason to make full repeal the goal now and if we have to, then settle for something next year when even if Cuomo wins reelection, he still needs to show his progressive credentials if he wants to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2020. We might have maximum leverage when Cuomo tries to move left to win the nomination. Instead, if we get this bill passed now, we will look very pushy to be going to the Legislature a year after they gave us something on evaluation and trying for more.
Sadly, I don't believe the UFT will go for repeal regardless of what happens in Albany now because the Union favors as Mulgrew says "the use of multiple measures..." to rate us. Translation, student assessments should be part of our ratings according to our President. We fundamentally disagree on this issue.
Today, I am just a little heartbroken as we have worked so hard, particularly in the last few months, to put out and spread a petition to repeal of the evaluation law and hoped to get full support from the seven people we helped to get elected to the Executive Board. At least Mike Schirtzer abstained which I can respect. Two were not present but our other four high school representatives in my opinion made a mistake voting in favor of a resolution that calls for the UFT to push a bill the Union says will "fix the state's broken teacher evaluation system." That bill will do no such thing. We are stuck with test based teacher evaluation for a long time unless Nixon upsets Cuomo in the primary or something else drastically changes after Janus.