Saturday, October 13, 2018

HOW ABOUT A MAXIMUM OF 3 CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS IN NYC LIKE THEY HAVE IN BUFFALO?

While promoting the proposed new contract, UFT President Michael Mulgrew in his email to members bragged that he got the minimum number of annual classroom observations down to two for most tenured teachers starting next school year. The minimum number of observations is currently four for most teachers. This change on the surface is positive news and a gain that was pushed by rank and file members including our High School Executive Board members and me.

However, when we read the Memorandum of Agreement (the evaluation part starts on page 16), this contract provides absolutely no relief for the teachers harassed the most by observations. In fact, those rated ineffective the previous year have their number of observations increased to a minimum of five! Probationary teachers (a huge group these days) get no relief either on the number of observations and are as vulnerable as ever. The many abusive supervisors in the school system will have no problem continuing to harass teachers with multiple observations if the new contract is ratified as they can still use the Danielson Framework as a weapon against us. They will continue to be able to do unlimited observations. The new contract should make it easier for them to hone in on teachers they are looking to attack to ruin their careers.  The contract would need to include a maximum number of observations to be a real game changer.

A maximum number of observations is not a pipe dream. A ceiling on the number of observations is legal under current state law and has been negotiated in a large city in New York State: Buffalo.

Limits on observations would take so much of the stress out of teaching. One driveby per year! Teachers could stop worrying about administrators invading their classrooms, not to improve instruction, but to look for fault to blame teachers.

Here is part of the Buffalo Federation of Teachers APPR Agreement:

a. Two (2) observations with one (1) being announced and one (1) being unannounced. However, either the principal or teacher may request one (1) additional announced observation for a maximum total of two (2) announced observations. In the event that a teacher or administrator requests an additional announced observation, the request must be made on or before April 11 . 

Two observations and one has to be announced with a pre-observation conference. The option for a pre-observation conference is gone in the proposed NYC contract for most teachers.  If that announced observation doesn't go well up in Buffalo, the teacher can request another one.

Here is the language on pre and post observation conferences for the announced visit in Buffalo:


For the announced observation, pre and post conferences as specified in the current APPR (“Process and Definitions”, Attachment B, pg. 10) will be utilized as updated during negotiations with the understanding that if a teacher utilizes an accrued day off (sick or personal) it will not negatively impact the evaluator’s ability to meet with the teacher upon his/her return to work regarding the observation. In addition, post conferences will be held within 7 (seven) school days after the announced observation.

On the unannounced observation:

For the unannounced observation, the administrator will select a month in which the unannounced observation will occur and the teacher will be notified of the month. Unannounced observations will not occur during the month of September, the day before or after a holiday , or during the last three weeks of instruction in June. Post conferences will be held for unannounced observations in conformance with section (d) above. The teacher will be allowed one (1) postponement of the unannounced observation prior to the commencement of the observation, which shall be rescheduled no sooner than 5 school days and no later than 30 school days after the postponement. 

Can a teacher appeal an overall adverse rating to somebody neutral in Buffalo or can only 13% of ineffective ratings be appealed to a neutral person like in NYC?

The answer is any teacher in Buffalo who receives an ineffective overall rating can appeal to a neutral hearing officer.

Once again, we go to the Buffalo APPR agreement on page 24:

C. Superintendent Appeal – Within 60 days of the receipt of the APPR, a teacher receiving an “ineffective” rating and teachers who receive a Probationary appointment on or after July 1, 2015 and receive either 1) two developing ratings during the probationary period or 2) A developing rating in the final year of his/her probationary term may appeal to the Superintendent of Schools. A hearing on the appeal will be held within thirty calendar days of the receipt of the appeal. The Superintendent or his/her designee will render a decision within thirty calendar days after the close of the hearing. Within thirty calendar days after the receipt of the Superintendent or designee’s decision a teacher may appeal the decision to a neutral hearing officer using the procedure delineated in “D”. 

D. Neutral Hearing Officer Appeal – In the event that a teacher wishes to pursue an appeal after receipt of the decision pursuant to paragraph C above, a teacher may obtain a review by a neutral hearing officer by submitting a written appeal to the Superintendent with a copy to the BTF within sixty (60) calendar days of the receipt of the decision pursuant to paragraph C above. A hearing will be scheduled in a timely and expeditious manner in compliance with Education Law. Said appeal shall set forth the nature of the objection to the APPR. All appeals shall be presented on a form mutually agreed upon by the parties and may be accompanied by supporting documentation. 


This is Buffalo, NY, not teacher friendly Finland.

We'll have more analysis of the new Memorandum of Agreement to show that there are gains but mostly it just adds layers on what we already have. Do we really need more labor-management committees and a clause in the contract where the DOE agrees to do better abiding by the grievance timelines? The MOA looks to me like each of the Department of Education's 300 lawyers had a hand in writing it.


I recommend everyone watch these videos on observations and APPR from Chris Lee that describes how badly NYC teachers are treated compared to other teachers in NYS.






45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you ever happy?

The Koch brothers don’t need to spend money here, they have you.

I mean, really. How about that they finally respect that most teachers don’t need to be tortured with lots of observations? It’s the first step. And, that they should do one fall and one spring. There are teachers who are new or not the great at teaching, yet and they need more guidance. Maybe they will be lucky and have someone who could actually help them (I know it may be rare, but it could happen). Years ago it was twice a year once tenured and below 8B and after that, one a year. This may be the best we can get, for now, so knock off the complaining.

I don’t know if I like this contract or will vote yes or no, yet, but this isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s an improvement for 90% of teachers.

If you were going to write about remote teacher and how that is damaging to teachers (and students) I would at least think you are being reasonable.

Anonymous said...

I am voting no on this contract. The union should have demanded the immediate payment of the remaining lump sum payments. The city is flush with money and all we do is give back

Anonymous said...

Lump payment now, or no. I'm with ya 7:25

Anonymous said...

I wish there would have been a better deal with a maximum of 2 observations. Addressing the weaponized Danielson Rubric would have been more appealing for most I'm sure as it is used as a catch 22 for any teacher which is very stressful. Much of the time administrators ignore so favorable evidence when they should take note of them.
On the aside, I think it disappointing to get a raise that does not keep up with inflation. Those collecting social security are receiving a 2.8% raise to keep up with inflation and working teachers will get 2%? The initial raise should be 3% followed by 2.5% and then 2%. This would be fair and probably appealing to all.

James Eterno said...

When DOE explains contract to administrators, I am rather confident they will tell them this is a minimum number of observations and you still can observe as much as you like. Administrators from hell won't let up.

This is what we get with no leverage. We have no leverage because we don't mobilize and fight like a union. If this is the best we can do with a somewhat friendly chancellor and mayor, look out when there is another Bloomberg.

All that said I do agree this will be an improvement for many teachers.

Peter Zucker said...

James every tenured teacher I speak with from Westchester County has maximum of two observations. Ardsley, Scarsdale, Bryam Hills, White Plains, Harrison, Irvington. Minimum is going to be used as a loophole to be taken advantage of.

James Eterno said...

Totally agree Peter.

Anonymous said...

According to Albert Shanker:

"I frequently speak before school supervisors. When I ask any group of them how many once were teachers, they all raise their hands. I then ask how many of them, when they were teachers, were 'observed' . . . that is, had the supervisor sit in the back of the class, watch a lesson, write an evaluation and then meet with them to discuss his positive and negative criticisms. All of them usually had had the experience. My next question: 'How many of you found that this observation and evaluation procedure helped you to become a better teacher?' Almost no hands go up this time. Finally, 'How many of you continue this same practice?' Once more, all the hands usually shoot up. Why do principals and other supervisors stick to a management practice which almost all of them found ineffective when they were teachers? Because everybody else does it? Because their own supervisors expect it? It's hard to get a straight answer or a good one."

http://source.nysut.org/weblink7/DocView.aspx?id=709

Anonymous said...

Is mulgrew getting less than a 7.5 percent kickback? I think not.

If he’s going to get awful raises then we should get better working conditions.

Maximum of 2 observations, no Monday and Tuesday torture sessions and early retirement

This is a weak contract.

I hope the millennials vote no

Anonymous said...

BIG QUESTION: In our current contract, if we are rated "Developing" in our observations but rated "Effective" by test scores our overall rating is considered "Effective". This is a great item if you have a shitty administrator but good test scores. Is this aspect in the new contract? This is a serious question that needs to be addressed. (Also, NYS law states taht the minimum is one announced formal observation and one unannounced informal observation. How is NYC skirting around this by not having at least one formal observation?)

James Eterno said...

I think the law says one announced observation. I think formal and informal are NYC terms.

The test scores giveth and the test scores taketh away. If you are in a tough school, the test scores with a difficult population can kill your rating.

Anonymous said...

Yes, NYS law says one announced which usually means a formal and one unannounced which usually means informal. Why are we getting screwed by having both our our observations unannounced? I speak for a lot of teachers who would prefer to have one of my observations announced so I can know when my shtty admin is going be coming in with a Danielson clipboard. Can you please answer the question as to if the test scores can boost up a "developing" rating in the new tentative contract? I believe this is a very valid question that needs to be shared with the masses before we vote.

Anonymous said...

This contract sucks and the UFT sucks. How do I opt out?

James Eterno said...

The test score part does not change in new contract, only onservations.

James Eterno said...

Opting out now is beyond stupid. UFT can say you are not a member and take away your right to vote.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read the contract? It says 2 informal for HE or 2 E’s. I believe the state says something about one announced (I think the month) and one unannounced. Since we all have to get trained in Sept together (admins and teachers) that can be addressed in schools and then online.

Most admins are lazy and won’t want to do more than one a semester. If they want to be mean to certain teachers, they will wait and do them in January and late May (so the teacher has to wait it out). If not, they will get them done early and the teacher, for the most part, will be relaxe for the rest of the semester. I assume the favorites will be done early.

This will also cut the need for having so many administrators in a school. Administrators in bigger schools can observe more teachers, therefore they can be responsible for more departments aka both English and History. So that could make administrators more busy, not less.

And, can the people complain about the money get it through their heads. THERE IS PATTERN BARGAINING AND WE CAN’T UNDO THAT. I wish we could get more, we deserve a lot more, but blame DC37 for taking a lousy deal (hey, we did it to everyone else last time).

I assume that they didn’t touch the lump sum money because as soon as you start to change it, it opens it up to other things like reductions. Not touching it seems safer (and yes, I would like the money sooner, too).

I’m not UNITY. I’m not in love with this contract, but I do think that some of the people who worked on it wanted to create protections for teachers since they couldn’t deal with salary, they focused on other things. Will it work? No idea.

I haven’t decided how I’m going to vote on this yet (I’ve never voted yes on a contract), but this seems to be the best one I’ve have ever had (not counting the money).

James Eterno said...

How long do you go back 11:34 for this to be the best contract?

You are right about pattern bargaining being tough to beat but we will never beat it without a fight and we just don't fight.

UFT and cops have best arguments for beating pattern among city unions and city has plenty of money. If I was in charge, I would call PBA head Patrick Lynch and maybe the leader of the Uniform Firefighter's Association. We would find out what we could be willing to do together.

Think that might move city?

James Eterno said...

2
One more point: Only tenured teachers rated H, E or satisfactory get a minimum of 2 observations. Probationers still have 4. Many probationers nowadays. Ineffectives increased to at least five observations.

Anonymous said...

Should be no observations. What's all this crap about paraprofessionals? Screw the paraprofessionals. They should leave UFT also. How do we opt out?

Anonymous said...

This is my 5th year teaching for doe and I feel like I wanna finish this year and then resign. It has been so stressful and a lot to take on. This year my class is more chilled out but still I have a grumpy coteacher, a very large class, all the observations, and a school that no one wants to be at. I just feel like I have been selling my soul for some extra bucks and some benefits.

Anonymous said...

Why is the UFT rushing to push this through? What are they up to? I don’t trust them at all about anything. They are completely corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Contract-
No change to the lump sum payments, as in paid out earlier
no signing bonus to make up for all the time we waited and low % raises
still no maximum observations
still no ability to enforce travel hardship which is already in contract
still no buyout
still no discipline code enforcement
raises are backloaded
raises are below inflation
if you add the 2 contracts, from 2009 till 2022, we got 14 years at about 1.5% per year

Anonymous said...

and no seniority transfer, open market is a sham

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for some people on this blog who are so ignorant about the meaning of negotiations and angry at the wrong people.
Signing bonus for an early contract? Bitching about things that the "UFT" did not get as if the DOE would ever say yes to these things. You don't know what being a Union member is. When you opt out you will just be a freeloader with no voice.

Anonymous said...

How about stopping the DOE targeting older teachers?

Anonymous said...

They are definetly corrupt and crooks.

Anonymous said...

Nah, i paid with no voice. So I wont pay with no voice.

Anonymous said...

Yes, i think below inflation raise over 14 years and holding $50k of my money for 11 years would get me upset. Yes, i think $1k up front would at least be a little something to make it more fair. What about the double zero in 2011 and 2012?

Anonymous said...

Educate us. What’s an early signing bonus with the DOE?

Anonymous said...

To no voice,
How do you currently use your voice to
Support your union brothers and sisters? ( I hope it's not writing on this blog).
How do you stand up with your colleagues to enforce contractual rights in your school? Just wondering what we will be missing.



Anonymous said...

I educated in 2014 about how bad that was and got shouted down by unity.

Anonymous said...

James, I’m 11:34 and I have 28 years of teaching. That’s a lot of contracts and a lot of years of 0’s. I have been a Delegate for at least 15 years (lost count).

The reason that I say that it’s the best (not money) is that at least it seems to address that the school leaders (and then the DOE) cause problems and don’t want to fix it. I mean the word HARASSMENT is in the contract. That’s a big step (I mean doesn’t AA say admitting there is a problem is the first step) and even if it only helps some people, the next contract can make it stronger.

Before I had tenure I had to be observed 6 full lessons a year (and one of them had to be with the Principal), so I don’t mind that new teachers have to have more than 2. I also think it can be used as a building block for the next contract to say, it worked well, now let’s put in some maximums. I do mind all the, “sign this and wait another year for tenure.” That should have been addressed.

If an admin is wants to torture a teacher, watching and giving 1’s and 2’s (assuming undeserved) won’t matter if they do it two times or 10 times. Most admins are lazy and will do the minimum.

Anonymous said...

Nah, it is no improvement, this does nothing to stop the problems, as stated above, and does nothing to improve on what we have or the givebacks over the past 15 years.

Anonymous said...

I live in SI, 20 years trying to get a job in this borough, with a great record, the whole thing is a joke, no help from uft.

Anonymous said...

Why does Carranza keep taking diversity? Every pic he tweets is all black staff.

Anonymous said...

The UFT is corrupt and useless.

Anonymous said...

The DOE with our union leadership's blessing, is trying to reduce the ATR pool, not by putting the ATR back in the classroom where they belong, but instead by thinning the herd with these "flyby observations" and unfairly giving the ATR a "U" rating. It is definetly age discrimination.

Anonymous said...


The contract is a solid contract, best I’ve seen since the 90’s. Roughly 8% over 43 months(compounded), no givebacks, due process and extra money for our paraprofessionals, a process to actually go after supervisors who harrass and retaliate against members, a stronger process to deal with workload, inadequate space, PD, curriculum and instructional supplies, over 90% of our members getting 2 evaluations, expedited class size process, increased safety with CL’s getting OOR’s reports and development of borough wide safety committees plus additional deans, a cheaper faster way to earn the +30 differential, expedited grievance process for salary, ILOD and religious observance, the Bronx Collaborative School Model and many improvements for our functional chapters. Also no premiums for our healthcare something that almost every union(check out the teachers in the suburbs, some parts of Long Island it’s 20%)has to pay. Great contract.

Anonymous said...

Fair student funding is responsible for age discrimination , including but not limited to : negative observation ratings, being told harassing lies during your post-ob , being over-scrutinized on a daily basis as administrators look for anything they can call a problem even when it isn’t a problem, being treated differently than younger teachers and told you didn’t do enough of something during the lesson, false accusations, principals having derogatory conversations about you with parents in an effort to gang up against you, closing schools and dismissing only older teachers who have to go on interviews that they will never win, being unfairly targeted for termination charges, being ATRed and therefore sent like a bag lady or man from school to school. And the list goes on. And this is ALL the result of Fair Student Funding. The observation process is used as a weapon to push older teachers out.

James Eterno said...

There are givebacks in healthcare that are fairly substantial.

Anonymous said...

They should end the policies of discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Be sure to secretly record:

1) The pre-observation conference (if any).

2) The lesson being observed.

3) The post-observation conference (if any).

Anonymous said...

The observations of ATRs in rotating assignments is unprofessional and unacceptable on several counts:
*The ATRs often don't know the students.
*The ATRs often have been covering a class out of license, with or without the regular teacher's lesson plan.
*The ATRs are told to differentiate lessons for the students, but they have not met them or have not been provided their IEPs or other personal data such as ELL status.

Anonymous said...

Our Union is a complete disgrace for allowing its more experienced teachers to be targeted because they became expensive.

Anonymous said...

:38 PM
Veteran teachers and ATRs are being harassed through 3020A hearings to retire or resign. Most of the time these charges are only an excuse to push older teachers out. Most of the time these charges do violate tenure rights by not being voted in Executive Session of the PEP (Article 2A of Education Law 3020A). Only the PEP can determine probable cause. The UFT, and NYSUT will look the other way, and will blame each other. They are openly pushing experienced teachers out the system with the compliance of the UFT, and by violating our due process. This has all been planned for a long time by relaxing the rules, and making it easier for supervisors to abuse the system. Remember the UFT negotiated in a secret deal to have ATRs observed without having any assigned classes in 2014. Now even a roving ATR Field Supervisor can recommend termination since 2016. This is not a fair game anymore. They can start targeting anyone with no consequences if they are acting in bad faith. They will target anyone outspoken first, and they will go after you until they finish the job. The observation process is being manipulated in a way that a good lesson can turn into a bad one because the UFT will not challenge unfairness, further more they are not following on legitimate grievances. It is shameful to see so many teachers in their 50s, and 60s in the rubber room. All this is happening while they hire less qualified, and inexperienced teachers because of Fair Student Funding agreed by the UFT in 2007. It is just a matter of time before they will start targeting you. It is open season, and these supervisors have a blank check to go after ATRs. Once they start targeting you they will continue, and it does not matter if you had 20 years or more of satisfactory service. Even the arbitrator will be pressured to rule for your termination because the DOE will not hired him back.