Monday, January 21, 2008

DOE's Secret Plan for Merit Pay...Without the Pay!

by Marjorie Stamberg, GED Plus, D79

Naturally they had to do it in secret.

Today's front-page New York Times article has caused quite a sensation. It may not have swept the nation, but it sure shook up the world of education in New York.

The Times revealed that that the DOE has a program in which 2,500 teacher in 140 schools across the city are being evaluated on the basis of their students' test scores.

Did you know about this? Of course not. Becaue they've kept it under wraps.

"The move is so contentious that principals in some of the 140 schools participating have not told their teachers that they are being scrutinized based on student performance and improvement."

There are actually 280 schools participating in the program. In 140 schools, teachers are being measured on how many students in their classes meet basic progress goals. In a second group of 140 schools, principals are "subjectively" evaluating teachers, to see how the results match up!

This is really fishy--it flunks the smell test. It proves what we have been saying all along, that the "school-wide bonus pay" is just a wedge to open the way for Mayor Bloomberg calls "performance pay." If these programs go through, it will be a mortal blow to the union and put every teacher at the mercy of the principal or higher-up.
The Time's article saw the connection of these secret program to school "bonus pay" as well. "A new bonus program for teachers and principals, as well as the letter grading system for schools unveiled last fall are all linked to improvement in schools."

The Times said that Randi Weingarten and the UFT knew about this secret program for months and said nothing to the teachers! In a quote, Randi said she could not reveal it because she was told "confidentially" by the DOE and did not know which specific schools were involved. She said she "had grave reservations about the project and would fight if the city tried to use the information for tenure or formal evaluations or even publicized it." (So now it's public--I wonder what she's going to do?)

It's even more outrageous: The secret program is being administered by Chris Cerf, who is deputy schools chancellor. Cerf was hired by the DOE last year. He used to be head of the Edison Schools, the largest for-profit outfit in the country. The Edison schools made an attempt to open up shop in NYC a few years ago, but was defeated by a campaign of the UFT and concerned parents. So Bloomberg and Klein hired Cerf to be deputy chancellor. It's called privatization from within.

So, this brings us to the vote underway in GED Plus on "school wide bonus pay." We are being told by the D79 UFT reps that this is free money, and "why turn down $3,000 for work you would do anyway?"

We have argued that this money ain't free, it's a bribe, it's divisive and it blames teachers for the dire situation of students in NYC. We said, "It's letting the camel's nose in the tent." Well, it's hard to picture Joel Klein as a camel, but more than the nose is now in the tent!

This just underscores how important it is to vote down bonus pay.

But we should all ask our UFT reps what they knew about this secret plan and when they knew it.

As members of the UFT executive board, and as district UFT reps, were they informed about the existance of this program before today? Did they know about it when they were asking us to be part of this agenda? Or did Randi keep it from them as well?

They can't duck this one.

Teachers throughout the system, in every single school, should ask the principals of their schools whether they are part of it and have been secretly evaluated.

Now Randi has a statement out (on the UFT website), calling the secret program misguided and claiming it is in contradiction with the " collaboration and working together.. in the School Wide Bonus Program." No, there's no contradiction--this is all part of the same program and the UFT leadership has acted as enablers.

Hopefully, there is so much outrage now that we, the 130,000 members of the UFT, can stop this privatizing, corporatizing anti-student union-busting now.


Under Assault said...

1. Standardized tests are given in only some subjects and not in others - like phys ed, the electives. Not fair from the get-go, and already against Art 22.A, which deals with "inequitable application" of the provisions of the contract. It's inequitable when you rate some teachers by one assessment method and others by an alternative method.

2. Nothing prevents principals from putting the fix on the teachers they don't want by stacking their classes with the more difficult kids and the poorer learners.

The DOE is setting up a system that is contemptibly open to real abuse. I don't even know how it can stand up in law.

It's also not clear who in the administrative hierarchy will be reviewing the data spew and calling the shots on tenure and termination -- the principal or someone higher up. A teacher's fate may be decided by someone he's never even met.

Anonymous said...

UFT President Randi Weingarten fired off the following response:
“These standardized tests were never designed to be used to evaluate teachers individually. As we’ve said before, school and teacher accountability must be based on multiple indicators that make sense to teachers, resonate with parents and are fair, accurate and transparent. Secretly collecting test score data and basing teacher evaluations on them run counter to any of these principles.

“The data being collected by the DOE in this secretive pilot cannot isolate and identify the effect or influence of any individual teacher, and no statistical Band-Aid can change that. Even the experts agree on that. Neither the law nor collective bargaining agreements ever anticipated data being used this way, and we intend to use both to stop such a misguided use. Imagine principals dictating to teachers who their students are, how many they must teach and what curriculum to use and then evaluating them on standardized test scores!

“Most important, this is a terrible thing to do to kids. It risks turning our school system into Test Prep, Inc., with educators doing nothing else but preparing students for standardized math and English tests and denying kids the balanced and well-rounded education they need. In addition, it undermines the commitment to collaboration and working together on a school level that was codified in the School-Wide Bonus program. In sum, there are so many educational and technical flaws in this concept that I find it shocking that the school system is even considering it. The United Federation of Teachers will fight this on all grounds – educational, legal and moral.”

Anonymous said...

Anon., Jeff linked to these Weingarten paragraphs in the penultimate para of the original post. Did you read to the end?

And are you, by any chance, defending her?
There are many comments on the same subject at, and one of them stands out in particular:


ed notes online said...

Yes. anon #2 seems to be a Unity visitor who actually believes Randi's response today after keeping it all secret for months actually has any meaning.

See, a union is supposed to stand up and fight against this by mobilizing people from the get go instead of letting this go on behind teachers' backs. Oh, did I use the word "union?" So sorry!

I won't go into my Vichy collaborationist theories here since I left that at NYC Educator. But we will have a nice graphic by DB up on the ednotes blog tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Now she makes a statement? Seems to me she is trying to Cover Her Ass.

Anonymous said...

As Norm, NYCeducator, reality-based educator and others always say, watch what she does not what she says. Her language already hints of there being some way in which she might accept this. She knows this will happen and she doesn't want to appear to have lost a fight. Some small tiny meaningless concession or change will be made to the wording of this program to allow her to claim victory. I can already here the UNITY cronies with there "it could have been worse" or "if not for Randi..." lines of cr-p.


Anonymous said...

Randi pledges to fight it (now) but neglects to mention that the UFT knew and protected the secret.

And she allowed the decisions about how should to proceed to be made
"in early summer" ---> just after teachers leave and long before they return.

Another teacher replied to my email on this subject thusly:

Funny, I thought the UFT was on our side.

ed notes online said...

With every passing day more and more teachers see that the UFT is not on their side but acts as an intermediary for the powers that be. In essence, they represent the interests of people like Bloomberg and Klein to the members, using obfuscation and confusion to give the members the impression they are on your side.

If you're asking why they function this way, we would have to delve into the history of the labor movement and the role union leaders have played to control the militancy of the members - militancy that could threaten their own power.

Anonymous said...

The Leo spin on Edwize is also laughable. They express outrage and their defense of Randi expected to be believed.

Already SocStudies Teacher--a Unity Hack--attacked a comment.
(Does anyone know his real identity?)
Rather than discuss, they attack.

Or, like Jonathan, thank Leo for responding so quickly rather than tell him he is full of it!

Anonymous said...

There is a simple way to avoid the limitations of testing, and to give teachers different employment options rather than forcing them to move or remain with a boss they don't like.

It's called vouchers: let parents decide what's best for their kids' education, rather than forcing them to attend the public school they're assigned to. Some parents will favor high test scores--others will see the merit in less quantifiable factors.

Of course, the teacher's unions would never let that happen. Because no matter what they say about the limits of testing, their real objection is to being held accountable for anything.

Anonymous said...

The entire power structure of the UFT is that much more evil and underhanded than the DOE itself since it claims to "represent" our interests. I haven't seen our interests represented anywhere for the past 3 years at least, especially when we lost the right to grieve letters. Then there was the creation of the ATR's; we've all discussed that before. They continue to collect dues and put on this idiotic charade week after week. Randi speaks to rank and file with a forked tongue. I don't believe her or henchmen. They respond nastily to create a smoke screen and divert attention from themselves with their juvenile rhetoric. They are all racketeers and thieves.

Anonymous said...


Teachers are evaluated, but not in secret.
And how can you measure a good school when those that received A's, (from the same people who use these tactics against teachers) gave A's to some of the worst schools and C's to the best.

Every school has its share of "bad" teachers, but I bet if you check the ratio, there are more bad administrators rather than good ones throughout this system. Good leaders know that teacher input results in greater success levels for their students.
Those who treat teachers like pawns do not get the same results unless they just demand test prep instead of actual teaching.

Anonymous said...

So now is the time for real leadership. What do you think we should do? Stop withthe name calling and bad temper. Tell us what you ARE doing about it and what should WE do it about it collectively? - In case you haven't gotten it yet, their hate for us is (hopefully) greater than your hate for her.

Anonymous said...

First of all Marjorie has to be more concise and a little more focused. This isn't the first time. Secondly the fact that you guys "aren't endorsing anyone" makes me worried - why aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Plenty of unions and organizations are not endorsing a Democrat in the primaries.

ed notes online said...

I won't speak for ICE but for myself as to why I don't trust any politician who has to raise lots of money- from who? The extremely wealthy with narrow self interests. The very people who screw us.

They are all beholden to these people and as the WHO says:

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

I'm tired of getting fooled again.
What's the alternative to the corrupt and stacked political process?

Organize. If at least the union were on our side we'd have some way of fighting back. Creating a movement for change in the union requires a Unity sized organization to be built. Of course there is always a danger that even if successful the new boss will be the same as the old boss.

Which probably explains my tendency toward anarchy.

However, for those bloggers who are asking what people are doing. Individual action is good for the ego but it takes an organization to make change happen. For better or worse at least ICE and TJC activists are trying to put together some organized method of getting info out to people in the schools as a start. Where it goes from there, who knows? But there are a lot of people who comment here who seem to stop at that point and don't go any further.

If you don't like ICE or TJC get together with some other people and start your own group. It also starts with some activism at the school level to organize the people you can (it could be 2 or 3) in your school. If there was one person in each school doing this you could put together an organization of hundreds of people. That would have an impact on the UFT.

Back in the 2005 contract battle ICE and TJC got 200 people out.

Imagine the day when we could put a thousand people in front of 52 Broadway to protest!

Anonymous said...

Since Norm is quoting Pete Townshend of the Who, I say he should start singing I Can See for Miles and dedicate it to Randi. You know the line, "I know you've deceived me now here's a surprise; I know that you have cause there's magic in my eyes.

And then when we go to work in the high schools we can all sing, "Don't cry, don't raise your eye; it's only Teenage Wasteland."

The possibilities are endless with such a vast catalog.

ed notes online said...

Pete Townshend for Chancellor.

Anonymous said...

Norm do you know how Pete liked to smash his guitar at the end of the shows. As Chancellor, maybe on his first day he can smash Klein's blackberry.