The Official Blog of the Independent Community of Educators, a caucus of the United Federation of Teachers
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Strategic Error Boxes-Out Class Size Reduction Complaint for Second Major UFT Legal Setback in Past Week
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Bargaining With the Devil: How UFT Attorney Miscalculation Led to the Recent Charter School Victory
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Good Summer Reading on Failure of Business Model in Education & Other News and Commentary
Then there is the related issue about what is likely to happen to the kids who are currently enrolled at the closing schools. At Jamaica HS, they are planning to allow only the high-achieving kids in the Gateway program to transfer into the new selective small school in the building, called Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences . For most of the rest, they will either be forced to drop out, be discharged to GED programs, or given sub-standard “credit recovery” programs, and never be allowed to graduate with a real HS education. A recent summary shows what happened at Tilden HS when it closed. 44 Haitian students fell between the cracks; they “came to the United States in search of better educational opportunities, but they didn’t find it.” There is no evidence that DOE has learned anything from the past and will do anything different in the future.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
UFT Fiddles While Large Numbers of Probationers Are Denied Tenure
Back in November 2010 Mayor Bloomberg and then Chancellor Klein announced "sweeping changes" to the tenure system in the New York City school system. They claimed that tenure was a "rubber stamp" process and needed to be overhauled to assure high quality teachers remained in the system.
Where was the UFT in all of this? Right behind Bloomberg and Klein. In fact Mulgrew "welcomed" the new, overhauled process and help bring in the new evaluation system that was made a part of it.
Then in December the principals were given general guidelines based on "Framework for Teaching" developed by Charlotte Danielson and a rubric. They were instructed to use these guidelines in making tenure decisions.
The UFT either supported the guidelines, as Weingarten signaled in February, or remained silent and complacent. In fact UFT borough offices began to hold information sessions where superintendents were invited to "explain" the new rules to probationers. These included a mandated portfolio, prepared by teachers up for tenure, in which they highlighted their probationary accomplishments within the rubric.
By May 1, the DOE imposed deadline for principals all recommendations and portfolios were to be submitted to superintendents for final review.
Then the surprise. Although it was common knowledge for almost two years that rates for extensions of probation and probationary terminations were geometrically increasing the UFT stood by and did nothing fearing that if they attacked the new rules they would somehow be perceived by the public that they were protecting incompetent teachers.
Reports from all over the city came in which proved that the "new rules" were a sham. Superintendents told teachers that if they worked in poorly rated schools they were not eligible for tenure. Teachers were told they did not have enough time with their last principal to be properly evaluated or their portfolios did not make the grade even though many of them were not even reviewed.
With all of the evidence in what does the UFT do? It makes a Freedom of Information Request to determine the number of teachers affected by irrelevant criteria in end of probation decisions. Mulgrew's letter demonstrates how fearful the UFT is of the DOE. The fact that the letter went out to Chapter Leaders instead of the entire membership and that they waited until the middle of the summer to start their feeble attack clearly indicates they have no real interest in changing the DOE tenure policy both in its design and in its implementation.
A note on tenure…
We have explained before, in this blog, what tenure is and what it isn't. Briefly stated the law defines tenure as that period of time, usually 3 years, where a teacher has performed satisfactorily. Tenure fundamentally changes the employment rights of a teacher from being an "at-will" employee while under probation and fired for any or no reason at all to one that is entitled to a due process hearing where the DOE must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the teacher should be fired before an arbitrator.
So why is the UFT so conspicuously absent in the face of such a radical change in working conditions for so many teachers? Perhaps, their lawyers believe that since tenure is not a subject of bargaining there is legally little they can do. While, admittedly, legal avenues are limited although there are actions that can be brought if the Union knew or cared about its members.
Now, we must wait for a FOIL request to be filled (they can take months or even years) and teachers who have provided competent, efficient and satisfactory service must serve additional probation time or be terminated.
Monday, July 04, 2011
A Failing School? Not to These Students
A Failing School? Not to These Students
By MICHAEL WINERIP
Published: July 3, 2011
Enlarge This ImageEveryone knows Jamaica High is a bad school. The past two years, it has received D’s on its report card from the city and been labeled persistently dangerous by the state.
Librado Romero/The New York Times