The email says the UFT and NYSUT are already mobilized to fight Campbell Brown as she goes after tenure with a lawsuit and a public relations offensive against teachers' fundamental rights. Even though I will support almost any union action, including this one, I am sorry but I am not feeling enthusiastic about battling for my rights alongside leaders who regularly surrender them.
Randi Weingarten routinely weakened tenure and seniority rights for teachers in NYC with deals she negotiated when she was running the UFT. The UFT gave away the right for teachers in the city to have a three person panel hear our tenure trials. City teachers must face a single arbitrator in dismissal hearings instead of a three person panel as happens in the rest of the state. NYC teachers can also be suspended without pay before a tenure hearing based on probable cause from what are often biased Special Commissioner of Investigations reports thanks to Weingarten's appeasement strategy.
Add to this when schools close or downsize, as happens all the time in NYC, seniority means next to nothing. Thanks to Weingarten's 2005 giveaway contract, teachers are thrown into the Absent Teacher Reserve pool when schools phase out or programs are cut. Teachers become substitutes who are tossed around the system and have fewer rights than colleagues. She also agreed to weaker due process for teachers having difficulty with time and attendance. As AFT President, Weingarten has continued her concessionary strategy when helping to negotiate contracts in places such as Newark, NJ and for other locals.
Under Michael Mulgrew's stewardship, tenure-seniority rights have been further eroded in NYC as he and NYSUT accepted a dreadful new teacher evaluation system to get some federal Race to the Top peanuts. Under the new system, much of our annual rating is based on student test score results which research shows are not reliable measures of teacher effectiveness (junk science). After two annual ineffective ratings, as long as a validator agrees a teacher is ineffective, the burden of proof in tenure hearings will soon shift to the teacher to prove he/she is not incompetent. Ask any teacher who went through the similar Peer Intervention Plus program under the old system if they had any chance in their dismissal hearing after an outside (non Department of Education) intervener said they were incompetent? The answer will be no from what I have been told. Note the burden of proof was still on the employer; by next year it will move to the teacher.
Absent Teacher Reserves have had tenure protections further diminished under Mulgrew as ATRs are now shifted from school-to-school on a weekly basis. In addition under our latest contract, if two principals can cite an ATR for undefined "problematic behavior", the Department of Education can bring the ATR up on charges in an expedited one day State Law Section 3020a discipline hearing within 50 days. The ATR can then be summarily dismissed based on whatever problematic behavior turns out to be.
Under the new contract if an ATR misses two mandated interviews without giving adequate notice (up to the DOE to say what that means), that teacher is considered to have resigned without any tenure hearing and will have to fight to get back on payroll.
Tenure has been so eroded in New York City that it is a shell of what it once was. Statistics show many cases end up with teachers resigning or retiring so don't buy it when someone claims how it is impossible to fire teachers. Forcing someone to quit has the same result. Anybody who believes the myth that tenure guarantees teachers jobs for life (or even full due process in NYC) does not know what they are talking about.
Furthermore, almost half the teachers in the city have their probationary period extended or don't receive tenure at all and the union does nothing but complain about why so many new teachers are leaving on their own. Maybe one of the causes of newer teachers quitting is because they have so little union protection. The great myth is the union is so powerful. In reality it is a paper tiger, declawed long ago and therefore an easy target.
The endgame for this fight against tenure led by Brown, high powered attorney David Boies and their secret huge donors is our union will fight back loudly (busy work for the membership) and then quietly appease the Democratic party establishment by possibly agreeing to chip away a little more at the tenure law in New York State, particularly for New York City teachers. That's right, we will face further concessions where our union will declare victory when we give up more of what is left of our rights.
The only variable preventing this from being an almost surefire result is the ethically challenged, anti-public school teacher Governor Andrew Cuomo is making Nixonian style mistakes concerning his role in interfering with the Moreland Commission investigations of corruption in NYS government. Thank you Reality Based Educator for nonstop coverage over at Perdido Street School. As a result of this scandal, teachers may not be frontline targets in Albany for a while.
The email from our three renowned union leaders is in full below.
|From:||NYSUT (firstname.lastname@example.org) This message is in your inbox because you've indicated interest in this sender.|
|Sent:||Tue 8/05/14 3:05 AM|