Thursday, September 04, 2014


(Janella Hinds is UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools)

Good Day Janella-

We knew teachers at a phasing out school would be at a huge disadvantage in terms of the ratings in Advance and informed you of our concerns when you visited Jamaica last May.   As we move ahead, our issues need to be addressed as most of the teachers from Jamaica's final year have received adverse ratings. The ratings make no sense.
How is it possible for one Jamaica HS teacher to have 73 points and still get rated ineffective (0- 64 points is ineffective according to Advance) when other teachers who had fewer points still received developing ratings? Two teachers who had that exact same 73 points as the teacher rated ineffective and were ineffective in both the state and local portion of the rating still received overall developing ratings. Something does not add up right.

The ratings based on testing are very discriminatory against teachers who work with a very small sample size of pupils who have greater needs than average students as we have alleged all along.  But for the luck of the student draw and fighting for every last Danielson point last year, I too would have received an adverse rating. 

As an ATR (I told you I would be an ATR when you visited Jamaica and yes I sent my resume out, including to Jamaica Gateway, and went on interviews to no avail), I am extremely concerned for all of us.  We could very well be force placed into a school where we will be at a huge disadvantage in terms of being rated because of the nature of the challenges students face that might be beyond our control. 
At the school I have been assigned to for this month (Aviation HS), the Principal informed the staff they were all rated effective or highly effective.  Could this be because they are teaching students who are mainly better prepared than the small group of only 34 students who made up Jamaica's final cohort.  Those 34 were to a large degree English language learners, Instructional Support Services Students and/or over-age.  We worked diligently with those young people.  Is it fair we are being penalized for some students who were non-readers in their home language as well as English? We informed administration of pupils who were programmed improperly during UFT Consultation meetings.  Why should teachers be penalized for who they teach?

I also find it troubling that you negotiated this evaluation system and exempted yourselves from it even though some UFT staff teach and have at least six students so should be covered by Advance according to the law. How can 34 students in an entire school  be a sufficient sample size for our total of eight teachers but a class of 34 for a UFT District Representative is not adequate to be rated by Advance?  We certainly don't have much leading by example from our union's leadership.  One of our teachers emphasized repeatedly to you how we should be rated either satisfactory or unsatisfactory because of our circumstances and we are prepared to take action to achieve this goal.

In addition, I have not been informed about the Queens informational sessions on filing appeals. I guess it should be no surprise as it looks as though UFT leadership shed me from Queens Chapter Leader lists as fast as you could even though there is unfinished Chapter business that still needs to be taken care of.

I am not just complaining here.  I am attempting to move forward more than backwards.  We should come up with a plan about what we can do together as a union to resolve this situation with our adverse ratings.  While we appreciate your attempts to persuade DOE officials to do what is fair by UFT members in closing schools, it does not seem to be working.  The teachers at Jamaica and any other closing school should be among the 13% of teachers who are selected for independent arbitration for their appeals under the new contract.  We are prepared in whatever way possible to work with you toward our goal of erasing these unfair ratings.

In struggle,

James Eterno


CC said...

Good Luck. You got screwed. But on the other hand, most of the schools in the city are pretty much made up of trash, so we are all at a disadvantage. You think the ghetto schools in Brooklyn are any different? Back top square one. Student don't give a damn, are criminals, are up all night drinking, smoking, we get fired, sounds fair...

Anonymous said...

A big part of the argument is simply numbers and statistics. If high school comp time teachers, as well as UFT staff, are exempt from Advance because their one class does not provide adequately for statistical analysis, why shouldn't the same logic apply to all who fall below whatever number is used? No matter what the quality of the student is. Statistically speaking closing schools are skewed. Seems simple and obvious. What should be "sucked up?" Unequal treatment? Lack of explanations?

Docwash said...

The appeal process was published on the UFT website. Teachers in my school were upset about their ratings, too. Some went to the informational meeting yesterday at UFT HQ. There is another informational meeting on Saturday from 10 to noon at UFT HQ. To my knowledge there were no borough meetings scheduled. Advance is not a local thing. Through our city, state, and national unions we are working to fix its many roll out shortcomings.

James Eterno said...

Thanks. Will spread that word to people impacted on informational meetings.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not Janella Hinds-It might have been Cheryl Hinds instead. She supported charter school fund raising in Florida not too long ago.

Wally Hausdorf said...

Good luck, James. You are certainly one of the good ones. The students will suffer because they will not be lucky to have you as a teacher and the teachers will suffer because you were the backbone many of them never had.
I'm glad I am out. The nuts have truly taken over the nut house.

urbaned said...

But why do you have to spread the word about those sessions? Why don't the leaders spread the word about those sessions? It wasn't in any email I received. Who did they email it to? Why not others? Not that they care (because there really isn't any other organizing force in the union to challenge them), but why don't they just do their Damn this case, advertise the sessions. This is why teachers don't care about their union (oh right. That's the plan).

Anonymous said...

What happened to the comment by Janella Hinds? One of your comments refers to her statement but then you cut her statement. Can we have an open dialogue without censorship please?

James Eterno said...

Janella Hinds, to her credit, responded to the open email by calling me up yesterday. We had a productive conversation.She knows I am quite angry with the ratings and with the UFT leadership. We got beyond that.

I was very skeptical that she was the author of the comment here that was attributed to her as I know her quite well and it did not sound as if the words came from her. She confirmed she did not write it. My wife Camille and I immediately pulled the comment.

Janella and I strongly disagree politically and professionally but it doesn't mean we take these things personally or have to make stuff up. Janella is working on attempting to help us overturn those ratings. We will follow up soon.

Open dialogue is encouraged here but there is no need to make stuff up. Long time readers know that I have swallowed many personal attacks here. The tone of this piece is certainly strong but taking someone's name to make that person look bad crosses the line.

Anonymous said...

I had a developing and am now in excess...which is actually great which tells you a lot about my last school. However, I am still on my last chapter leader's email, so I was informed about the appeal process and am going to call the UFT up today to schedule an intake (whatever that means).

I think if a large percentage of people stand up about this, something might get done.

Anonymous said...

Sue sue and sue.

john said...

What are the city stats compared to state stats on Ineffective and Developing.

I argued with James Vasques, Queens DR, that just becuase upstate showed 2 percent Ineffective doesn't mean that's what it will be in the city.

Well Vasques, Murry Bergtraum HS has about 30-40 % Developing/Ineffective combined!