Journalist Michael Kinsley once explained that a gaffe in politics is "when a politician tells the truth - some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say."
Chancellor Carmen Fariña's remarks on needing an asterisk for highly effective teachers in their ratings if they go to Renewal Schools is a Kinsley Gaffe of the highest order that needs to be exposed. This latest Kinsley Gaffe is just too important a flub for us to pass on even though Perdido Street School and NYC Educator have already covered it.
These are the Chancellor's words from a Capital NY Piece where a journalist covered her meeting with a Superintendent:
Fariña also said she wants to establish a so-called asterisk for highly effective teachers who move to Renewal Schools. While Fariña said "its been easier to recruit teachers to Renewals than ever" because of strong professional development and a sense of mission, she's concerned that effective teachers' ratings will drop when they move from high-achieving schools to struggling ones.
Fariña said she was planning to follow one teacher who was leaving a high-performing school to teach at a Renewal School in Ames' Bronx district.
"She's going to do the same assessments she's going to do everything she did before," Fariña said. "But the scores are only going to go to a certain point. How is that going to affect her rating? It's not going to make her any less of a good teacher."
The UFT needs to plaster this all over. This is a perfect opportunity to show how rating teachers based on student test scores says nothing about the teacher but everything about who is sitting in front of that teacher.
In 2014 Jamaica High School teachers, especially my friend Steve Heiss, complained vociferously to UFT officials how the test score portions of our ratings were inaccurate because there was such a low sample size of students and many had very high needs. The Department of Education ignored us as usual so seven out of the final eight teachers at Jamaica High School received either developing or ineffective ratings in 2013-14 according to the state.
Of the eight, three retired this year while I have been tracking the other five. As of today, I am not aware of any adverse ratings and the test score portion should not change this when our final ratings are available for all of us in September. We are working with different students now.
Did we all suddenly become better teachers overnight? No, the populations we are teaching changed. Yes, I know it is a small sample size but it would hold up with a larger group I am sure. Fariña knows this too as does anyone who has ever set foot in a classroom as a teacher.
Do I believe the UFT will scream loudly about Fariña's latest major gaffe? The answer is they more than likely will let this go as they love our Chancellor. Union leadership seems to see teachers in Renewal or closing schools as collateral damage in school reform. If we are ATRs, they tell us to be thankful we have a job.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew and AFT President Randi Weingarten have a seat at the table with the powerful Democrats to keep. It is a new kind of unionism. They play nice-nice with the reformers who want to base part of our ratings on student test score results knowing full well it is ridiculous, but they get to sit with the big-shots.