Thursday, August 23, 2018


Reality Based Educator has struck again as he comments on the UFT hopefully getting two observations per year in negotiations with the city and Department of Education. ICEUFT has repeatedly asked the UFT leadership to get rid of the evaluation system or at least modify it to reduce the number of observations.

I introduced a Delegate Assembly motion in February of 2018 to repeal the evaluation law; Roseanne McCosh and I started a petition (see right side of page) to repeal the evaluation system that over 1,300 people have signed. I also raised a DA motion to get the annual observations down to the minimum number legally possible two in 2017. We have been repeatedly rebuffed by the leadership from Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus. RBE below makes the case that two observations per year is something Mulgrew should have gotten for us years ago. Better late than never but this should have been done once the law allowed it.

His comment:

RBE said...

I agree with some other commenters that getting observations down to two would be a positive move.

I still don't understand why we are the only district in the state to have four. This system we are under was imposed on us by John King at the behest of Governor Cuomo because the UFT and Bloomberg could not come to an agreement on an evaluation system to satisfy Cuomo's APPR law.

Here we are, years later, with John King long gone from not only, the SED but even the USED where he ended up afterward, Bloomberg long gone from City Hall and Cuomo desperate for union support for both his 2018 re-election and 2020 presidential pipe dream, yet we still have four observations and, as of last (school) year, Mulgrew was still hailing this system as a model for the state* and Unity hacks at the DA were claiming the system was the bestest thing since Randi Weingarten's dye job.

Administrators want the system down to two as much as teachers do. Two observations is the requirement under state law. The UFT claimed throughout Farina's reign of error that they had a good working relationship with the chancellor. And yet, here we are still suffering under four mandated observations, eight if you are unlucky enough to be in a district where the superintendent is requiring "formative" observations as well as evaluative ones, and sixteen if you are in special education classes with two teachers, since each needs to be observed 8 times (four "formatives," four "evaluatives.")

What a fucking disaster this system is, people are suffering greatly under it and the UFT has done nothing publicly to fight it or criticize it.

They know people hate it, perhaps they are fighting it behind the scenes as some people say they are.

If so why were they still defending it as of last year, hailing it as a state model and voting down resolutions calling for two observations?

Again, I will come back to the original comment that spurred this post:

Until the UFT leadership are starved of funds and/or forced to fight with a competing entity for members, they will continue to aggrandize and reward themselves and let the crumbs fall off the table to us at best, actively look to harm us at worst.

UFT leadership should have had this system down to two as soon as Bloomberg was gone. That we are almost six years into de Blasio and we still have four observations is a serious indictment of UFT leadership complicity and duplicity against their own membership.

Thursday, August 23, 2018 10:23 AM

Very well said sir.

On the larger issue of starving the UFT of dues, I agree with RBE that as long as the money keeps flowing in, nothing will really change in any substantive way. Since there is no realistic possibility of ousting the UFT leadership in an election (we can't get to most members particularly the retirees who are scattered all over the country), we have to think creatively. There has to be a better way to make our point than for members to just individually become non-dues payers. Not having NYC teachers in a union is not the way to go. It will weaken us.

*ICEUFTBLOG added the link there.


Anonymous said...

The big question is if we can we get those 2 observations by the start of the school year or do we have to wait till a new contract comes out after Feb? My thought is that the UFT can totally come to an agreement with the DOE to get us 2 observations by the start of the school year as this is the minimum as required by NYS law. It is not a contractual item that would need to be ratified by the rank and file. This would be the one time where I would be in favor of the DOE/UFT agreeing on something "behind closed doors". On the other hand I do believe that the one thing that the DOE would not be keen on is having untenured teachers having the option of doing 2 observations. I have read that many districts in NYS have untenured teachers do 3 or more observations per year. (I would be fine with that) Thoughts???

Anonymous said...

If the 2 observations happen due to a contract change in Feb, it would not take effect until the 2019-2020 school year. This change needs to happen NOW before the school year starts.

James Eterno said...

It could change in September if UFT and DOE agree on two observations.

Anonymous said...

The entire observation-evaluation system is one of the biggest frauds ever, even before Danielson.

The UFT and CSA have known, since, at least, 1983, that the system has a minimal to nonexistent value in improving instruction.

In other words, observation-evaluation is practically worthless.

Albert Shanker stated in his "Where We Stand" column in the New York Times on February 6, 1983:

"I frequently speak before school supervisors. When I ask any group of them how many once were teachers, they all raise their hands. I then ask how many of them, when they were teachers, were 'observed' . . . that is, had the supervisor sit in the back of the class, watch a lesson, write an evaluation and then meet with them to discuss his positive and negative criticisms. All of them usually had had the experience. My next question: 'How many of you found that this observation and evaluation procedure helped you to become a better teacher?' Almost no hands go up this time. Finally, 'How many of you continue this same practice?' Once more, all the hands usually shoot up. Why do principals and other supervisors stick to a management practice which almost all of them found ineffective when they were teachers? Because everybody else does it? Because their own supervisors expect it? It's hard to get a straight answer or a good one."

Do some people think that Albert Shanker and the groups of school supervisors to whom he spoke were wrong, and that teachers benefit by being observed?

Please share your personal experiences as to how you've been harmed or helped by being observed.

Harris L. said...

Fully agree with my friend RBE.

The UFT needs a few quick wins six weeks after Janus. It needs to demonstrate that it give a damn about workplace conditions and school-based governance--like right now.

Any union like the UFT facing almost existential financial and political pressures post-Janus would already have put forth a "manifesto" of some sort declaring what it stands for and what it will do for members. Since that's common sense self-preservation we can immediately rule it out for our UFT.

But reducing observations to the same frequency and scope that every other school district requires is what a woke union would do. But our union leadership has a unique theory of teacher assessment that considers value-added student-achievement scoring forced onto some bizarre matrix to be a protection for members.

OK, I retired before the present system came into play and my performance was entirely observation-based. Until moments before I quit I had a reasonable relationship with an otherwise crazy principal and got fair evaluations. Other teachers in my school were run out of the profession because of Laboy-Wilson's schizophrenic episodes. So I get some of our leadership theory. But TWO, not FOUR.

As a matter of fact, a union with a brain would already have given up "Public School Proud" and adopted a simple slogan that members might respond to: "Two, not Four!"

God help you all, my dear colleagues subject to this madness.

Anonymous said...

I’d take 10 observations a week to be out of the Babysitters Club (ATR pool).

James Eterno said...

I like Two not Four! I also think Two and Through! would do. Better still, One and Done! or None and we Finally Won!

Some kind of peer review evaluation system would work much better or at least changing how administrators are hired.

Anonymous said...

The current system of drive by's was artfully designed by Joel Klein to force teachers to be on point every moment of the day. Mulgrew knew the stress this would put on NYC teachers but didn't care because he's out of the classroom, or I should say woodshop.
Working conditions have declined over the past 15 years all the while dues have increased. Only an idiot would continue to pay if they don't have to.

Anonymous said...

My very first observation in the DOE was a disaster. I think the AP felt sorry for me. He didn't write it up. He did sit with me afterward and show me a lesson plan he had once taught and he thought it would work for me. We discussed my disastrous lesson and the lesson he suggested. I taught that lesson about a week later and it went much better. In 28 years teaching, this is the only observed lesson that has made an impact on my career. I stopped reading the actual written observation about 20 years ago.

Two formally observed lessons should be more than enough to satisfy the paperwork police.

Also, with so many incompetent administrators, administrators with no or limited teaching experience, administrators who do not know the content of the subject area they are supervising, administrators who need a checklist (aka Danielson's) to determine the effectiveness of a lesson, etc., it is very difficult to take any observations seriously.

Anonymous said...

Just think how beyond excited NYC teachers would be if we came back to school in 2 weeks and we have 2 observations? There would be a massive change of heart for those tens of thousands of teachers who are pissed and distrustful of the UFT. This simple and easy change to 2 observations would be the biggest morale booster the UFT could accomplish in years. They need to get this done in this post-Janus world. DO IT UFT!!!

Anonymous said...

The UFT won’t do shit. Keep paying them for that privilege.

Anonymous said...

The UFT better start "doing shit" like getting 2 observations otherwise a ton of folks are gonna pull dues. (Including me)

Anonymous said...

They don’t care, they’ve got plenty of money.

TJL said...

The reason we still have 4 is that a decent amount of CSA members (e.g. Leadership Academy sycophants), our own Union leadership, and a significant chunk of the DOE bureaucracy - basically anyone hired under Klein and Bloomberg - actually believes in the current system. They think teachers are inherently lazy and ineffective and must be scared into doing what they think is a good job (note not what is actually good teaching) by being constantly henpecked.

The districts that have 2, have leadership (both Admin and Union) that don't believe in that nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I honestly believe that even asshole admins in NYC would prefer 2 observations as it is less work for them to do. If they want to railroad a teacher, they can easily do that with 2 observations or more simply, just bring up frivolous charges and have them brought up in a 3020a hearing. This 2 observation thing is a totally win-win situation for both teachers and admins. If we do not get 2 observations I will fully put the blame on the UFT for not pushing this topic hard enough with the DOE.