As a member of the MORE Caucus in NYC, I’ve noticed a stark disconnect between the rhetoric of our union leadership and the interests of working teachers. The Common Core is fundamentally undemocratic – not only in its implementation but in its conception. Handing teachers rigid, scripted curricula benefits corporate interests while neglecting students’ need for a developmentally-appropriate and well-rounded education. Teachers’ hands have been tied as the emphasis on testing and labeling harms the most vulnerable children. I am running for an At-Large Director position to advocate for teachers’ professional autonomy. Allow us to teach students, not standards.
During my first years of teaching I missed almost every union meeting. “I’m a good teacher, why do I need the union?” I naively thought. After I raised concerns, I was targeted, removed from my teaching position, and exiled. I realized the importance of unions, and I ran and won the school chapter leader position from exile. As a member of the MORE Caucus in NYC, I have been mobilizing and supporting my school and other educators who read about my fight. My goal is to use my knowledge, leadership skills, and out-of-the-box thinking at the state level now.
As a member of UFT’s MORE caucus, I am running for an At-Large Director position based on my firm belief that democratic engagement of our membership must be a top priority. Our leadership has been complicit with unresearched Race to the Top policies, diminishing our work to scripted curricula and directing incalculable resources away from enriching programs our schools need. The use of invalid standardized tests has put an entire generation of youth, educators, and schools at risk and has promoted a culture of fear. It is time for democratic policies that respect the diverse needs of New York’s public schools.
Support the Opt-Out Movement & Learn How to Organize Your Chapter
THURSDAY 2/27: ORGANIZING WORKSHOP
A LABOR NOTES TROUBLEMAKERS SCHOOL
Come to a workshop on organizing your members to create a more active, involved union chapter. Discuss organizing challenges with other chapter leaders and strategize creative solutions to build teacher and para power in your school!
What challenges are you facing in your school? - Take our Chapter Leader Survey
Thursday, February 27, 5:00pm
TWU Local 100 Offices
195 Montague St., 3rd Fl., Rm C, Brooklyn
FRIDAY 2/28: MEET WITH PARENTS WHO ARE SAYING NO!
Sponsored by Change the Stakes
(Please Share Widely with your friends, PTAs, SLTs, Parent Lists, teachers)
As children and teachers enter the spring “testing season,” parents must decide if we will continue to allow our children to support high-stakes testing. There are many ways to resist the tests and demand social justice for all public school students.
• Help educate your school community, organize, mobilize and possibly opt out.
• Even if you feel like a lone voice, you are not alone!
• It is time for parents to protect their children and resist by saying NO!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28
5:30 to 7:30pm
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Ave, Rm 5409
[corner of 5th Ave & 34th St; entrance on 5th]
Bring photo ID to enter
Special Education Teacher/UFT Delegate
PS 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
MORE is the bellwether, the authentic voice of working educators in NYC.
This is Our Moment!
We are on the right side of history, several steps ahead, waiting for politicians and union leadership to catch up.
Current events bear this out; after the excesses of corporate reform reached their apex in 12 years of Bloomberg, the pendulum has begun, slowly, to return to center. Parents, students, and teachers are mobilizing en mass, and Movement of Rank and File Educators is at the forefront of the resistance. It used to be a lonely place, but it has started to become crowded lately. Positions long held by MORE, like strenuous opposition to high stakes testing and the use of VAM growth scores to evaluate teachers, were until very recently considered by the power structure to be extreme. Now, they are core tenets of UNITY* doctrine, and have the potential to be heard with a more sympathetic ear under DeBlasio and Fariña.
In April, the New York State Teachers Union (NYSUT-the state association of teachers unions that the UFT is part of) will be having elections. Since UFT/Unity has a great deal of power in NYSUT, MORE was asked by statewide activists in the Port Jefferson Teachers Association to get involved.
We are excited to announce that we will be running for the 6 At Large positions on the Board of Directors that represents the NYC schools’ district (UFT) at the state union level. Our candidates are Julie Cavanagh, Lauren Cohen, Michael Schirtzer, James Eterno, Francesco Portelos, and Jia Lee.
We will be campaigning for our statewide union to take a stronger stand against test-based teacher evaluations, for more union democracy, and for building an active rank-and-file membership that works in solidarity for improved working and learning conditions.
As teacher and union activists working inside the framework of a deeply undemocratic union and against the formidable resources available to the implacable “corporate school reform” movement it is inevitable that we momentarily lose heart, even hear a cynical “voice” from inside ourselves about protecting public schools and the welfare of students we care about so much. Then something happens, something wonderful. We find again that we have remarkable allies and that over time, perhaps more time than any of us would like to think, we will prevail in the work we do to teach our students well, preserve professional autonomy within our classrooms and join forces with parents and students to give voice to concerns that resonate in the communities that support our schools.
One of those moments occurred at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School on W. 102nd St. on February 1 at a forum, “More Than a Score: Talking Back to Testing,” sponsored jointly by MORE, Teachers Unite, Change the Stakes and the NYC Student Union. More than 150 parents, teachers, administrators and students came together to demonstrate what we all “know” but sometimes doubt. We found that there really is in New York City a coalition of informed, energetic and motivated activists who can work together to take advantage of the cracks now opening up in the political and social environment to push through a “people’s school reform” movement that will restore sanity, balance and intelligence to the day-to-day operation of the schools where we work and where our students learn.
By James Eterno
Teacher/Chapter leader: Jamaica High School
Our monthly report from the UFT Delegate Assembly
This resolution was raised by MORE and passed without opposition by the UFT Delegate Assembly on 2/5/14.
We stand in SOLIDARITY with our brother and sister educators in Portland, Oregon!
By Kit Wainer
Chapter Leader, Leon M. Goldstein High School
In part 1 we explored the ways in which UFT contracts have riveted the attention of union members toward their union and toward their contract. In 1995, for the first time in the union’s history, the membership voted down a contract package that UFT leaders had negotiated. Although the union was able to get a new version of the contract approved in the spring with a few minor improvements, I argued that the Unity Caucus leaders recognized that they would have to be much more active in selling any future contract, especially one with concessions. In this segment we examine the lessons of the 2005 contract – a deal which devastated members’ working conditions and rights on the job like no contract before or since. I hope that activists interested in defending our contractual rights will join MORE and help us build a movement for democratic, rank and file unionism. That way, in the future, we’ll be able to learn from past union victories rather than defeats.
I probably knew the 2005 contract would pass from the beginning but the
struggle against it seemed very promising. In the spring of 2005 we had been without a contract for 1.5 years. UFT President Randi Weingarten seemed to feel some heat to launch something resembling a fight. Teachers for a Just contract and the Independent Community of Educators, the two main opposition caucuses within the union, had won the high school seats on the UFT Executive Board the previous year and both groups were calling on the union to fight the Bloomberg administration to win us a good contract. One of TJC’s members on the UFT Executive Board proposed that the UFT should set a strike deadline for November 2005 which would have coincided with election day when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was seeking a second term. Rejecting what UFT Secretary Michael Mendel called the “worst proposal ever made to the Executive Board” the UFT nevertheless began to mobilize that spring. It encouraged chapter leaders to hold rallies outside of schools, and even highlighted those chapters that held “honor pickets”
(pickets before school at which all members walk into school as a group just one minute before the beginning of the work day), even though the honor pickets were organized by opposition chapter leaders. Every district and borough held rallies and there was a city- wide rally at Madison Square Garden in June. At one DA Randi boasted that in all the UFT organized more than 6000 actions, and her number may have been correct.
When we returned to school in September 2005, however, the only action asked of us was that we sign a postcard to Bloomberg demanding that he bargain in good faith. The UFT had asked the Public Employees Relations Board for a declaration of impasse more than a year earlier. Impasse triggered the creation of a fact-finding panel whose report came out in September 2005. The Fact-finders recommended a further extension of the work day, the creation of the 37.5 minute tutoring block, the elimination of the right to grieve letters in the file, the elimination of the right to transfer between schools based on seniority, the right of principals to decide which excessed teachers they will hire (from which the ATR crisis was born) and on and on. That month, against the objections of
ICE and TJC delegates, the Delegate Assembly accepted Unity’s proposal to accept the Fact-finders’ report as the basis for contract negotiations. By October the city and the UFT had agreed to a deal along the lines of the Fact-finders’ report. Unlike the 1995 deal, the 2005 agreement included raises, pro-rata pay increases to compensate for the
longer work day, and full retroactive pay. Members were being offered substantial pay hikes and retroactive checks that, for some, would approach $10,000.
But there was great anger. Roughly 200 protesters showed up outside the Delegate Assembly, even though no group had prioritized building the protest. Weingarten moved the Delegate Assembly to the Brooklyn Marriott so that it could pack the room with retirees and union staff. Nearly 2000 delegates attended. Randi spoke for an hour to provide “context” for the contract. Then Elementary School VP Michelle Bodden spoke for ten minutes to argue for ratification. Weingarten asked speakers in favor of the deal to line up on one side and those against to line up on the other side.
The first speaker “against” was actually a speaker in favor of the contract. She said she had a bad knee and couldn’t walk over to the “for” line. Randi let her speak nonetheless and then called on another speaker “for.” I was the fourth speaker and the first one to oppose the contract. I spoke for 7-8 minutes. My strategy was to ignore most of the justifications Randi and Bodden had just made and address the issues I knew members were talking about. After me, only two others were allowed to speak “against” before District Representative Marty Plotkin called the question. On the first vote the delegates overwhelmingly approved the deal. Then Randi, responding to shouts from the audience, asked for a vote of only active members (non-retirees). This time the vote was roughly 60-40 in favor, not a good showing for the leadership at a meeting it controlled.
Dozens of people approached me at the DA, took “vote no” leaflets to distribute to their schools, and filled out TJC coupons to get on our mailing list. We held an open meeting about a week later at which several ICE members, one New Action/UFT member, and a few dozen independents showed up. The meeting decided to organize a picket outside UFT headquarters before the membership ratification vote. I believed at the time, and still believe, that was a mistake. The priority should have been literature distribution in the schools, doing everything possible to reach out to new people who were angry about the proposed contract but had not been involved in union issues before. Those kinds of people were not the types who would show up at a rally. But the rally idea prevailed and we held one in November. About 175 people came out.
Meanwhile Unity stuffed mailboxes around the city with literature claiming the proposed contract didn’t actually mean what it said. They said that by giving up the right to transfer more teachers would have the right to transfer. They said giving up the right to grieve letters in the file was insignificant because we never won those grievances anyway. They said the new C6 assignments would always be professional activities controlled by members. At a high school chapter leaders’ meeting one District Representative said that no students would actually show up for 37.5 minutes, that this was something that would only hurt elementary school teachers.
My sense (and I admit that I can’t prove it) was that in schools where there were oppositionists (TJC, ICE, or unaffiliated) who distributed “vote no” leaflets we convinced the membership. But in the majority of schools only Unity’s deceptive literature was seen.
In late 2005 the membership ratified the contract by a 63-37 margin. Among teachers the vote was 60-40. However, the anger over the deal was significant, even among those who voted “yes.” Both TJC and ICE gained many new contacts around the city and the momentum pushed us a little closer together. We ran a join slate in the 2007 UFT elections.
Unfortunately, I think the lesson Unity learned from this was that the mobilizations it authorized in spring 2005 raised membership expectations and made the contract a tougher sell. After that the UFT called for far fewer rallies. The union, for example, has done nothing comparable in recent years even though we have been without a contract for more than four years.
My take-‐away is that there are opportunities that come and go and are somewhat beyond our control. No one has yet shown a way to manufacture the kind of activism and engagement that the 1995 and 2005 contracts stirred up. Nor has anyone come up with a strategy to prevent that enthusiasm from fading after the contract is settled. I believe our task is to figure out how to be ready to seize opportunities when they arise and hold on to as many new activists as possible after the opportunities recede. There is no clear road map for doing this. The best we can do is learn from past experiences and try to apply those lessons to future opportunities, recognizing that the specifics of each case will be different. Activists who want to see a stronger union, one that will mobilize a larger struggle for a good contract, should join MORE so we can continue this struggle together.
By Kit Wainer
Chapter Leader, Leon M. Goldstein H.S.
In the 25 years I’ve been a UFT activist I’ve lived through many. I’ve learned some lessons from these struggles that I thought might be useful to share as we head into another contract period. From 1993-2012 I was a member of Teachers for a Just Contract. From 2012 to the present I have been a member of MORE.
1. Every contract announcement focuses members’ attention on the contract and on the UFT. Continue Reading…
MORE Member Harry Lirtzman, former high school special education math teacher and former deputy state comptroller, speaks out about the bloated and wasteful DOE budget on Schoolbook.org, in a followup to his piece for MORE on the UFT contract negotiations.
The VNSNY nurses’ contract expires on January 31st, and they are amidst negotiations. Visiting Nurse Service of NY is a private, non-profit organization that provides home healthcare to New Yorkers. The organization is demanding that their nurses begin to pay into their healthcare, and puts an end to the current pension system for new hires, while not even offering a cost of living adjustment. VNSNY already laid off over 550 workers in October. According to VNSNY nurses, the UFT is taking a strong and necessary stance against the givebacks that VNSNY demands, and have stated that UFT VNSNY workers will not work a day without a new contract.
Attacks on the working conditions of nurses have a direct and harmful impact on the care that patients receive. As teachers, whose working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, we know that attacks on our union and our working conditions do not only affect us. Like the attacks on teachers and public schools, assaults on the working conditions of healthcare provides are assaults on our communities and our right to good quality public services.
This is why MORE supports our VNSNY Union brothers and sisters and stands with them to demand they receive a fair contract for the honorable work they do day in and day out.
In the event of the strike, picket lines will be set up at the VNS offices located in each borough – please come to show support to our fellow UFTers.
by Patrick Walsh, Chapter Leader, PS/ MS 149, Harlem
For the second time in weeks the American public has been presented with an ad attacking The United Federation of Teachers, OUR union. The first attack appeared in a full page ad in the New York Times and, the second on nothing less than a billboard in Times Square. Both ads were created by the same ersatz organization — The Center For Union Facts which is, in fact, a public relations firm — and both traffic the same lies and distortions: that AFT president Randi Weingarten “protects bad teachers “ and “ opposes reforms that would improve our kids’ education.”
- Testimonials from those pushed out and shut out
- An update on Gulino vs BOE (lawsuit against the NYS LAST exam)
- What we can do now
By James Eterno
Chapter Leader Jamaica High School
Our monthly UFT Delegate Assembly Report
by Jia Lee for MORE
UFT Chapter Leader of The Earth school
Recently, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, surprised many a disillusioned public school teacher with her new mantra: “Vam is a Sham”. This is a major shift from her previous agreement and collaboration with Race to the Top policy enforcers. She admits that she has always been leery of value-added “but we rolled up our sleeves, acted in good faith and tried to make it work.” Now, she’s disillusioned. Welcome to the world we have been living in since this all started. We now wait for a public statement by UFT leaders.
Whatever the reason, educators, parents and students welcome this realization and acknowledgement that the use of faulty metrics to measure the value of students, teachers and schools has dangerous consequences. One of the very reasons why the grassroots union caucus, Movement of Rank and File Educators, formed last year is due to the acknowledgement by educators in the ranks who already read the warning signs.
With this welcomed change of heart and, now, staunch campaign against the use of value added measures, we are aware that this could affect contract negotiations in local districts, and the union also plans to lobby the Education Department. We are also rightfully cautious, yet hopeful, that we will not be faced with the patterns of our past. With an entire generation of new teachers, many of whom were not a part of the previous contract negotiations, will we be facing concessions to our working conditions? Will we be told to continue waiting for the curriculum or improved standardized state tests that align undemocratically set Common Core Standards?
We are certain that the grassroots efforts of groups such as MORE, as well as with the movement of parents in New York City who have risen against the over reliance on test scores, have contributed to Randi’s public change of heart. We will be here to provide our experiences and support in efforts to ensure that our teaching conditions positively impact our students’ learning conditions. MORE has generated alliances with parents and students who have felt the consequences of a leadership that had, for far too long, ignored the truth about high stakes testing and the faulty metrics of value added measures.
Last year, MORE published as part of its election platform;
“Testing has narrowed the curriculum our students are being offered. Quality teaching and education is developmentally appropriate and responsive to diverse student needs and abilities. A systemic obsession with quantitative data has increased teachers’ paperwork and stripped them of their professional discretion”.
Our leadership took longer to come to this realization:
Here’s a brief glimpse of AFT leadership attitudes and alliances past and present.
In November of 2009, Randi issued this statement of support in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s press release, “Foundation Commits $335 Million to Promote Effective Teaching and Raise Student Achievement” : “This process has been a thoughtful, deliberative, collaborative way to understand—and then design and implement—systems that improve teaching and learning. These districts, working with their unions and parents, were willing to think out of the box, and were awarded millions of dollars to create transparent, fair, and sustainable teacher effectiveness models.”
The National Education Association president, Dennis Van Roekel, also issued a statement, “Collaboration and multilevel integration are important when it comes to transforming the teaching profession…These grants will go far in providing resources to help raise student achievement and improve teacher effectiveness. Our local NEA affiliates are working daily to help improve the practice of teaching.”
Our national teacher union leaders taking funds to collaborate with problematic policies that have no reliable evidence for raising student achievement and improving teacher effectiveness, back in 2009, is what started the most vocal of educators, researchers, policy analysts and even psychometricians grumbling. By August 27, 2010, the Economic Policy Institute published an open letter, Problems with Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.
Just a little less than a year ago, Randi collaborated with Vicki Philips of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to author this article Six Steps to Effective Teacher Development and Evaluation (March 25, 2013) (Note that the article states: “Sponsored content by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and American Federation of Teachers.”) Under the subsection: “Include evidence of teaching and student learning from multiple sources”, they write:
“The Gates Foundation’s MET project (much but not all of which the AFT agrees with) has found that combining a range of measures—not placing inordinate weight on standardized test scores—yields the greatest reliability and predictive power of a teacher’s gains with other students. And the AFT and its affiliates are exploring ways to accurately determine what measures best serve as a proxy for our work.” Still showing outward public collaboration with the Gates Foundation, funder of ill-conceived high stakes testing and teacher evaluation policies, continued to prompt parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and by this time, the punitive practices imbued by these policies have sent invaluable educators leaving the profession or fighting for MORE.
Then, on January 10, 2014, Randi posted in the Huffington Post “Teaching and Learning Over Testing” alone and not associated with the Gates Foundation. She states that the AFT has long known that VAM is unreliable and that they have always questioned the use of test scores to evaluate teachers. The UFT’s own high stakes testing task force in 2007 came to the same conclusion. This is contrary to the earlier co sponsored written articles, but what matters is the shift that has happened.
While MORE stands in solidarity with our union president’s newly discovered position, we can not forget that she has helped negotiate contracts which include the flawed use of test scores to determine a “teacher’s effectiveness” in districts around the country. This was against the wishes of her own rank and file and the advice of educational experts. She can not undo the damage that has already been done by her support of test based measures. In addition, Randi continues to relentlessly advocate for Common Core, while the standards are unproven, not field tested, were not created by with the input of public school teachers and parents, and have caused even more reliance on high stakes testing.
Will Michael Mulgrew admit to the truth and take back what he said just a year ago at a delegate assembly?- That the growth model (VAM) they were creating for the local measures of student learning component was a fair and excellent way to evaluate teachers because “In any class…you ought to be able to move kids from point A, wherever they began, to point B, someplace that showed some progress.”
At the November UFT Delegate Assembly, a MORE delegate made the argument that the current teacher evaluation system “Advance” is unviable, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew scowled. If Randi can have a change of heart… say it with us, Michael Mulgrew, “VAM IS A SHAM”.
by Harris Lirtzman, former deputy New York State comptroller from 2003 to 2007 and also a New York City special education teacher who was fired for blowing the whistle in 2011.
Last fall, soon-to-be ex-mayor Bloomberg issued his “Financial Plan, FY 2013-2017” as required by State law but also as a parting gift for the new mayor, hoping to lock him or her into a set of budget parameters for upcoming labor negotiations that would continue Bloomberg’s war on teachers. But his plan may have backfired because when it’s closely reviewed, together with other budget reports issued last month by former City Comptroller John Liu and the City’s Independent Budget Office, it looks like there may be room for mayor-elect de Blasio to negotiate a contract with the UFT in good faith.
Despite Bloomberg’s repeated assertions of doom-and-gloom about the City’s financial situation after he leaves, his own plan indicates that there are likely to be more revenues over the next few years for labor contracts than Bloomberg would like to admit:
- Wall Street profits were $23.9 billion in FY 2013 and are projected to be $13.4 billion in FY 2014 and stocks are at record levels. Continue Reading…
- Mayor DeBlasio negotiate full retroactive raises for all city workers and grant raises in line with the increased cost of living in New York City.
- The Municipal Labor Committee, the coalition of unions representing municipal workers, take a unified position and make these demands to Mayor DeBlasio during negotiation
Please take action now by:
1. Sign and share the online petition here
2. Print the paper petition out and gather signatures at your workplace here
3. Like our FaceBook page and spread the word to your friends
As you begin contract negotiations with the new de Blasio administration, the undersigned implore you to mobilize the full power of a united NYC public sector work force to put forward a powerful message. After years of effective pay cuts, we expect and deserve not just a new contract, but one with retroactive wage increases and no givebacks.
NYC municipal workers have been working under worse conditions and for less pay than at any time since the recession of the 1970s.
Still, each and every day, we keep the city running. The deadly Superstorm Sandy showed the world, once again, the heroism of our nurses, firefighters, sanitation, transit, and other city workers, who saved the stranded and worked tirelessly to get the city back on its feet.
Why, then, are we losing ground? Mayor Bloomberg has refused to negotiate new contracts for municipal employees. With the cost of living on the rise, the net effect has been an across the board wage cut. We are among the nearly half of New Yorkers — 49 percent — who are paying rents that federal benchmarks consider unaffordable. Basic necessities increase as well.
Not all New Yorkers have had to make such sacrifices. Since the massive financial crisis in 2008, and subsequent multi-trillion dollar federal bailout, Wall Street has made billions in profits – $24 billion in 2012 alone. Likewise, New York’s real estate industry continues to boom, greased with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks.
To put it plainly, public sector and working-class New Yorkers have been subsidizing the billion dollar profits of Wall Street and the real estate industry with their tax money.
We are the teachers who put in extra hours helping kids learn. We are the health care and social workers taking care of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. We keep the garbage off the streets, we take people to work and to school, and we respond to every emergency. We earn what we receive, unlike the billionaires who treat our city budget like their personal ATM.
The city CAN afford retroactive pay for city workers and not cut back on other services. The city has run budget surpluses of over a billion dollars for over half of the last 8 years, even after factoring in the estimated $3 billion in tax breaks businesses receive every year. Small increases to taxes on high-end real estate, financial transactions, and other taxes on New York’s 1% could turn the pending municipal crisis around.
The fate of New York City’s municipal workers is of critical importance for all New Yorkers. Underpaid and unemployed workers need subsidies to survive. As our standard of living decreases, it strains the economy, hurts our families, and makes it harder to do our jobs. If we fight for a just contract, and stand in solidarity with other important campaigns, like the low-wage workers who are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, then a rising tide can raise all boats.
New York City today is a tale of two cities. If mayor-elect de Blasio genuinely wants to tackle income inequality, we urge him to start at the bargaining table with city workers.
Fairness, and good economic sense, demand full retroactive pay raises and full cost of living adjustments for all New York City municipal workers.
Movement of Rank and File Educators- The Social Justice Caucus of The United Federation of Teachers
We have worked more than four years under an expired contract. We deserve more!
The Movement of Rank and File Educators believes we should not accept any contract that fails to win the following:
1. Full retroactive pay: We have lived through four years of a wage freeze. Yet our bills, living costs, and transportation have not been frozen. If we agree to a contract now that doesn’t give us full retroactivity we are inviting the city to simply stall all future negotiations in order to impose a de facto wage freeze on us again and again.
2. Clear, enforceable language for reduction of paperwork: The new evaluation scheme, with its artifact collection and the scrutiny of lesson plans, has brought with it enormous paperwork burdens. The current contractual language for paperwork reduction (Article 8I) is toothless, while our right to control lesson plan format (8J) has become difficult to enforce.
3. Revision of the teacher evaluation plan to fix:
- The Measures of Student Learning that inappropriately rate teachers on work outside of their own subject area and classes.
- The use of the Danielson Framework, a one-size-fits-all rigid teaching prescription that takes away all teacher autonomy.
- The problematic use of high stakes tests in teachers’ evaluations. As the UFT’s 2007 task force said, “The American Education Research Association has stated that tests are always fallible and should never be used as high stakes instruments.”
4. Pattern Bargaining: In 2008 most municipal union workers received 4% raises; UFT members have yet to receive anything. Pattern bargaining has been the traditional method for deciding raises for many years, we can not allow the city to deviate from this, because it will set a precedent that will allow them to negotiate no raises for UFT in coming years. This process has kept our unions strong and working together for many years, not receiving the same raise as the other city workers would threaten the very being of the labor movement in NYC.
5. Increased Wages: The city will argue they cannot afford to pay us the retroactive wages we deserve and increase our salary. The data says otherwise: Since 2005, the city has had annual budget surpluses ranging from $2 billion to well over $4 billion. Mayor Bloomberg’s 2014 Executive Budget states that Wall Street profits rose to $23.9 billion in 2012, (third highest on record) and will be $13.4 billion in 2013, tax revenue continues to increase. Let’s not forget the city continues to waste money; The Office of the New York State Comptroller issued an audit examining the DOE’s $342 million in non-competitive contracts. In 2013 the cost of the networks that’s schools belong to was at least $76.6 million. Millions of dollars are wastefully spent on educational consultants, test prep companies, Common Core/Danielson implementation, and on other failed projects such as ARIS and CityTime. We live in the most expensive city in the world and it’s time to give UFT members the raises we deserve!
Dictionary definition of debate:
To discuss a question by considering opposed arguments.
UFT Delegate Assemblies are awash in a sea of undemocratic procedures. One of the most egregious has been the abuse of the rules that govern debate. The leadership and its UNITY Caucus supporters have 100 minutes to present their case plus a 10-minute question period, with the President’s report taking up a good chunk of the time. Alternate voices have a 10 minute “new motion” period. But even those 10 minutes are encroached upon when the leadership uses the pretense of presenting its own “new” motions despite the fact they have the power to add them to the regular agenda. But they go even further by restricting or shutting down debate.
President Mulgrew is violating Robert’s Rules of Order overtly when he calls exclusively on supporters of motions. His argument that he doesn’t know where people stand when he calls on them holds little water given that most of the speakers are members of his own Unity Caucus and are often, in fact, UFT officials on the UFT payroll. His job as president is to alternate between those who are in favor and those who are against a motion. Therefore, after a Unity person motivates a motion, Mulgrew’s obligation is to call on someone opposed as long as someone rises and demands the floor at the same time as a friend of a motion. The Rules call, for not just one speaker on the other side, but half of them in every debate.
Delegates have seen this basic principle of democratic debate routinely ignored, often with only a one-sided point of view being aired. There can be no “union” without a democratic union. In the interests of having a democratic union that follows the rule of law and welcomes vigorous, open debate, we urge all union members to support a movement for a more democratic union. Let us begin this movement at the Delegate Assembly.
Question for UFT’s leadership at the Delegate Assembly:
Randi Weingarten recently wrote in an article titled “Time to End Failed Policies of NCLB & RTTT.” Will the UFT refuse to sign on to any renewals of RTTT in NYC?
Now that we passed a resolution to end high stakes associated with Common Core tests, what is our political follow up?
Are there plans for childcare at DA meetings?
Join us at the next MORE Meeting
Jan. 18th, 2014, 12pm-3pm
The Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Our Fliers for the 12/11 DA
MORE is proud to endorse the call by our friends and allies in ICOPE, BYNEE and MANY for a chancellor who has a progressive vision for New York City schools and for a open and democratic process for their selection that includes the voices of parents, teachers and students.
Please see full and detailed text of the two calls below
by Megan Moskop
M.S. 324 Patria Mirabal, Washington Heights
On Wednesday, November 20th, the MORE caucus brought our Resolution for an End to the New Evaluation System (Advance) to the UFT’s Delegate Assembly. I came to the meeting prepared to present our resolution and ask that it be placed on the agenda for our December meeting. Below are the words I prepared to motivate our resolution if called upon. Stay tuned for my personal account of what happened at the meeting.
In our last Delegate Assembly, President Mulgrew asserted that “We are losing teachers at a faster rate than ever before. The evaluation system is exacerbating the problem.” For this reason, and many others, we know that Advance is detrimental to our profession. Our fellow teachers wouldn’t quit at such alarming rates if we as the governing body of their Union show them we’re fighting for them, by REALLY FIGHTING this evaluation system.
As a union of educational leaders, as elected delegates to the largest AFT local, we can’t just make concessions and tweaks to a broken system that fuels what we’ve termed (in the agenda’s resolution 1) “a destructive testing mania.” Resolutions 1, 2, and 3, already on today’s agenda [to ban standardized testing in grades K-2, to create more options for local measures within advance, and to protect lesson planning freedom] are a step in the right direction, but they are not enough.
We must completely denounce the bureaucratic mess that is “Advance.” It undermines our professional judgement, jeopardizes our academic freedom, rejects our expertise, and eliminates our classroom autonomy. Furthermore, it pushes our schools to spend precious time on paperwork, and takes focus away from our essential responsibility to educate the next generation of citizens.
Our leadership has been calling for new curriculum and more support. Since we are good educators, we deeply value GOOD curriculum and GOOD professional support. Right now, however, those things are NOT what we need. We don’t need new systems that are hastily shoved into our hands. What we NEED is a good system within which to work and grow. We deserve a system that enhances our work instead of undermining it.
For-profit interests, who, unlike us, did play a role in creating Advance, often paint teachers as a problem to be fixed. We are not a problem, and as long as we go along with this broken, demoralizing system, we implicitly agree that teachers, not poverty, not inequality of resources, not failing systems, not inept bureaucracies, that TEACHERS are the problem to be fixed in our education system.
We must stand together in opposition to this system of evaluation, which reinforces the corporate-fueled notion that our teaching, and our CHILDREN are standardized products to be quantified and measured.
Unlike corporate education deformers, this delegate assembly was never given input into the creation of Advance, so now, before it is too late, we must give our input by rejecting it vehemently along with the dozens of chapters and over 1,000 individuals who have signed this petition.
On behalf of our colleagues and our communities, it our OUR JOB to fully reject “Advance” and push for the creation of a collaboratively created evaluation system that demonstrates respect for our skill and our judgement as educators.
It is not enough for us to whine about waiting for curriculum and to ask for minor adjustments to a system that is fundamentally flawed because it rests on the assumption that bad teaching is the problem in the American education system.
Therefore, I call on the delegate assembly to (reading from resolution) resolve that the UFT should mobilize teachers, parents and students towards a repeal of the Education Law 3012c and the new evaluation scheme.
[Chapter Leaders, Delegates, and Rank and Filers - Please support this resolution by helping to distribute it before the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday - 4:15, 52 Broadway - and raising it during the motions period. If you can help making copies of it let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org]
Resolution for an End to the New Evaluation System
WHEREAS, the new evaluation system based on NYS Education Law 3012c disproportionately weights the use of high stakes test scores over qualitative assessments as “Measures of Student Learning (MOSL)” in determining teacher performance, leading to a proliferation of Common Core-aligned tests with devastating consequences for teaching and learning conditions in our schools, and
One exciting and quick way to support MORE’s work is by asking your school’s UFT chapter to vote on endorsing our petition for a moratorium on the new “Advance” teacher evaluation system.
We’re all fed up with “Advance,” and all the teachers I’ve talked to wish the UFT was doing more to oppose this system and stand up for a better one. My chapter was so excited to hear about this way of pushing the UFT to act that they suggested voting to endorsing this petition right after I showed it to them in our union meeting.
I wanted to make sure everyone had time to read up and consider their options before a vote though, so I sent them an informational e-mail, and we scheduled a secret-ballot vote for the next week. Teachers cast simple paper ballots, they were counted by an impartial committee, and then my chapter leader and I composed a letter like the one below.
It only took about 30 minutes, and my chapter is excited about their involvement in our fight to build a stronger union and a better evaluation system.
You can also take a vote to endorse at your next chapter meeting.
We will present the petitions and chapter endorsements at the November 20th delegate assembly, when we raise a resolution calling for a full repeal of this flawed evaluation scheme that was imposed on us.
Let us know your chapter endorsed our petition by emailing us at email@example.com
submitted by Megan Moskop- Teacher/ UFT Delegate at M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal
By Andrea Fonseca
I am a teacher at Castle Bridge School, a dual-language, inclusive, progressive school that opened in Washington Heights in September 2012. Because this is only our second year we have students in grades pre-K to 2, and none of our students take the state-mandated tests for grades 3–8.
With the new teacher evaluation system that uses children’s test scores as part of teachers’ “ratings,” the DOE faced a challenge: How would it use its new system for K–2 teachers in schools without testing grades? The answer: a multiple-choice math test for kindergartners, first-graders, and second-graders in those schools.
The tests were delivered to those schools and in most they were also administered to children without their parents even knowing about it. A colleague and friend working at one of these schools told me how awful the experience was and how confused her kindergartners were.
90% of families at Castlebridge Elementary School in Washington Heights have opted out of K-2 exams imposed by the new eval system. Because the school does not have a third grade the state has mandated that students take a “performance assessment” in order to determine growth scores for teachers. The bubble test, produced by private contractor “Discovery Education,” would have been given only in English to a dual language population.
“I was irate. I was very angry,” Vera Moore, mother of second-grader Yvene Mackey, 7, and kindergartner Zalyair Mackey, 5. told the Daily News, “This school teaches to the child not to the test.”
Below we republish a letter by parent Don Lash expressing his frustration to elected officials about the situation:
Dear Assemblymember Nolan and Senator Flanagan:
I am contacting you because I am the parent of a first grade student who is expected to take a multiple choice standardized test as a result of a policy directive from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) that students from Kindergarten to 2nd grade be tested using an exam mandated by NYSED. The test is not intended to reveal any information that would be used to improve instruction to my child, but would be used solely to evaluate her teachers.
NYS Allies for Public Education, a state-wide coalition representing over 40 organizations, continues to call for Commissioner John King’s resignation despite newly scheduled “small forums”. The canceling of last week’s series of PTA Town Hall meetings is only one indicator of King’s inability to give all stakeholders a public avenue to voice their concerns. Only after fierce pressure and calls for his resignation from parents did Commissioner King agree to schedule these “small forums”, and NYSAPE is concerned that the revised format will not give parents adequate opportunity to express their concerns.
John King’s recent behavior is part of a continuing pattern of disregard for the voices of parents, teachers, principals, superintendents and other concerned citizens. Commissioner King has demonstrated time and again that despite the serious concerns raised by parents and educators, he plans to adhere to a hasty plan of action that harms children.
There they go again.
The newspapers are filling their pages with stories about “bad teachers”. The mayor is on the airwaves complaining about the UFT and City Hall is suing the Union.
It’s all part of this mayoral administration’s continued push to transform the profession of teaching into an ‘at-will’ job, so that it can fire as many of us as it would like.
They would all like everyone to believe (including our new soon-to be mayor) that this system is just filled-to-the-brim with bad teachers who are harming kids and holding back our students from achieving true success.
As their hope goes, if they can just convince New Yorkers that this is actually true -if they could somehow get the voting public to focus and concentrate only on the 1.9% of city teachers who have faced termination hearings- then maybe, just maybe, they would be able to institute sweeping reforms that would affect all city teachers -including the other 98.1% who have not faced hearings- and end an important right for city teachers. That is the right to be fired through the impartial ruling of an independent hearing officer, rather than by the whims of an education department whose headquarters has been bereft of actual educators for well over a decade.
It’s the same tired old song playing all over again. They drag a few of our colleagues out on the pages of the newspapers and offer no facts (other than the facts which the administration wishes the newspapers to print) about their actual “infractions”. They hold these people up as an example of our “terrible” job protections and hope that the public begins disliking their teachers as much as they dislike their politicians.
If some semblance of public concern grows over this issue, they’ll march themselves up to Albany and ask the legislature to change the law that has, for many decades now, dictated how teachers are fired. The NYS Senate may well vote yes (because the Mayor has donated millions to the campaigns coffers of the Republicans who control that house) and they will all complain when the Assembly votes no.
We at MORE have heard this song before and we are aware that it’s just a little too “out of tune” to be truthful – we know just where the sour notes are coming from. We’d like you to consider a few facts as you read the salacious newspaper articles over the next few weeks and do what you can do to make sure that concerned people in your building are aware of them too: