For Immediate Release
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Contact: Julie Cavanagh – 917-836-6465
UFT Race to the Top Agreement: A Terrible Mistake
The UFT has agreed to sign onto NYC’s RTTT application, adding as many as 100 schools to the city’s three-year-old "Innovation Zone" and expanding online learning and instruction among other technology-based techniques. This agreement is a terrible mistake, selling out teachers and kids. This agreement was made despite the fact that there is no research to show that the millions of dollars currently being spent on online learning in the 250 schools already in NYC’s Izone have worked to improve schools, or help students learn. According to Gotham Schools, the UFT leadership’s Mendel said, "the union wanted to facilitate efforts to boost student achievement, even if it’s not clear whether the efforts will ultimately pay off," and, "that we should be experimenting with different things. If they don’t work, shut it down. If they do work, then expand them."
MORE caucus does not believe in this time of devastating cuts to our schools allocating millions of dollars to experiment on other people’s children is what is best for our schools or the students we serve. According to Julie Cavanagh, MORE caucus UFT presidential candidate, "There is no evidence to support online learning anywhere else in the country. Putting kids on computers does not "personalize" learning; it does the opposite. This RTTT application, which the UFT has agreed to, would allocate funding to support the creation of as many of a dozen new schools built on the basis of online learning; which would ultimately likely help the DOE in closing down existing schools rather than improving them, in the process causing more chaos, disruption and "churn" and excessing more teachers."
This agreement also obligates the UFT to adopt a teacher evaluation system tied to test scores by 2014-2015, which many experts have stated and highly flawed TDRs revealed, is highly volatile, unreliable and unfair. "Before the UFT negotiates any new teacher evaluation system with the city, they should require that the teacher growth scores already completed by the state, that do not take class size or demographic background of students into account, be revealed to individual teachers and are proven to be valid. MORE caucus is also calling for a democratic membership vote to adopt any potential evaluation system before an agreement is made," said Peter Lamphere, MORE member.
MORE caucus believes the UFT leadership should insist on progress for reducing class size, the top priority of parents and the ONLY way to truly personalize learning or differentiate instruction instead of agreeing to misguided and destructive policies poorly disguised as potentially beneficial experiments on our children. Class sizes have risen five years in a row, with the union leadership doing little or nothing to stop it.