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 is 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.