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For a Democratic Discussion and Vote in the UFT on the New Evaluation System

A controversial new teacher evaluation system is under negotiation that will include the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.

One expression of the controversy is that one out of every three principals in New York State has gone on record opposing the state law that provided the framework for the negotiations.

Once negotiated, the new system will be the largest change to our working lives in years, greater than the changes in many union contracts.  Yet, there are no plans for a ratification vote by the membership.

Therefore, we request a membership-wide referendum on whether to accept the new evaluation system once it is negotiated with the city, after a broad and democratic discussion about the new system within our union.

Download and circulate this petition.

Why should you sign the petition to have a vote on new teacher evaluation scheme?

Every educator deserves a fair evaluation as a basic part of our working conditions.

The new evaluation framework was agreed to by our union and enacted in state law in February, in an unfortunate accommodation to the Federal Race to the Top legislation.  Our union must negotiate the final details of this system with the Department of Education by January 17, 2013.

Some elements already negotiated are unprecedented and the repercussions may worsen our working conditions and weaken our job protections.

  • The framework bases between 25 and 40 percent of evaluations on standardized testing results. Growth and Value-Added models based on tests are unstable metrics that have been shown to vary wildly. Yet these results will be released to parents.
  • After two consecutive ineffective ratings, the school district will use these ratings in an expedited arbitration procedure to terminate teachers.
  • The philosophy behind these tests is that teachers are the only factor to be held responsible for student performance, ignoring socio-economic realities, special needs, institutional racism, restrictive curriculum and school-level and city-wide administrative mismanagement. Teachers working with students disproportionately affected by these factors will be punished for their commitment.
  • This evaluation system will impact our fellow teachers very differently, depending on whether their students take standardized tests. Such disparate treatment will be divisive and unfair.
  • This system necessitates the growth and expansion of standardized tests into more subject areas and grades to provide more data for evaluations, further narrowing the curriculum and alienating students.

This petition demands broad and democratic discussion about the new evaluation system which would include that (1) our union immediately poll the membership with regard to the new measures agreed upon by our leadership (2) provide more frequent updates on the negotiations, (3) host forums at chapter, borough and city-wide levels where members can discuss this new system, and (4) open the New York Teacher newspaper and the Edwize blog to alternative viewpoints and information.

Secondly, we demand  that our union hold a membership-wide referendum on whether to accept the new evaluation system once it is negotiated with the city, conducted in the same manner as contract approval votes.

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