Archives For NYC Teacher Evaluations

by Alexandra Alves, Chapter Leader, PS 2M

[To speak up about evaluation demands in our upcoming contract, please join MORE at our contract forum on Wednesday, March 14th, 4:30-6:30pm @ CUNY Graduate Center. RSVP / Details here]

Do you dread the Danielson based drive-by observation and the inevitable feedback session and rating, which happens not only once or twice, but several times a year, even though you have consistently received effective and highly effective ratings throughout your career?

Do you feel as if you have lost all pedagogical control over what you teach and how you teach it?

Do you feel utterly devalued as an educator and a professional and thrown up your hands in despair, because nothing you do is quite good enough?

Have you experienced a significant increase in your workplace stress level, lack of sleep and even health related issues, all stemming from a punitive evaluation system which has demoralized you and stripped you of any sense of empowerment and self worth as a professional and educator?

If so, you are not alone. The upcoming contract negotiations has educators all over the city wondering if the UFT leadership realizes just how bad teaching conditions are under the current evaluation system, and whether or not it will make it a priority to demand a lowering of the mandated evaluations to the New York State minimum of two per school year (for starters).

What, exactly, is the problem with the current evaluation system, the union leadership must be wondering, especially if it is in fact true that 97% of NYC teachers receive a highly effective or effective overall ratings? Continue Reading…

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Looking through the UFT’s guide to the new NYC teacher evaluation system, I find myself wondering how it’s being read by educators coming from schools that vary widely in terms of educator autonomy, pedagogical philosophy and levels of trust between administration and staff. We are being told that our evaluation system will require our full comprehension and maintenance of: measures of teacher practice observation option selection forms, evaluator forms, consistent update of class lists/rosters, observation options A, B, C, D, the Matrix, and MOSL options (project based learning assessments, student learning inventories, performance based assessments, and progress monitoring assessments), not to mention how this plays out for what people teach (elementary/middle/high school, alternative assessment, English as a New Language, content areas, etc).

It is easily overwhelming. We are still figuring out the last evaluation system and living through the most rapidly changing succession of teacher evaluations in history. The truth is, we are being led by our tails. There are only two things to know:

1)  We should be upset, very upset. These were closed negotiations that, yet again, involved very little, if any, teacher input in the discussion of a system that is purporting to improve student achievement. It should not be considered normal for dues paying members to be handed a deal without having any democratic process for input. Any active teacher working with students could explain the complexities of the work we do, including factors that are not in our control and which cannot be measured and quantified. This lack of teacher voice leads to the continual and misguided reliance on the use of invalid metrics we know as the value added model.

2) Teacher evaluations based on metrics with any high stakes involvement is all about perpetuating a lean production model that narrows our teaching and students’ learning. The corporate education reform agenda initiated its systematic attack on public schools by casting its teachers as the source of the problem. Our union leadership, in an effort to placate this aggressive attack on our profession, used the only strategy it knows: attempting to throw its weight around the proverbial table. Pandering  to the notion of teacher evaluation based on unfounded formulas of value added models, and doing this without acknowledging the casualties of the systemic attack thus far, is unacceptable.

The 240,000 opt outs across New York State triggered a move towards the current moratorium on the use of state standardized tests, not the negotiating of the UFT leadership as they often like to credit themselves with. The reason ENL teachers are still evaluated using the Common Core aligned NYSESLAT and teachers of students who get alternative assessments are evaluated by that is because there has not been a high percentage of opt outs for those tests.

In regard to the MoTP portion of our evaluation, please read James Eterno’s ICE Blog piece on the matter. We now have two more required observations in our agreement for tenured teachers beyond the two required by state law and practiced in most districts. In a climate of high stakes where many, if not most, of New York City’s teachers experience observations as “gotcha” opportunities for administrators to intimidate and demoralize, the increase does not promote space for continual growth in teaching practice.

It does not matter what MOSL option we choose- it becomes distorted when stakes are attached. Using performance based assessments or any tools we use to drive instruction for our students a huge problem! What kind of metric for teacher value will be attached to our authentic forms of assessment? How will they- those designated to make up the arbitrary percentages- determine the scores and how much value will be added?

As we already know, this evaluation deal has nothing to do with improving outcomes for our students but everything to do with creating a system that breaks us and our union to further the privatization agenda. It is political. This is not just a criticism of our leadership’s practices; this is a proposal to engage rank and file members in the process before it is truly too late.

To the Public School Families and Educators of New York-

I would like to thank the many of you who have gone way out of their way to stand up for our schools, for their children’s educators, and for public education in New York. Governor Cuomo’s attacks have galvanized parents , students, and educators across the state, and have united in us in solidarity to protect our schools. So many of you have volunteered your time, attended rallies, spoken with your friends in person and through social media, signed letters and petitions, contacted elected officials, opted your children out of the state tests, and otherwise demonstrated your resistance to the data-obsessed, privatization-oriented corporate “school reform” agenda typified by Cuomo’s budget proposals.

I must make clear, though, that this is no time to declare victory or let up on the pressure; the budget that passed is a brutal one for public education in NY, different from Cuomo’s original proposals in only minor and cosmetic ways, though the Times and our the deeply compromised UFT leadership suggest otherwise. The funding secured, though it represents an increase, STILL does not satisfy the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The teacher evaluation system, though technically kicked down the road a bit to high stakes testing advocate Meryl Tisch and other like-minded bureaucrats at the State education department, is already pretty well established at this point, and it is everything we feared as far as escalating the testing regime, disempowering and demeaning educators (including principals), and almost certainly exacerbating the looming teacher shortage. Raising the charter cap (some would say the true heart of Cuomo’s proposals because charters are the main interest of his most ardent financial backers, hedge fund managers) has also been delayed for a few months, another fight soon to come. The Assembly Democrats who we thought had our backs threw us under the bus.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t take stock and appreciate how far we have come; we have mobilized in a way that is unprecedented, with staff, parents, and students uniting to stand up for the kids and for public education in solidarity across the state in the face of a concerted divide-and-conquer strategy (now being further utilized to attempt to placate parents in wealthy districts where opt-out rates and other forms of parental resistance are high). But we cannot allow ourselves to think that we have won and sink into complacency; the enemies of public education have struck a significant blow here, and though the changes will not be visible in the halls of our schools immediately, it will not take long before we see the effects, among the most visible of which is likely to be the high teacher turnover which is so harmful to a school, whether caused by getting fired for having the wrong kind of students or simply becoming demoralized by being made scapegoats for society’s ills. If we truly believe that the children and educators of New York are more than a score, this must be only the beginning of our resistance to Cuomo’s depredations.

Sincerely,

Dan Lupkin
Technology Coordinator/UFT Chapter Leader
PS 58, The Carroll School
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

"Does anyone else sense a ghost in the room 2014 UFT contract vote no on the contract for education"
"Does anyone else sense a ghost in the room 2014 UFT contract vote no on the contract for education"

Wanted: Andrew Cuomo

April 1, 2014 — 6 Comments
"Wanted: Andrew Cuomo"

If you see something, say something

moreunion-This list of the main improvements we would like to see in the 2014 NYC teachers’ contract was developed based on democratic discussion and a vote at the 1/18/2014 meeting of the Movement of Rank and File Educators. Join us to continue the discussion!

1. Improved Learning and Working Conditions: Our schools should have lower class sizes, and they should be fully funded and staffed with sufficient support services. Therapists, Guidance Counselors, and Special Educators should have reduced caseloads so our high-needs students get what they need to grow, and educators have enough time during the school day to complete necessary recordkeeping and planning.

2. A Better Evaluation System: Teachers should be part of the team that builds our new evaluation system. It should not be tied to high-stakes standardized test scores. Instead, each school’s staff should play an active role in choosing meaningful, student-friendly assessments that can be used to inform instruction and measure growth. Extra paperwork and quantitative data creation should be eliminated.

3. Competitive Salaries: We deserve full retroactivity and fair raises based on the rising cost-of-living, and to retain teachers. To demonstrate respect for all of our work, there should be a move toward salary equity for all UFT members.

4. Restoration of Due Process and Fairness: All teachers deserve to be treated fairly, thus our contract should restore the right to transfer and to grieve material in our files. Teachers should be considered innocent until proven guilty at 3020a hearings, and the “fair student funding” budget system (that penalizes hiring of experienced teachers) should be reversed. If enacted, these changes will effectively end the ATR crisis.

Please download a flyer-version of these ideas to spark discussion within your UFT chapter or community here! MORE Top 4 Contract Flyer. And, if you’re interested in thinking about an ideal contract in more detail, check out “The Contract NYC’s Educators Deserve” that we shared in an earlier blog post. You can also find more resources under the “Contract” tab above.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

NEW YORK: Over 75 rank and file union members gathered on Thursday (3/7/2014) night to mobilize against

Those rank and file workers have already garnered over 1,000 signatures on a letter demanding that union leaders prioritize retroactive pay.  Furthermore, they urge Mayor de Blasio to stay true to his campaign promise of “ending the tale of two cities,” and ask him to demonstrate his commitment to ending income inequality, starting at the bargaining table.

The forum was organized by the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the ACS Coalition of Union Members, 99 Pickets and rank and file activists from NYSNA, District Council 37, and the Professional Staff Congress.  Members of TWU Local 100, Organization of Staff Analysts, Teamsters Local 237, 1199 SIEU and other city unions were represented in a lively discussion.

“It’s clear that the anger that city workers feel about losing ground for the past five years is starting to find expression,” said Sean Petty, a nurse at the HHC. “The fact is that we’ve given up our free time, we’ve come in during snowstorms, we’ve stayed overnight in hospitals, and we’ve worked overtime to cleanup the city after Superstorm Sandy. That is being repaid with a new mayor who is saying there is not enough money for the raises we deserve. What tonight showed,” he continued, “is that there is a growing unrest among city workers and that we are not going to accept the status quo excuses from the administration.  It’s clear to all of us there is enough money to pay for the things that we all need, whether you are a city worker or depend on city services.”

Anthony Lackhan, a member of Local 1549, DC37 said,“Tonight I learned that there are a lot more of us willing to fight for what we’ve earned. I’m excited that I’m not alone and reinvigorated to find brothers and sisters of like mind.”

“Its okay for us to ask for more right now.  It’s OK for us to demand a strong middle class.  It’s our duty as public sector unions to demand it,” said Marcus McArthur, a city teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

“De Blasio campaigned on a tale of two cities.  Well, here’s the other city coming forward,” said Lucy Herschel, a member of 1199 SEIU. “I don’t think I’ve ever been at a meeting of this many rank and file union members from different unions before,” she added.

“The thing we all have in common as teachers, as city workers, as nurses, is that we all care about the people we serve, and the people in our community care about our services, so we need to work together and really build locally.” said Rosie Frascella, a teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

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The Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers.  For MORE information: https://morecaucusnyc.org/about/