In the days leading up to the release of ratings for thousands of New York City public-school teachers on Friday, hundreds of e-mails poured into the in-box of Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
“Enough of cooperation,” one member of the union wrote to his leader. Others prodded Mr. Mulgrew to stand up against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, describing him as “untrustworthy,” in what he said was a call to arms of unparalleled intensity.
“How many times do we have to get kicked in the teeth before we realize we can’t work with these people?” John Elfrank-Dana, a union chapter leader at Murry Bergtraum High School in Lower Manhattan, asked during an interview, echoing what many of his fellow teachers have said in recent days on Twitter and on various blogs.
Mr. Mulgrew and his comrades had fought for more than a year to block release of the ratings, known as teacher data reports, which try to calculate how much value individual teachers add by predicting their students’ test scores and then measuring how much they exceed or fall short of those expectations. But the legal defeat a court dealt the union, by green-lighting the release, may yet be a political victory for the union — by galvanizing members and mobilizing allies on the left, including the Occupy movement and Change.org, through which scores of people signed petitions and sent letters to news organizations last week protesting the publication of the ratings.
In New York, the state’s new evaluation system would use similar measures to calculate at least 20 percent of a teacher’s score; it took more than a year of fighting in court and at the negotiating table for state officials and union leaders to agree on the value-added weight. Mr. Cuomo had to intervene, and he ended up drafting Mr. Mulgrew to help bridge the differences between both sides.
When the deal was announced in Albany on Feb. 16, praise for Mr. Cuomo came from all corners, including Mr. Mulgrew and some of the same mayoral hopefuls who are now criticizing the rankings’ release.
Now, amid the controversy of last week, more questions are stirring about the reliability of the new system, which was written into Mr. Cuomo’s budget but still has to be signed into law.
Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the Board of Regents, said publication made it “more complicated to go back and negotiate at the local level,” a requirement for the new system’s adoption statewide. Mr. Mulgrew’s predecessor, Randi Weingarten, who is now president of the American Federation of Teachers, said it “couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
The outcome largely depends on Mr. Mulgrew’s next move. He will have to either figure out a way to justify his support for the new system to the union’s angry membership, or withdraw it.
You know where I stand on this. Indeed, you know where I stood before the union agreed to the new eval system on February 16.
VAM is crap.
The evaluation system the state put into motion is a nightmare, the extent of which will become apparent verym very soon.
Any evaluation system that relies on adding 20+ standardized tests a year to each grade so that students do nothing but either prep for tests or take tests and evaluates teachers using a value-added score derived from those scores with large margins of error and wide swings in variability is damaging to children, teachers and schools.
I criticized Mulgrew last week for fighting the release of the TDR's even as he was supporting the development of a similar eval system for the whole state.
Mulgrew has already admitted he doesn't have confidence that the state VAM for the new eval system is going to be any more reliable than the city VAM.
Now I call for Mulgrew at the UFT and Iannuzzi at the NYSUT to withdraw their support for the new system.
The publication of the TDR's shows the reformers cannot be trust to keep their promises, but even more importantly, the publication of the TDR's shows what a load of garbage VAM is and gives a glimpse into the future if the state goes ahead with the new evaluation system.