First, ICEUFT reported that UFT Secretary Michael Mendel had sent a "blistering" letter to Dennis Walcott and other DOE brass, criticizing the way principals and networks are practicing and preparing for the new evaluation system in schools, saying it “has been a disaster and that it has created a terrible atmosphere of fear around both the new evaluation system and the Danielson protocols.”
Gotham Schools further reported that Mendel said the new evaluation system is "doomed to failure" because
“I believe even if we reach an agreement, the present structure of the DOE and the past practice since Sept 2011 demonstrate that you cannot and will not roll it out successfully,” he wrote, adding that the current “network” structure has muddied lines of accountability for principals.
Mendel went on to say that the DOE needs to come to some agreement with the UFT on a "proper rollout" of the evaluation system or it will all be "doomed for failure."
Meanwhile Peter Goodman, an education blogger who has served as a Unity/UFT leadership mouthpiece in the past, posted the following about NYC's value-added ratings for 3rd-8th grade math and ELA teachers that were just released:
The department released the Value Added Scores derived from the state ELA and Math scores administered to students in grades 3-8 – impacting about 14,000 out of the 75,000 teachers in New York City.
UFT President Mulgrew announced that 6% of teachers were rated “ineffective” and 9% rated “highly effectively.” In order to be charged a teacher must be rated “ineffective” on their overall score or on the VAM and “locally negotiated” section for two consecutive years. When we consider the “instability” of the scores – wide year to year variation – the percentage of teachers impacted will be quite low.
Goodman asks the following questions that were not answered in the data release:
* Were the “ineffective” ratings spread evenly or concentrated in inner city districts?
* Were more teachers of Special Education and English Language Learners rated “ineffective”?
* What was the dispersion by experience?
He then writes:
Bad science that does not assist teachers in improving and may remove the wrong teachers.
And. two or three years down the road when the first teacher is brought to trial will a court throw out the use of Value Added scores?
How many days until Bloomberg’s term ends?
And so now we see the UFT strategy for dealing with the APPR rollout and the inevitable problems with the VAM.
They ought to say this:
"Mayor Bloomberg, you and your DOE cannot be trusted with this new evaluation system as we already have numerous complaints and charges of misuse and abuse of the Danielson rubric in order to intimidate and 'i-rate' teachers.
"In addition, you are demanding that we agree to the release of individual teacher ratings in the media, a demand which asks us to agree to break the law statute that says no individual teacher rating will be given to anybody other than the principal, the teacher, and parents of children in the teacher's class.
As such, we are stating publicly that we will not agree to your evaluation stipulations and are further taking you to court for not bargaining in good faith over this evaluation system, as required by the law passed by the state senate and assembly and signed by Governor Cuomo."
In addition, the UFT ought to be saying this:
"Furthermore, we can see that the value-added measurements you plan to use on individual teachers are rife with error and suffer from wide swings in stability. Many respected experts say that using these value-added measurements on individual teachers will lead to every teacher eventually getting tarred with an "ineffective" rating because the methodology is so error-riddled.
"In addition, we believe that APPR is a harmful evaluation system because it pits teachers against each other, further narrows the curriculum to only what is tested as teachers, adds an observation rubric so complex that it cannot be used effectively or fairly, and a Student Learning Objective process that is so convoluted as to render the whole exercise meaningless.
"Therefore, we are declaring publicly that this half-baked, unpiloted evaluation system is going to do much more harm than good and we are going to work with the leadership in Albany, concerned parents, the many principals and administrators who are publicly opposed to this system, and teachers themselves to develop an evaluation system that is rigorous but fair - one that will make our schools, teachers and students better, not worse."
That ought to be the strategy and tact the UFT takes.
But that isn't what they're doing.
Instead they're engaged in pre-APPR CYA mode.
They're saying the evaluation system sucks and is "doomed to failure" and we told you so beforehand - but we're going to agree to it anyway because the political pressure on us is too acute.
And we know that VAM and test-based evaluations are harmful to schools, students and teachers, but we're not going to fight that nonsense in any effective way either. We'll say we're against that kind of stuff, but when the chips are done, we'll give in to test-based evaluations and perhaps even test-based compensation, as has the parent AFT with the contracts in Baltimore and Newark.
Worse, they seem to think waiting out Bloomberg will solve all problems, failing to see that once a toxic evaluation system is put into place, it is very difficult to get that toxicity out.
Litigating a bad system is not the solution to the problems with APPR either.
Not agreeing to the bad system in the first place and stating very publicly the very reasonable and good reasons why you're not agreeing to it is the solution.
Get ready for the sell-out, folks.
From the rhetoric emanating from the UFT people, it's coming soon.
And they're already trying to cover themselves from the fall-out.