Let's assume that NYSED officials burn the midnight oil and stay until 12:00 AM Friday morning to receive any evaluation agreement between the NYCDOE and the UFT that might be sent their way.
Regents Chancellor Tisch has said they've been approving components in a piecemeal fashion as parts of the evaluation system have been agreed to by the NYCDOE and the UFT and sent along to Albany.
Now I dunno if that's true or that's her just talking smack to make it sound like they won't have much work to do to approve whatever comes over the wires tomorrow night at deadline.
But let's assume the NYCDOE and the UFT can send something in pretty late tomorrow night.
That means we have about twenty nine more hours of eval drama before all the fun ends.
Gotham Schools put up a piece that laid out the different reasons the mayor, the DOE and the UFT may want to come to an agreement or not come to an agreement.
The reasons they give for why the UFT might not want to come to an agreement are pretty powerful ones:
- The uncertainty, fears about some elements of the evaluation system, and perceived abuses by the Department of Education have conspired to turn many teachers off of new evaluations. Some of them are so distressed that they are questioning whether the union’s leadership is making choices that are good for teachers. Union leaders rejected a call by a minority party for a resolution that would require all members to ratify any deal that the UFT struck, but especially with his own election set for just a few months from now, UFT President Michael Mulgrew knows he has to recognize the criticism. His refusal to negotiate until the city hashed out an implementation plan and the union’s call for a mediator this week could appease angry union members, but declining to make a deal at all might satisfy them more.
- Bloomberg has made no bones about wanting to sign off on an evaluation system that allows weak teachers to be fired. Negotiators working for a mayor with a softer attitude about teachers might push for a different evaluation system. The city is likely to get such a mayor in just a year — and the union’s position would be even stronger if the candidate it endorses occupies City Hall when a new evaluation system is adopted.
- Another reason to wait until 2014 is that it makes sense for the union to negotiate a deal in conjunction with a new contract, the first time that new evaluations legally must be adopted. A broader set of negotiations could allow the union to extract concessions from the city in exchange for linking test scores to teacher ratings and putting more pressure on teachers to improve. The city said the union has already asked for a limit on school closures and for “economic credits” toward a new contract, but it has argued that those requests are illegal outside of contract negotiations.
- No one really knows what will happen under a new evaluation system. More teachers could get low ratings, leading to poor public opinion of teachers and forcing the union into having to defend teachers who score low under a system the union itself agreed to.
Those are some very good reasons for why the UFT ought to hold off on any agreement.
The reasons they give for why the UFT might want to make agreement do not seem as compelling to me:
- The current evaluation system is also completely arbitrary: Principals can issue unsatisfactory ratings for a wide array of reasons and show only minimal evidence. A new system would be more clear, understandable, and transparent — making retaliatory ratings less likely and inappropriately low ratings easier to contest.
- And uncertainty about the impact of a new evaluation system could cut the other way, too: An untested system — particularly one that the union helped create — could result in good reviews for more teachers.
- The union knows that most teachers want to be good at their jobs. The current evaluation system does not include any mechanism for helping teachers get better, and principals aren’t held accountable for providing support. Those features have to be built into the new system.
- Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the union also understands that teachers would be better off, on balance, if some weak teachers are ushered out of the classroom. The union would have more cover for making unpopular concessions if it strikes a deal under Bloomberg than under a future mayor who might be more union-friendly.
- It’s also possible, though not probable, that the next mayor could be even less willing to play nice with the union. Now that Joe Lhota is on the scene, the prospect of a Democratic mayor in 2014 is less certain than it was a month ago. Even though insiders and polls both see him as a long shot, Lhota could push rhetoric in the race for City Hall rightward and harden other candidates’ lines toward the union.
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo really, really wants every school district to adopt new teacher evaluations by the deadline he set — and almost all have. Blocking an evaluation deal in New York City would anger Cuomo just in time for the start of the legislative and budget season, when the union has its own agenda it would like to see supported.
- If the governor makes good on his threat to withhold school aid from districts without evaluation systems, the city could face an education budget gap larger than in almost any other year since the economic recession started. Last-minute budget deals have averted teacher layoffs in the past, but there’s no assurance that the same thing would happen this time, particularly if there’s a perception that the shortfall is the teachers’ fault.
- And attacks on the union until now would pale in comparison to those sure to be unleashed if teacher evaluation negotiations fail again.
Lhota isn't winning City Hall.
Whoever wins the Democratic primary runs a "How Do You Feel About Giuliani?" campaign against the former Giuliani aide and torpedoes him.
I'm not worried about that scenario in the least.
I think it's a pretty good chance that whoever replaces Bloomberg will be nowhere near as big a psychopath as the current little man is and whatever deal gets made post-Bloomberg will almost certainly be better than one that would be made now under these current conditions.
James Eterno at ICEUFT blog has written more than once that the only deal the UFT can get out of Bloomberg is a bad one, so why deal with him?
I agree completely and that, to me is the most compelling argument for why the UFT should let the deadline pass and deal with the consequences.
Yeah, the loss in increased aid will be used as bludgeon against teachers and the UFT by the media and by Bloomberg, but to be honest, that bludgeon will be nothing like the one they'll wield when APPR causes ten thousand teachers to be rated "ineffective" next year.