Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reading The Tea Leaves On Mulgrew's Evaluation Update

UFT President Mulgrew sent out an update last night on the evaluation negotiations:

Dear colleagues,
Monday marks the third straight day and night of intensive talks with the Department of Education over a new teacher development and evaluation plan. Although our negotiating team has been able to make progress on some matters, there are still many key issues that remain unsolved.
We will continue to negotiate around the clock in an effort to break the stalemate and reach an agreement that gives you the support and time you need to give students a great education. As of now, the DOE will not commit to such a plan and is once again putting politics above children. However, we will persevere.
We continue to plan for two possible scenarios. If we are not able to reach an agreement, we will have to quickly engage with parents and the community. We will need to make sure New Yorkers understand that it was the mayor and his disrespect for teachers and the work that you do that undermined negotiations.
However, if we are able to reach an agreement and the Delegate Assembly approves it, our priority will be getting clear information out to all of you so that we can combat the fear and misinformation that are bound to come with a new teacher development and evaluation system.
We will keep you updated.
Meanwhile, I personally want to thank the thousands of members who participated in Monday's leafleting to parents and commuters across the city as we continue to put pressure on the mayor to do the right thing. School-based efforts like these are critical to the work that we do.
Michael  Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew
James Eterno at ICEUFT blog writes that he holds out hope that "the UFT leadership will reject a bad evaluation system which I believe is the only kind the city would ever agree to."
I'm not as hopeful of that as James is.
Still, it is interesting that we are now less than 72 hours away from the Cuomo deadline (midnight January 17) and still no deal has been reached.
Norm Scott said somewhere (can't remember where now) that Mulgrew and the leadership are just taking this down to the wire to make it look like they fought for the membership before conceding to everything Bloomberg wants.
I suspect that is the game Mulgrew is playing here too.
This is a UFT election year, after all, so Mulgrew has to make it look like he is fighting for the interests of his members, even when he really has done much to harm the interests of his members by first, not fighting the original Race to the Top legislation and APPR law, and then by agreeing to drop the lawsuit against the NYSED and the Regents for changing the test component part of the APPR system from 20% to 40%.

In addition, Mulgrew and the UFT, along with his mentor Randi Weingarten and the AFT, continue to play both sides of the debate on the use of high stakes standardized tests to evaluate teachers.  
On the one hand, they'll say there's too much testing in the system and the tests shouldn't be used to bludgeon teachers, but then they agree to use test scores as part of the Teacher Data Reports that the NYCDOE used against teachers in 2007-2010.  Those TDR's had a median margin of error of 52% and a maximum margin of error of 87% and STILL the UFT agreed to their use.
Or they invite the King of the Testing Data Systems, Bill Gates, to speak to the AFT convention and have their Unity and Weingarten hacks boo anybody who criticizes the choice of Gates as keynote speaker.
Or they send Leo Casey out to attack anybody who points out the flaws in the APPR system that they agreed to last February - as happened when Casey "set the record straight" and attacked Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris for their criticism of the APPR system.
Or they have Unity hack Peter Goodman call anybody who opposes value-added measurements of teachers a Tea Partier.
Or they threaten to "combat the fear and misinformation" that will come when an evaluation agreement is reached, which is a way of saying they will hammer anybody who points out problems with the agreement, which is absurd considering Mulgrew just said one paragraph above that the DOE is fighting them tooth and nail and refusing to agree to a reasonable evaluation system.  Why wouldn't members be suspect of any evaluation agreement reached when the negotiations have been so fraught with suspicion and acrimony?

So the track record of the UFT and Mulgrew himself, along with the AFT and Weingarten herself, is mixed at best when it comes to protecting their members from the ravages of education reform or standing up for a vision of education that does not embrace voodoo science in the form of the error-riddled value added measurement algorithm.

They're playing a two-fold strategy here, talking a good game about fighting the use of high stakes testing (as Weingarten did at the last AFT convention, the one Gates wasn't invited to) while pushing a contract in Newark that promoted the use of high stakes tests and value-added measurements of teachers based on those tests.
When it comes to the AFT and the UFT, you've got to watch what they do, not what they say.
What I've seen from the UFT in the last year is a cave-in to the governor on the APPR test component, a dropping of the lawsuit against the NYSED and the Regents (a suit they actually won, btw), Mulgrew standing on stage with Cuomo, Tisch and King to celebrate the APPR system last February, Leo Casey attacking Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris when they pointed out the flaws in the APPR system, and the UFT failing to take to the airwaves and explain in a coherent, informed manner just why APPR is a damaging evaluation system for BOTH teachers AND students.
Not exactly the actions of a union leadership looking to really put a stake through the heart of the VAM voodoo system, is it?
So the cynic in me (and how can anybody help but be cynical when dealing with Mulgrew, Weingarten and their functionaries) says this is all a kabuki dance and we will have an agreement before midnight January 17, Mulgrew and his Unity hacks will tell us the agreement is the best they could come up with given the circumstances, and they will send out Peter Goodman and the rest of their Unity attack messengers to hammer anybody who dares to criticize the agreement or point out the flaws in it.
As always, hope to be wrong about this.
But I have said time and time again, you will never go broke betting that the UFT leadership will sell out the rank and file membership for political expediency or their own agenda.
And I suspect that is what is happening here.
That paragraph about the union getting ready to fight any "fear or misinformation" that will spread after they reach an agreement on the evaluation system with the DOE ought to tell you exactly where they're going with this.


  1. If we are not able to reach an agreement, we will have to quickly engage with parents and the community.
    Shouldn't Mr. Mulgrew already be engaging with the parents and community?

  2. Boy did you nail them on the high stakes testing stuff where they try to play both sides but as usual watch what they do not what they say -- they use words to say they are against HST and actions to support it.
    Read my upcoming post of a letter NYSUT sent out with another attack on Carol Burris.
    I'm going to use much of this great post in a follow-up where I tweeted with Leo and Randi.