No speakers were permitted to oppose a Unity Caucus resolution reinforced the UFT's support for the evaluation law. However, the UFT is calling for a moratorium on using the results of high stakes tests for teacher evaluations until alterations to the local portion of the Measures of Student Learning portion of the system can be worked out in contract negotiations. The Unity sponsored resolution was on the regular agenda. It was introduced a few minutes after Delegate Megan Moskop from MORE introduced a resolution for next month during the new motion period calling for the UFT to support legislation to scrap the entire teacher evaluation law.
When Megan raised the MORE resolution, Mulgrew had no choice but to allow her to speak on its behalf as it she had obtained the floor. In Megan's speech, she emphasized how using high stakes tests to evaluate teachers is a huge step back for the teaching profession, our members and the students. Megan skillfully pointed to some of the points made by Mulgrew in his Presidents' Report about how misuse of standardized testing and education profiteering is bad for kids as well as teachers.
MORE also had excellent literature in support of this resolution which noted that the UFT had a task force report in 2007 that completely opposed using high stakes tests in any way shape or form to evaluate teachers. MORE also was highly critical of the Danielson observation system in the resolution saying it "subjects teachers to a cookie-cutter observation system that limits professional autonomy and reduces teaching to a series of numbered scores." Megan received energized applause when she concluded her remarks by saying teachers need a voice and that the entire 3012c law needs to be repealed.
When Megan finished speaking, UFT Vice President Janella Hinds rose to defend the evaluation system law. Janella said that MORE misunderstood the new system as it rates teachers based on multiple measures which the UFT likes. This was also emphasized in the Unity Caucus literature that was handed out before the meeting. Janella argued that the new system took the power to rate teachers negatively out of the exclusive hands of principals. She added that we do not want to go back to the old system where ratings were exclusively the purview of principals. In addition, Janella objected to the criticism of the Danielson framework which she claimed was not part of the evaluation law. She also disagreed that tenure was weakened under the evaluation law as she pointed out that each teacher rated ineffective would be visited by an independent validator the following year.
Janella also said that the problem was not so much the law as the Department of Education's inept implementation of the law and that is why the UFT filed 17 grievances against the DOE on evaluations. She closed by saying that how her students do on the Regents is a very important part of what she does and that MORE is trying to organize through fear which is not good. Her remarks were politely, if not enthusiastically, received.
There you have it - the current UFT leadership supports the teacher evaluation law, supports using test scores to evaluate teachers, supports the cookie cutter approach to classroom observations via the Danielson (Teach THIS way or be declared "ineffective"!), believes the evaluation system that they helped devise will be just swell as soon as they conduct some minor tweaks during contract negotiations.
MORE, on the other hand, believes teachers should not be evaluated using test scores (and used the UFT's own rationale from the past on that very issue to support their stance), believes the Danielson rubric does much harm as it allows for only one way of teaching and limits teacher autonomy, believes the new evaluation system destroys tenure and gives more power to the powers-that-be to harass and fire teachers.
I can say that at my school, an overwhelming number of teachers are much closer to the MORE position on the evaluation system than the UFT leadership's.
If the UFT leadership continues to defend this evaluation system - especially test score-based ratings and Danielson - they are going to find that they have a major rebellion in the ranks on their hands.
There is a lot of FEAR and LOATHING out there over this system, a lot of damage being done to good, effective, professional teachers.
Pity the cronies running the UFT do not care about that.
Teachers will remember this betrayal from the leadership.