Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, November 21, 2013

UFT Leadership Defends The ADVANCE Teacher Evaluation System Once Again

Excellent report from James Eterno from yesterday's Delegate's Assembly:

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applause when she concluded her remarks by saying teachers need a voice and that the entire 3012c law needs to be repealed.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.


  1. As a non-UFT member who is impacted by the UFT's heavy influence/stranglehold on NYSUT, it has been heartening to see the opposition that MORE provided to current UFT leadership. Here's hoping that disaffected UFT members flock to the MORE Caucus.

  2. Stranglehold on the AFT as well. The sheer number of delegates coming from the UFT guaranteed that Weingarten would be elected president of the AFT. Let's keep in mind as well that everyone of those delegwtes has signed the Unity oath of allegiance. Had they not signed they wouldn't be invited to attend those big galas in the first place.

  3. If, after a dozen years of intense scapegoating and abuse, combined with continuing betrayal by their autocratic union, NYC teachers are not already in a state of active resistance and rebellion, then when is it going to happen?

    I'm not happy to say it, but I've just about given up on expecting my colleagues to stand up for themselves and their students. Most of them have no frame of reference for comprehending what's occurring, and don't seem to have the capacity to resist in even minor ways.

  4. I agree with Michael to some extent but also with the idea RBE puts forth that most people in his school agree with MORE. The key issue for MORE is how to coral that into an organized form of opposition? If the CL and delegates from that school were at the DA with MORE that would be a start -- just multiply them by a few hundred MORE schools and instead of the vote being 70-30 Unity it would be reversed. Unity has only so many delegates. It is incumbent on MORE to demonstrate the ability to organize and mobilize an active resistance in the UFT. My feeling is that MORE cannot rely on the same game plan so many failed opposition parties have followed in the past but come up with new strategies that can reach deep into the schools to the rank and file.