Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, January 26, 2014

And Yet Three More Oldies But Goodies: Michael Mulgrew Defends John King's APPR Teacher Evaluation System

Because I'm in the mood for oldies this afternoon, here's three more UFT gems coming to you from back on September 4, September 5, and September 13:

First, from September 4, 2013:

Michael Mulgrew Hails New APPR Advance Teacher Evaluation System

Remember this while you're collecting your artifacts and preparing for your 4-6 observations on 22 Danielson domains and wondering why you're being evaluated using ELA test scores even though you're an art teachers or concerned that the state is going to align the PSAT scores as the baseline for Regents scores and evaluate teachers with that data:

Michael Mulgrew LOVES this new evaluation system.

Seriously, he does - he told us in an e mail today:

As you all are aware, this new system was the result of binding arbitration presided over by state Education Commissioner John King when we could not come to an agreement with Mayor Bloomberg on a teacher evaluation system required by state law. Mayor Bloomberg never wanted an evaluation system that could help teachers. He only wanted a system to beat up teachers
But the state teacher evaluation law is clear in its intent to support the work teachers do inside the classroom, and that is exactly how we plan to see it used in New York City.

It was clear to every teacher in the room in my school yesterday that the new Advance teacher evaluation system imposed by John King and hailed by Michael Mulgrew does nothing of the sort like support teachers.

It is a "gotcha" system plain and simple, so complex and convoluted in how it is devised that not even the "experts" in the school who sat through hours of NYCDOE explanations about the system could properly explain how the test score components are going to work.

That Mulgrew is defending this system in an email at all tells you all you need to know about how much the UFT is invested in it.

Mulgrew and Iannuzzi helped devise it, they stood on stage with Cuomo after he forced them to drop the successful lawsuit they had mounted against the Regents over the testing component that went above and beyond the RttT law, Mulgrew was happy to see King named an "independent arbitrator" who got to impose a system of evaluation on NYC teachers and once the nightmare system was imposed by Reformy John, Mulgrew attacked anybody who criticized the system.

He keeps saying this system has "multiple measures of evaluation" - but when test scores trump all else (get declared "ineffective" on the test score components and you have to be declared "ineffective" overall!) , there are no multiple measures of evaluation.

In effect, the 40% testing component is 100% if you come up "i-rated" on it.

Why doesn't Mulgrew criticize that component?  Why does he paper over the problems in this system?

Because this is Mulgrew's baby, pure and simple and he likes it.

Sure, he says he wants to make sure the implementation is fair and just.

But what the hell does that mean?

When you have a system that is totally unworkable, complex, convoluted and inexplicable to parents and teachers, how do you make sure the implementation is fair and just?

I have written that I think that many teachers who have been largely apolitical about union politics are going to be politicized and radicalized after a couple of years of this system.

I saw that in the room yesterday as administrators tried to explain this Advance system to people.

Compare Mulgrew's email to UFT members with what Julie Cavanagh wrote last week about the APPR Advance system.

Everybody in the PD room yesterday agreed more with Cavanagh's characterization of the system than Mulgrew's.

They can bring Leo Casey back to sling all the crap they want about how the system scrapes the skies.

People know a "gotcha" system when they see it.

And that's what the Advance APPR teacher evaluation system is.

And now a post from September 5, 2013:

Mulgrew AGAIN Defends Advance APPR Teacher Evaluation System In An Email

They must be feeling some pressure down at 52 Broadway this week, as teachers who haven't been following the ins-and-outs of the teacher evaluation system battles got their first detailed look at the Advance APPR system and learned just how insanely complex, convoluted and unworkable it is, because UFT President Michael Mulgrew has now sent out two emails defending the system.

The first one was entitled "Getting Started With The New Teacher Evaluation System" and was sent to teachers on September 4.

In that email, Mulgrew defended the new teacher evaluation system as "clear in its intent to support the work teachers do inside the classroom" and promised teachers "that is exactly how we plan to see it used in New York City."

Mulgrew claimed the the new system "has multiple measures, including observations and the local measures of student learning," so that claims it is fixated on test scores alone are false.

But as I noted yesterday 

He keeps saying this system has "multiple measures of evaluation" - but when test scores trump all else (get declared "ineffective" on the test score components and you have to be declared "ineffective" overall!) , there are no multiple measures of evaluation.

In effect, the 40% testing component is 100% if you come up "i-rated" on it.

In addition, while Mulgrew claimed the "local measures" component of the evaluation system is one of those "multiple measures" that make the system something other than test score-fixated, many schools are using test scores as their local measures.

In some cases, teachers outside of ELA and math licenses are being evaluated on the test scores of their students on ELA and math tests for the local measure component.

Mulgrew can claim the system has"multiple measures" of so-called teacher effectiveness all he wants - the fact is 40% of the evaluation system is made up of test scores and if you get dinged "ineffective" on that 40%, you HAVE to be rated "ineffective" overall.

And they still haven't finished completing how the local measures are going to be calculated.

Someone said yesterday when you go to the Advance website for how the system is going to work, it is mostly empty of details.

There are no calculation models, no growth model information, no details of how the performance assessments that may be used for the local measures will be graded, handled and stored.

In actuality, the DOE is still making this system up as they go even though high stakes decisions are going to be made using this system that remains a work-in-progress.

As teachers began to learn the full details of the system this week, many have become outraged that the union would ever agree to anything like this.

In my department, every teacher - every one - criticized the new system as "insane," "unworkable," and the "handiwork of people who have never taught more than a short period of time."

I have heard from other people around the system that many teachers were reacting that way this week as well.

And so, the union is feeling some pressure and Michael Mulgrew is feeling some pressure, enough that he decided to write a second email today entitled "The Challenges Ahead" again telling us how wonderful this new system is:

Furthermore, we have to make the new teacher evaluation system about supporting the work we do in the classroom every day, not a gotcha system — and we will work with the new administration to see that it does.

Notice the emphasis on working with a new administration to make sure the new evaluation system is not used as a "gotcha system" in Mulgrew's statement.

That is an implicit acknowledgement that the system as devised, with it's 4-6 observations a year using the Danielson rubric with the 22 domains, with the 40% testing component that in effect becomes 100% if you're declared "ineffective" on both the state and local test parts, can indeed be used as a "gotcha" system.

It was clear to all the teachers in my department this week that this is exactly what the system is.

One teacher, noting the impossibility of getting rated "highly effective" on Danielson and the difficulty of getting "effective" on all three parts, said the system seemed devised to have as many teachers as possible come up "ineffective" or "developing."

And indeed, that was the premise that the NYSED and the Regents started with when they developed this system - most teachers suck, so let's create a system that shows that.

It's the same thing they did with the 3rd-8th grade Common Core tests - they started with the premise that most students are "failures," they devised a grading scheme for the tests that would bear that premise out, then released the scores showing widespread drops in scores all across the state.

It's all part of their propaganda work to "prove" to parents and the public that schools are failing, students are failing, teachers are failing and something drastic must be done to solve the problems in the system.

The drastic solutions they have in mind are charterization of as many schools as possible, wholesale takeovers of school districts, the busting of all teacher work protections, the end of tenure (which they already have effectively accomplished with the new APPR system anyway - two straight "ineffective" ratings and you're fired!), even more testing in the system, the complete standardization of teaching practice across the state - these are the solutions they are working toward at the NYSED and the Regents.

Our unions - the AFT, the NYSUT and Mike Mulgrew's UFT - have been complicit in the destruction of the system by not fighting this radical agenda being promoted by the NYSED and the Regents, by not pointing out the absurdities and unworkability of the new APPR system, by not fighting to have this system abolished and replaced with something that actually isn't a rigged "gotcha" system.

Alas, our union leaders dropped the lawsuit against APPR (one which they won in the lower courts) and hailed the system back in February 2012 as an improvement over the old one.

The UFT has attacked critics of the system, like Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris, rather than try and fix the problems in the system or, better yet, have it scrapped totally.

And now, as NYC teachers start to realize how badly they are going to be screwed by the Advance APPR system, Mulgrew has his propaganda writers working overtime to churn out Daily News opinion pieces and staff emails he can put his name to defending the new system.

Propaganda will not fool teachers into thinking a crap system is anything other than crap.

The UFT leadership is used to blustering their way through issues, jiving people with lies and misinformation or propaganda.

But they will not be able to lie, misinform or propagandize their way through APPR.

This week, teachers saw for their own eyes the insanity of the system, the convoluted state and local measures components that nobody seems to understand, not the Tweedies, not the UFT, not even John King,  the unworkability of all the observations, the rigged nature of using all 22 Danielson domains for evaluations.

Mulgrew can send all the emails he wants out to members.

He won't be able to fool people anymore now that they have the Advance APPR system noose - a noose partly devised with the help of Mike Mulgrew and the UFT - around their necks.

Lucky for us we have Julie Cavanagh at MORE to send out information for how teachers can protect themselves and their colleagues as best they can from this new "gotcha" system.

You can read that information here and contrast it with the "information" Mulgrew and the UFT leadership have sent you about the new system.

Then, in three years time, remember which union leader really looks out for teachers and schools and which is complicit in the destruction of the public school system and the teaching profession.

Finally September 13:

Mulgrew Still Loves His ADVANCE APPR Teacher Evaluation System

James Eterno at ICEUFT has a rundown of what UFT President Michael Mulgrew told chapter leaders yesterday in a meeting.

I found the part about teacher evaluations most interesting:

President Mulgrew ceded very little ground when he talked about the state imposed new teacher evaluation system.  While members of the Movement of Rank and File Educators were handing out leaflets with a petition on the back urging for a moratorium on imposing the new system, Mulgrew was inside telling us that the UFT disagrees with the implementation of the new system by the current Department of Education administration.  Specifically, he emphasized how there is a state Public Employees Relations Board case going on and a Union initiated grievance.  He also told us that there are 150 new arbitration slots thanks to the new system so we can have many problems that can't be worked out by October 25 taken to this expedited process. He once again insisted that we have stronger due process under the current system than we had in the past.
He then argued that the increased observations under Danielson's framework could be positive if they are handled in a collegial way by administration but if administration plays hardball with teachers, Mulgrew recommended that teachers respond in kind by holding them to the letter of the law.
Mulgrew did admit that he was troubled by the Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) portion of the new "Advance" evaluation system, where we are judged on student test scores, but he insisted that changing and expanding what can be used for our MOSL scores would be a priority in contract negotiations. 
During the question period, Mulgrew addressed lesson plans.  He told the Chapter Leaders that the Danielson framework leaves the lesson plan format up to the teacher but the DOE disputes this.  He said that our contract is still in effect in terms of freedom of lesson plan format and prohibition against ritualized collection of lesson plans by administration so we are in grievance in these areas.
Mulgrew summed up the evaluation system by predicting that two years from now, many more schools will be doing evaluation right than wrong and that teachers need to get over their fear of having other adults in their classrooms.  He also told us that we must report it to the UFT if we need questions answered on the evaluation system, if don't have curriculum or if we have problems such as oversize classes.
Herein lies the seeds of an opportunity to kick Mulgrew to the curb in three years.
Teachers in schools roundly hate this new system.
Everyone is being forced to do a lot more documentation work for this system, work that is taking away time and energy from teachers to do what they need to do in the classroom - teach students, grade assignments, etc.
Remember that it was Mulgrew and the union who insisted all 22 domains of the Danielson be used - the DOE didn't think they could pull that off the first year.
So now teachers are having to scramble to make sure they can be "effective" or "highly effective" on all 22 domains, which means lots of extra documentation on top of all the other changes brought about by the system.
And then there's the MOSL thing.
Mulgrew may say he doesn't like this part so much, but as James Eterno and NYC Educator have both pointed out in the past, he's told the DA that no teachers should be afraid of growth models on student work, that the union had argued during the negotiation process for growth models to be added as the local component of student performance, so this part of the evaluation system is once again his baby.
In quite a few schools around the city, teachers are being evaluated on this part of ADVANCE using tests scores of students they don't teach in classes they don't teach in subjects they're not licensed in.
That's happening in my school and I have heard from others that's happening in their schools as well.
Now I don't know about you, but I get concerned when my so-called performance is judged on something that I have no control over - like how students perform on ELA performance assessments in September and June that will be run through some DOE growth model formula.
But this is compounded for many other teachers outside of ELA who will be judged using those scores as well.
How can somebody who teaches health or gym or a vocational class be meaningfully evaluated by using test scores of students on an ELA performance assessment?
The DOE says they can and John King agrees.
So does the UFT leadership, because if they didn't agree with it, they would be suing over it.
Instead they're awaiting another mayor, a new contract, and negotiations to iron out all the problems with the system.
But there's one problem with that strategy.
Since the new contract is expected to get done sometime in the spring,  the magnitude of the problems with this system won't be apparent until after the union conducts negotations.
Hell, the evaluations won't be done until the fall.
How can the UFT iron out kinks in the system if they don't even know how many teachers are getting rung up as "ineffective" or "developing" yet?
Well, they can't.
They'll say, oh, don't worry, we'll have a more amenable mayor and we'll come back and fix those later too.
The truth is, the system cannot be fixed because at its core it is broken.
It was developed as a "gotcha" system, with the Danielson rubric with so many domains to be filled that just about any teacher can be rated "ineffective," with the two separate test components that have some teachers being graded on tests in subjects other than their own (sometimes taken by students other than their own), with all the extra documentation and the new lesson plan requirements (yeah, I know the UFT says there are no new lesson plan requirements, but in practice around this city, there are new lesson plan requirements...)
It was also developed as a "burn and churn" system - so many moving parts, so much a teacher has to do in order to be rated "effective (much of it doing nothing to increase the level of teaching and learning - it's all just documentation) - so that many teachers will just up and say, "I've had enough!" and move on.
This system was devised not to get rid of so-called "bad teachers."
It was devised to get rid of any and all teachers, by burning them out, by increasing the stress and pressure of the job, by increasing the mandates without increasing the compensation, by taking all of the joy out of teaching and learning and making everything into standardized rigamarole and excess documentation.
And from what I hear from teachers this first work week, they've succeeded in doing just that.
That Mulgrew refuses to concede issues with the system as devised (as opposed to as implemented) shows you just how out of touch the leadership is with the rank-and-file.
That's to be expected, because the leadership surrounds themselves with cronies and "yes men" and isn't big on hearing dissenting opinions from within, so I bet they really believe their own b.s. on this system.
But the rank-and-file know how damaging this system is because they are living under it and they may be fired under it and they will not be fooled by Michael Mulgrew or Leo Casey or any other UFT/AFT shill touting how great the system is.
It is a long, hard road to rid ourselves of this insulated, isolated leadership - they have rigged the election process in a way that makes it very difficult to do it - but ADVANCE APPR will make that process a little easier to do.
MORE will run against Unity/New Action using ADVANCE APPR as a bludgeon - Mulgrew and the leadership helped devise this system, they allowed it to be implemented on you, they are defending it and they think there are just minor tweaks that need to be done to make it swell.
Isn't it time you get a union leadership that protects you from this kind of system rather than defends it?
That's the kind of message they'll use.
After three years of ADVANCE APPR chaos, I bet that message resonates with the rank-and-file.
Mulgrew loves ADVANCE APPR - Isn't it time we get rid of Mulgrew?

Three different times in September - two emails and a chapter leader's communique - Mulgrew defended APPR, the John King-imposed system that he helped develop and was happy to see John King impose on us.

Does this sound like a union leader wanting to issue a vote of no confidence in either John King or King's APPR teacher evaluation system handiwork?


  1. Thank you for this comprehensive breakdown and detailed information of the UFT and NYSED's shenanigans against the teachers. I've emailed this posting to all my colleagues on my listserv. Hopefully, my colleagues will email it to others.

    1. Thanks - dunno if it helps much in the NYSUT elections, where the fix will be in. But the more people who understand that Mulgrew is pro-reform, pro-CCSS, pro-APPR, and pro-King/pro-Cuomo, the better.

    2. That's my intention for my colleagues to learn more about Mulgrew favoring pro-deformers instead of fighting them. The more the members understand, the angrier they'll get, and hopefully, the less likely they'll vote for Mulgrew in May 2016.

  2. I love when Norm calls him Mulgarten

  3. Mr. Mulgrew will not be graded and evaluated by some idiot walking behind him with a clipboard and a rubric. His relatives and friends in the system will not be evaluated that way either. (Arguably they OUGHT to be; but they won't be.)

    The larger issue is that ed policy ( and union policy) is invariably driven by people who are removed from the situation ; in this case, the classroom. Dysfunction is born at *exactly* that point.

    We need to challenge the very notion that school administrators can be anything other than working educators. As the system is set-up now, people with limited teaching ability ( and even less interest) are incentivized into the ranks of administration. Result: well, look around you. Policy is set by precisely the *wrong* people.

    The idea of full-time administrator is a relatively new... and deeply flawed idea. Principals historically taught part time and took on administrative responsibilities IN ADDITION TO their pedagogical duties. This makes complete sense and the same logic applies to union officers. No one, NO ONE, should be negotiating an eval system for us who is not willing to be SUBJECT to it.

    1. This is the best thing I have heard over the evaluation system in a long, long time: "No one, NO ONE, should be negotiating an eval system for us who is not willing to be SUBJECT to it."

      You're completely right, Paul.


  4. Teacher evaluations is one of the key factors that have been killing education. Even before the the government adopted this plan parents and students started it. ":I want my kid in Mr/Mrs. __ class because all her students get 90's or above." People are just interested in the grade not what is actually learned. Why is this???

    As a college student I made the dean's list almost even semester, however the class I learned the most in and had the best teacher was my lowest grade of my career a C+.

    We were all students once and only the few who follow education thoughout our lives understand the greatness of it. Most people who critizie education can only do so by their limited experiece as a young student. People who seek out education as a path in life understand that scores are only a messure of the test taker and a tool used by the test taker and educator to learn from and not be evaluated on!

    People who critize education on their limited experience are simply ingnorant to its amazing power and grace. They simply judge the system by their experience they had as a child who may have had a problem while they were in school. Maybe they were too immature yet to learn properly, maybe they didn't like their teacher, maybe they didn't like to school rules, maybe they were just to young yet? I know from my experience I was too young minded and immature to focus on education in grade school and barely graduated high school. This had nothing to do with my teachers, and I never looked to blame them. I did poorly in high school simply because I wasn't ready to be taught at that level yet. It wasn't until college that I realized I was able to pursue education and enjoyed learning because I was mature enough to do so.