Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, April 27, 2014

NY Post: Mulgrew, Farina Say Teachers "Should Embrace" New Evaluation System

This is buried at the bottom of a piece about the city paying three leases for Eva Moskowitz and Success Academies:

Meanwhile de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and teachers union boss Michael Mulgrew spoke of “unity” at the United Federation of Teachers spring conference Saturday at the New York Hilton.

“For me this has been a natural partnership,” de Blasio said at the lovefest.

Mulgrew and Fariña agreed that teachers should “embrace” the new evaluation system — one critics say was badly weakened when legislators voted to delay tying student test scores to teacher assessment for two years.

Everyone was mum on ongoing contract talks between the city and the teachers union.

Was anybody who reads this blog at this thing?

Did Mulgrew actually say this?

Did Farina?

Because if they did, then they're completely divorced from the reality of what's going on in actual schools:

Constant observations that lead to reams of paperwork with meaningless "feedback" on it that nobody has any time to implement in any case because they're so busy with the other compliance mandates in the evaluation system. Administrators are running around buildings trying to get all the mandated observations in and going through dog-and-pony show observations to meet the mandates. Feedback doesn't have to come back to teachers for 90 days after the Danielson drive-by's, so some teachers don't even know what they're getting in their "mini-observations," which kinda throws the whole rationale from the ed deformers (Teachers need more frequent feedback!) out the window.

Performance tasks are being given that are meaningless to students but are being used to grade teachers - 20% of the total evaluation - "assessments" that take about a whole week out of instruction for both administrations and take weeks for teachers to grade. And if teachers are found not to have "grown" their students from September to now, well, that's a big problem, particularly if the same is shown on the state test score component of the evaluation system. You see, Governor Cuomo, he of the "I don't make education policy" statement, decreed that teachers who come up "ineffective" on both test score components MUST be declared "ineffective" as a teacher overall no matter how well they do on the rest of the evaluation.

And then there's my personal favorite abomination in the system - the fetishization of the lesson plan that in many schools is forcing teachers to spend hours a day writing plans that I described a few weeks ago like this:

Many teachers are still being told that lesson plans, while only "suggested," must contain specific criteria as "suggested" by administration (including AIM, learning objectives, standards met, timed activities, and assessments), must have all activities with exact times, must have assessments for all activities and all activity assessments must have expected outcomes/student responses in detail.


 Teachers are being told lesson plans are as important as the lessons themselves and even if an observed lesson is declared excellent during a Danielson drive-by, teachers can still be dinged "ineffective" or "developing" on the lesson plan component if the administrator decides the teacher's lesson plan does not live up to the "suggested" format.

The best way I can describe this to someone outside the education business is this - it's like seeing a movie and being wowed by it from start to finish but still declaring it a "bad" movie because the screenplay didn't live up to expectations.

Those are just three of the problems with the new evaluation system - there's also the Common Core test score "growth measure" problem for 3rd-8th grade teachers that Cuomo says he'll fix but so far hasn't and there's the test score problem for high school teachers, many of whom are being measured using two tests that don't actually align (e.g., PSAT and ELA Regents) or are being evaluated using a test given in a subject they don't actually teach.

In the end, everyone is exhausted and demoralized by this Kafkaesque system of compliance, one that is NOT helping anybody improve as a teacher because it is so soul-sucking and time-consuming to handle all of the compliance mandates and one that was never meant to help anybody improve as a teacher anyway because the people who created it believe all teachers suck and should be fired no matter what.

This system was created as a "gotcha!" system and that's how it has played out this first year in NYC.

If Mulgrew and Farina actually said teachers need to "embrace" this system, then students, teachers and even administrators are royally screwed because that means this insane system that is running everyone ragged and has sucked the lifeblood and spirit out of teaching and learning is going to continue.

Again, I ask: Was anybody there yesterday?

Did Mulgrew actually say this?

Did Farina?

Or is this Postie "journamilism" again, where they leave out something so important that it actually changes the meaning of the statements made?

I have a difficult time believing Farina, a career educator who worked as a principal for a long, long time, would think this system mad with compliance should be "embraced".

I also have a difficult time believing that Mulgrew, who in the past has "embraced" this system himself, is still doing so after all the criticism and cries for help the UFT is getting from teachers under assault all over the city via the ADVANCE evaluation system.

But after 13 years working in the NYCDOE and carrying a UFT member card, nothing would surprise me.


  1. Wait,
    "... one critics say was badly weakened when legislators voted to delay tying student test scores to teacher assessment for two years..."
    I don't remember this happening. I remember student test scores wouldn't count for student promotion and they Cuomo shot down the idea of a moratorium.
    I can't seem to find this in a Google search either.

    1. Cuomo said he and the legislature would address the issue a few weeks back - so far, they haven't. That's what I think the Post writer is referencing. But it's hard to know, since this part of this part of the story has nothing to do with the earlier part, it's just tossed in at the end.

  2. I was at the conference yesterday, RBE. Carmen and Mike said nothing of the sort about junk science evaluation being embraced during the moderation session. The topic of evaluations came up, but not in this degree at all. I took explicit notes while she was speaking.

    Also, as to my knowledge, it seemed to be a surprise (except for UFT staff) that Mayor De Blasio was going to show up and speak at the conference. I was not expecting that at all. He said nothing about embracing the evaluation. He did say, expect big changes to come in September and he will try to help bring some dignity back to the teaching profession.

    Scott Stringer also showed up and said the same thing. Tish James showed up at the end to speak.

    1. Thanks for that update, Music Lover. This is good to hear. This had the ear marks of Postie journamilism all over it, at least to my ear. I couldn't imagine Mulgrew and Farina saying this, not at this point in time, not in that venue especially. It made no sense.

      If you don't mind, I'll build an update post around your comment a bit later.

  3. Two months ago, the NYS Board of Regents put forth a sanctioned defense for teachers rated "ineffective." Those teachers could claim poor roll out of common core and new curricula (they didn't get books on time, etc.) Well the very same day, Cuomo BLASTED them for putting forth that "sanctioned" defense. The NYS Board of Regents then withdrew that defense for teachers and said they would re-evaluate it in April.(I haven't heard anything yet from them about it. But they did say they would be accepting public comment on the matter. I emailed ALL of them and several actually wrote back to me and agreed that there should be a two year moratorium for high stakes tests-teacher evals. But as of today (April 27th 2014) there is NO official word. And I want to add, according to the new evaluation LAW in NYS, if you are rated ineffective two years in a row, you have a MONDATORY 3020a termination hearing where YOU ARE ASSUMED TO BE INCOMPETENT and must prove otherwise. That is the real clincher, it used to be that THEY had to prove you were ineffective. So let me reiterate, you are assumed to be ineffective based on as little as test scores of your students from two consecutive years. NYC has hired MANY more hearing officers in anticipation of this, so by August of 2015, there will be MANY teachers getting fired. Everything you just read is FACT.

  4. Here are some links to back up what I am saying.

    This article really explains it.

  5. And if you wish to email the NYS Board of Regents to express what you think of the new teacher eval system and how teachers/students need more time to get used to it (two year moratorium at least) and modify the eval plan all together, here is a list of all the regent's emails... you can prob just cut and past it into your email you write to them...,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  6. I agree with everything you are saying. That was always the intent behind the reforms and APPR and it remains the intent. Judging from today's Regents meeting as written up by Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY, it remains the intent. But there are some shifting sands for these plutocrats and functionaries. You can see it happening tonight in Long Island where thousands are out to protest Cuomo. And parents all over the state are up in arms over the reform agenda. They're starting to lose the celebrities too - witness the Louis C.K. tweet on CCSS and testing. There is much more of the fight to go, but we're in better shape now than we were when Cuomo first came to power or even last year. We CAN win this!