It appears the blowback against corporate privatization and for profit education is ON. From the great state of Washington teachers at Garfield High have formally refused to administer another useless standardized test that will once again be used to evaluate teachers, a purpose for which it was not created. And in nearby Ballard High, another Seattle school, teachers have announced that they will be joining their colleagues at Garfield in refusing to participate in the stupidity of administering a weaponized standardized testing instrument.
Closer to home, Hamburg NY teachers have likewise refused to sign off on the APPR mandated by the Ommissioner of NYSED with a $450,000.00 blackmail attached to it. The Superintendent and Board took their sweet old time in settling in for negotiations, an obvious ploy to limit the amount of time left for negotiations hoping to cash in on Mr. King's attempt to make teachers who stand up for themselves look like they are throwing away money meant "for the children." Hamburg's APPR left any final say on a disputed teacher evaluation completely in the hands of the Super to break the tie. As professionals with a scrap of self respect should do, Hamburg teachers answered with a No in Thunder (nearly 75% of them voted it down).
And in a few days something tells me Buffalo teachers are going to find themselves alongside our brothers and sisters in Hamburg when push turns to shove and the lil Commissioner's ticking clock stops ticking without successfully bullying BTF into signing off on yet another a lousy deal that's intended to facilitate the widespread termination of teachers no matter what their skill level or expertise.
This is the future of ed reform in America friends. It's time David started to loosen up and gather up a few stones. Goliath has had it his way long enough.
Combine this with CTU's victory against Rahm Emanuel in Chicago and the ouster of charter shill Tony Bennett in Indiana. Add the steady gains being made in exposing the true agenda of these phoney ass venture philanthropists and their vulture educapitalism and I bet I could find a physics teacher who'd agree this looks like momentum. It's on bitches.
Not here in NYC it isn't.
Here in NYC, Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, sent out an email Friday telling teachers the union was back to negotiating the APPR evaluation system with the NYCDOE even though just a few weeks ago the union was claiming they could not negotiate with the DOE until Bloomberg and Walcott addressed the issue of how the new system would be rolled out.
That issue was never addressed, of course, but the two sides are back to negotiating and are expected to come to an agreement before the governor's January 17 deadline to make an agreement or lose state funding passes.
Mulgrew said in his email that the union will fight any "myths and misinformation" that spread after the union comes to an agreement with the DOE over the evaluation system, which I read as the UFT will attack anybody who doesn't say the new APPR system scrapes the skies and is the bestest thing to happen to NYC teachers since the odious '05 teachers contract.
So while resistance gains steam across the country - even in Texas, the birthplace of the high stakes testing movement - here in NYC, Michael Mulgrew and the UFT leadership plan on capitulating to an egregious evaluation system that will use
1. Value added and growth measurements, otherwise known as "junk science," with margins of error somewhere between 52% and 87%
2. A classroom observation rubric so complex that no one, including the rubric author herself, could get an "effective" rating from it
3. A Student Learning Objectives process that will add hundreds of hours of paperwork to already maxed-out teacher workloads every semester and
4. A rating system that can see a teacher rated "effective" in all three parts of the system - the state test part, the local assessment part and the classroom observation part - and STILL be rated "ineffective" overall
What the UFT is doing here is what is known in Randi Weingarten's vernacular as "solution-oriented unionism" - capitulating to the corporate forces that want to impose top-down "reforms" in order to fire as many teachers as possible, close as many schools as possible, and turn as much education money over to Randi's corporate pals like Rupert Murdoch and the Tisch Family as possible.
I am heartened to see resistance forming all over this country to these corporate education reform forces.
I am heartened to see that people are finally realizing that we cannot collaborate with these corporate education reform forces because they are out for the total destruction and privatization of the public education system.
It is a pity that the leadership of the largest local teachers union in the country - the United Federation of Teachers - cannot be a part of the resistance rather than a part of the defeatist mentality that there is nothing we can do but try and keep our heads above water while they try and drown us.
But that's how it's always been with the UFT since I started teaching 12 years ago and I suspect that's how it always will be until this leadership is either voted out of power or lose their jobs because the union becomes a meaningless entity for NYC teachers facing right-to-work rules.
Diane Ravitch posted the following from the head of the Rochester union last night:
Adam Urbanski, head of the Rochester (NY) Teachers Union, offers this advice:
“In his letter from the Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King wrote, ‘There are just laws and unjust laws. And we are obligated to disobey the unjust laws.’ A nationwide movement of creative insubordination may be the only way to put a stop to the injustice now imposed on America’s public schools, teachers and especially students.”
Here's the advice we heard from Michael Mulgrew on Friday:
If an agreement is reached, we will need to do a lot of work very quickly to stop the spread of myths and misinformation.
Notice the difference?
While many people in the rest of the country are fighting corporate education reform, the UFT leadership plans on capitulating to it here in NYC and fighting any resistance either inside or outside the union that calls the leadership on this capitulation and points out the horrors of the evaluation agreement that they make.
Isn't it time we get a union leadership that is capable of protecting its members rather than protecting its own interests and leaving the rank and file to the reform predators?
Isn't it time we here in NYC join the fight against corporate education reform, especially the high stakes standardized testing, rather than capitulate to it?
UPDATE: Unity hack Ed in the Apple compares the opposition to APPR to the Tea Party.
Just as the UFT sent Leo Casey out on the attack against Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris last February over their APPR criticism, now Ed in the Apple is here to tell us all not to worry, that APPR will not stand up to litigation but anybody opposed to it is a Tea Partier anyway and should be treated as such.
Clearly even the clueless UFT leadership understands they are going to have some problems after the membership gets a gander at how bad this new evaluation system is going to be.
And so the Vichy leadership is revving up the spin machine and going on the attack even before the evaluation system agreement is announced.
It must really be a bad agreement for them to pull out the Tea Party slander this early in the attack.