Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, January 13, 2013

As Blowback Against Corporate Education Reform Agenda Gains Steam Across The U.S., The UFT Prepares To Surrender In NYC

B-LoEd Scene points out this morning all the places that the corporate education reform movement is meeting resistance:

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.


  1. And to see where the Unity attack on MORE is coming from this week see Ed in the Apple, Unity hack Peter Goodman. Notice the usual attempt to pin the opposition as offering a strike as the only alternative. Thank goodness Unity has New Action to act in a bi-partisan way. In the election New Action will take the same tack and offer themselves at the "responsible" opposition.

    "The opposition party in the union will oppose any settlement; they want to use the teacher evaluation issue as the key plank in the upcoming union elections. They argue, “Don’t settle, allow the State to cut $250 million, stand up, reverse the law, and consider a strike.” Of course cutting $250 million could lead to layoffs for union members, the extremely popular governor could sponsor, and undoubtedly pass anti-union bills, i.e., eliminating seniority requirements, and perhaps going after existing pension tiers, no matter, appeal to the frustrated and angry in the upcoming election – reminiscent of the Tea Party who would rather see the nation default on its debts and tumble into a depression than to act in a bipartisan fashion."

    There you have it --standing up = a strike. And MORE = tea party. Watch Unity and New Action lit go into mailboxes this election cycle saying just that.

  2. nyone , anyone...? Does it make sense to file an "exception" with PERB regarding the likely new evaluation system. Their site says we will have 15 days to file after the ruling. My argument would be based on the claim that I was hired under a completely different employment arrangement with different expectations, that the new evaluation system is untested, unscientific and extremely unstable with large margin of error. Also , the DOE roll out has been mismanaged. The timing is harmful because of the changes in testing for Common Core standards.

    Also any recommendations and concerns about employment lawyers? How do I go about findiong
    an excellent lawyer with a track record of success in casses against the NYC DOE?

  3. And one MORE thing: There can be no fight in NYC against ed deform until there is an organized force to oppose Unity because they will NEVER stand up. Not in their DNA. So I will trumpet this message. Until and unless massive numbers of people get involved from the schools to help build MORE - the only alternative --- we will sink into a hole. If MORE fails people would have to start from ground zero and by then there will be little of a public education system left to fight for and only a shell of a union with Unity in charge making their big bucks on the backs of whatever membership is left.

  4. After Weingarten poisoned the well in Newark you knew the UFT would follow lock step. This evaluation will be so bad that it should cost the Unity machine come election time. Not that Cavangh will win but she will receive a greater percentage of in service votes. Too bad for all the teachers who will be crucified by the tweed educrats and their cronies.

  5. What the hell is Mulgrew saying about stopping the myths? He is promoting the myths. Does that mean he is going to claim its a victory and shut up? The evaluation is system is crap. It is based on Junk Science. It is just like a game of Russian Roulette. It is harmful to the career of teachers. IT is complicated. It is extremely unfair. The same DOE that referred to the UFT as the NRA will use the evaluation system to destroy and defame teachers. Mulgrew who the hell are you to say that you are going to dispel myths about the new evaluation system. Mulgrew you really SUCK!

  6. FYI: One of the next things you will hear is this:
    If you do not approve an evaluation (APPR) the State may come in and "takeover". And they will declare all contracts null and void. We have heard it here in Buffalo.
    Now, our frontal lobes tell us and send evidence that the State and the Commissioner are not capable of running a large school district. After all, King John only has a few years in as a charter school loser, but anyway.
    However, other parts of our brains exist in a state of primordial fear that this scenario could come true.
    Get ready, NYC. Bloomberg seems to always want to show some muscle. At least here, we still have an elected Board of Ed. Local reformers constantly and publicly denigrate them, but we still got 'em.
    Good luck.