Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, September 13, 2013

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?


  1. It's a full employment program for lawyers, for when the first art, music or gym teacher is rated ineffective because of student exams in other areas, they're going to sue, as they should.

    Mulgrew should face hostile questioning about this disgraceful sell-out no matter where he goes.

    1. I agree, Michael. Kinda like what they do in the Parliament - but everywhere!

  2. It's hard to get rid of a well-oiled machine that has been running this union for decades without having money to fight them. MORE and ICE never went after the money to get out mailers and put Julie out there so every district could meet and greet and putting ads in newspapers. There was talk about it, but it never occurred. Yes, she can win in 3 years, but with a horrible eval system and contract in place, many good teachers will suffer and possibly be fired. MORE needs to start campaigning today--and just handing out flyers is not going to make a dent. They need fundraisers because the biggest thing they have to fight is apathy. And Unity is hoping the apathy keeps growing since more teachers will refuse to vote.

    1. My sense is that as more teachers get targeted, they are not growing apathetic. They are growing scared - which makes them more likely to be open to an alternative. Before this, if you kept your head down, you might be able to skate. But nobody can do that anymore.

  3. My understanding is the MOSL test data plank is written in stone-state law until 2016?

    If,so, what is Mulgrew talking about? I don't believe that can be changed.

    1. It can be changed through contractual agreement between the UFT and the DOE/mayor. Obviously the current one is going to change anything. A new one can agree to changes - but they are subject to King's approval. There is no way anything is going to get passed King that isn't similar to the "gotcha" system we already have. Barring a new law by the legislature signed into law by Cuomo(also an improbability), we are stuck with this turkey until the end of 2016-2017.

  4. Repeal should be our goal. Who cares if it has little chance of succeeding at the state level now. Also, every ineffective rating should be challenged in court.

    1. I agree completely. No tinkering with this thing - that plays the game on their playing field (i.e., test scores are valid measures of teacher effectiveness, everything that is valuable in what a teacher does can be measured "objectively" using a 22 domain rubric.) Rather, repeal it completely.

      Unfortunately Cuomo and King are going to stand in the way of that. Silver is now beholden to Cuomo post-Lopez scandal (Cuomo could have called for his head, chose to defend him instead), so we will get no help from him. And the Repubs are still on board as well, even as they hold State Senate hearings to give the appearance that they're really listening to parents and teachers.

      So we have a lot more work to do to bring this down.

      But the absurdity of this thing, the absolute unworkability, plays in our favor. As story after story comes out of teachers getting dinged "ineffective" based on test scores of students they didn't teach (either in subjects they're licensed in or, in some cases, not), that will work to turn the public against the system.

      Cuomo calls this thing "scientific" and "objective." The key to bringing it down is to show the public it is neither - rather it is "random" and "destructive."