Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, January 16, 2015

Here's How The UFT And NYSUT Can Frame An Argument Against Cuomo's Teacher Evaluation Reforms

Arthur Goldstein, chapter leader at Francis Lewis High School, posted the following on his blog this morning about UFT President Mike Mulgrew's Q&A with UFT delegates this week:

Mulgrew says we will not fight over evaluation, because then Cuomo will contend we didn't want it. This is an odd position, in my view, because there's now a movement, supported by our insane governor and private-schooled Merryl Tisch, to make state measures 40%, and to rate any teacher ineffective who doesn't meet the junk science standard. A large tenet of the Revive NYSUT campaign to overthrow leadership was that Iannuzzi had initiated the APPR law. They always seemed to forget that he did so with the express cooperation of Mike Mulgrew. The problem, of course, is that teachers really don't want a junk science evaluation system. Evidently, what teachers want is not a factor we consider during a substantive battle.

Now I dunno why Mulgrew says we the teachers unions can't fight Cuomo on the teacher evaluation issue and win.

As Arthur points out in his post, Cuomo and the Regents Chancellor are looking to make 40% of a teacher's evaluation based on state test scores, and any teacher who comes up "ineffective" on that part of the evaluation MUST be declared "ineffective" overall.

In addition, Cuomo and Regents Chancellor Tisch want to have two consecutive "ineffective" ratings trigger automatic incompetency charges against teachers, have those teachers pulled from the classroom and slated to be fired in an expedited hearing process.

Currently a very fine and well-respected teacher from Great Neck, Long Island is suing the state because she was declared "ineffective" on the state test component.

Carol Burris, principal at South Side High School, tells us

Sheri Lederman, is a gifted and beloved fourth-grade teacher in Great Neck, New York. Her principal adores her and relies on her to help mentor her colleagues. Over twice as many of her students have met the state standard than the average percentage for the rest of the state. Sheri is also a scholar. She received the 2012 H. Alan Robinson Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award for her research on how 10-year-olds learn science. Yet her growth score based on the results of student Common Core standardized tests found her to be an “ineffective” teacher.

Under the present teacher evaluation system in New York, known as APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review), she is not in danger of losing her job.   She was rated effective overall due to the points she received on the local measure of her students’ achievement, combined with those based on the observation of her teaching. But that will change if Chancellor Merryl Tisch has her way. Sheri would be rated ineffective overall, and one more such rating would get her fired.

 New York Chancellor Merryl Tisch has announced her New Years resolution—revise the teacher evaluation system so that Common Core 3-8 test scores can trump all. In a letter to Andrew Cuomo’s aide, Jim Malatras, she explains how she (speaking for herself, not necessarily the Board of Regents) wants APPR to change.

Lederman is suing the State of New York over the "ineffective" rating on the state test component.  According to Burris:

Judge Richard Platkin of the New York State Supreme Court  directed the State Education Department to show cause on January 16, as to why the rating of Dr. Lederman should not be declared arbitrary and capricious — but the state requested a delay until March 20 because, apparently, officials were still assembling their data.

Now it seems to me if you're a teachers union leader and your members are facing a change in an evaluation system that will make test scores 40% of the entire rating, but 100% if the teacher is found "ineffective" on just that 40% component, you have a ready-made TV ad in the story of Sheri Lederman and her "ineffective" rating.

Cut an ad telling Lederman's story, then end it with Lederman's principal saying, "If Governor Cuomo gets his way on this evaluation reform, Sheri Lederman's students may lose a wonderful teacher who exhibits excellence in every facet of her teaching - all because the governor and the Regents Chancellor want to put in place a deeply flawed, error-riddled rating system."

Want to bet that kind of ad would be powerful and turn the debate from "We MUST fire bad teachers!" to "Hey, wait a minute - is this system Cuomo's looking to use going to get rid of excellent teachers like Sheri Lederman?"

Want to bet that kind of argument frame will appeal to parents?

So why aren't NYSUT and the UFT cutting such an ad?

Are they really interested in beating back the coming assault on teachers from Cuomo?


  1. The so called union is primarily interested in enabling the education reform movement.

  2. How do Art, Music, Dance, and Theatre teachers play into the 40%? How about the Physical a Education teachers? Other non regents teachers? How does the 40% state effect these several thousand teachers?

  3. The last comment is one of the main parts of our problem. Instead of saying this is a great idea we should organize around, a teacher who probably teaches a non Regents HS subject asks how he/she and his/her colleagues will be rated. They will take the school Regents scores probably. Case closed. Stop worrying about yourself and think of everyone. It would be a great start to a real push back.

  4. Anon 10:25pm. I am a phys ed HS teacher. I was given the choice of which subject to link to last year. Of course I looked at the overall scores for my school for the past several years and going that the English Regents was highest at around 84% passing. I linked to them and scored very high. Research your schools history on all regents subjects and link to that subject, which is part of the rules for non regents teachers. It's probably English. Do not allow your administration to make the decision for you. You are allowed to link to any subject You choose.

  5. I am an elementary PE teacher and the poster above is correct. I was able to link my evaluation score to the overall math scores of my school. (The students in my school do better in math than language arts due to the high ELA population)

  6. Why am I getting a breathless email from my local detailing the 15% savings Martin $250,000 a yr Messner can get me on my car insurance? Why do these jackasses like their fairy godmother Weingarten have their noses to every other grindstone on the planet while ignoring the imminent threats against the people they are well paid to represent?

  7. The above posters are correct with maneuvering non regents teacher state measure scores to a highly rated area (English). Unfortunately for actual regents subjects, those teachers are linked to their own area. They have no choices. Like I posted 3 YEARS AGO, if you teach in a shit school with shit kids in a shit neighborhood, you're doomed. If you happen to teach in a decent neighborhood where there are some nicer students with actual parents, you are saved. Doesn't matter how great/bad if a teacher you are. It's all ABOUT THE STUDENTS. You can be the best teacher in NYC at a shit school where your scores will find you Ineffective. You can also be the worst teacher in NYC at a great school and the kids will carry you. Bottom line: make sure you're at a decent school, average - above average.

  8. The madness of the UFT and AFT leadership centers around the perversion called betrayal and sellout. The AFT is funded by Bill Gates and takes its marching orders from Arne Duncan and to the department of education in Washington. They are a toxic enemy of public school education and the teachers who work tirelessly on behalf of public school students.

  9. Cuomo is a feckless uber-governor, a tireless fighter for homeland nazism, and a feckless corporate stooge.