Monday, May 24, 2010

Now With Only Half the Crap!

Incredibly, that's pretty much the line UFT central has been using to promote their latest evaluation deal.  Only 20% of your evaluation will be determined by standardized tests, using an unproven and highly questionable technique called "value added."  (Another 20% will be rated using local tests, portfolios, or some other thing.)  This is a good thing, they say, because it could be 50%.  In fact, that's what it is in Colorado, and AFT President Randi Weingarten supported the bill that enabled it.

And that's not all the venerable Ms. Weingarten enabled in Colorado:

Under the legislation, which garnered bipartisan support, teachers would be evaluated every year and students' academic progress would count for half the instructors' overall rating. Elementary- and high-school teachers would need three consecutive years of positive evaluations to earn tenure, which guarantees them an appeals process before they can be fired. 

Educators rated "ineffective" two years in a row would be stripped of tenure protection and revert to probationary status. They could earn back job protection after three straight years of satisfactory evaluations.

UFT teachers already work without tenure protection in the Green Dot charter school, among others.   With an openness to agreements like these, tenure could come to mean little or nothing to public school teachers as well.  The Unity/ New Action coalition that brought us leaders like Ms. Weingarten has now given us President Michael Mulgrew, who opted to negotiate this deal in secret and have the UFT Delegate Assembly rubber-stamp it for him.

The argument I've been hearing, incredibly, is it could have been twice as crappy as it was.  The truth is, while the agreement may indeed contain half the crap, or even less, crap is not on the short list of what today's teachers need most.  I know, because not a single teacher has told me so, and I talk to teachers all the time.

Perhaps union presidents should consider doing the same.

Thanks to Fred Klonsky
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