Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Evaluation Trap--What's the UFT Planning?

It's been a while since UFT President Michael Mulgrew went to Albany and negotiated a statewide evaluation system. Part of that agreement was that value-added testing would comprise 20%, 25%, 40%, or even 100% of a teacher rating. It depends who you ask, and perhaps also when you ask.

The debate over percentages does not much interest me. I'm firmly persuaded that the optimal percentage of VAM in a teacher rating is zero. UFT people I speak to say, well, what if you have a crazy principal who gives you a U for no reason? And yes I know there are principals like that. But I fail to see how diluting that crazy principal's rating with junk science by 20, 25, 40, or whatever percentage will help anything. Why aren't we talking about removing crazy principals rather than evaluating teachers out of work for no reason?

Here's the thing--a UFT rep came to my school last year and heard a whole lot of complaints about having gone two years without a contract, and three without a raise. This rep told us not to worry, that we'd get our contract. The rep told us UFT leadership was very smart, and that any new evaluation system would have to come in the form of a contract. While I will not personally vote for any contract that contains junk science, no matter what sort of money comes with it, I could appreciate that argument.

However, at Gotham Schools I repeated the argument, and Peter Goodman, AKA Ed in the Apple, suggested I misheard. Goodman states that evaluations can be independent of the contract. Why would he be singing that particular song at this time? Could it be the UFT is getting ready to have working teachers judged by junk science and will not even bother demanding a contract in return?

I have some advice for the Unity Caucus--if you wish to maintain your stranglehold on UFT politics, don't even think of agreeing to an evaluation system without procuring, at the very least, the 8% raise all other city employees got between 2008-2010. And don't forget that it's now 2012, and screwing the other unions by accepting a big fat zero for this year is just not the thing to do.

Again, I will not vote for any contract that includes junk science. I find it reprehensible that teachers will be fired as a result of invalid measurements.  One teacher fired for no reason is one teacher too many. And hundreds? Based on junk science? Too much for me.

Selling teachers down the river so the city can get money to do more reformy stuff is insane. That's not why anyone became a teacher. I certainly hope Goodman is "smoking something," as Sandy Feldman said people were before her first double zero contract went down to defeat. I hit maximum two years earlier because it was renegotiated. We, the teachers, can say no to contract.

And they, the leadership, should say no to junk science. At the absolute bare minimum, they must demand a contract before agreeing to this nonsense. I still won't support it, but at least we won't look like a bunch of morons with no negotiating skill whatsoever.
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