Sunday, December 02, 2012

I Do Not Like this V A M, I Do Not Like it, Sam I Am

I'm not much for conspiracy theories. Yet I read that the new Common Core may lower test scores, I see widespread pressure for the UFT to adopt a junk science evaluation system, and I wonder whether or not it's sheer coincidence. It's pretty clear to me, when corporate astroturf groups like Students First NY and E4E (and whatever else they're calling themselves this week) push the new system, that it won't benefit anyone but those looking to privatize education. I can fervently hope the UFT leadership declines to give in, but frankly I can't anticipate any way they could render it workable under the state law they helped negotiate.

The fact that I may have as little as 20% crap in my evaluation is hardly reassuring. In fact, given that neither New York State nor Common Core bothers to differentiate between native English speakers and ESL students, I'm kind of concerned about all my ESL-teaching brethren (and sisteren, of course).  Given we live in a country that doesn't think we should test Common Core before enacting it in over 40 states, a country that has imposed junk science evaluation on many of those same states, I have little faith they're going to do anything remotely rational.

Is this the trifecta for the lowlifes who run astroturf groups? Will they be able to fire hundreds of teachers for no reason, just like they did in DC? Certainly that's one of their goals.

And while I understand the UFT rationale, that we must appear reasonable, it's simply not reasonable to agree to anything that has no basis in theory or practice. That's true even if the NY Post writes bad things about us. In fact, the NY Post will continue to write bad things about us no matter what we do. After all, we are union, anathema to every thing Rupert Murdoch believes in, and tries to make America believe in. In fact, the Post liked the UFT for about five minutes following the miserable 2005 contract, but went back to bashing us almost immediately thereafter.

To my mind, it's a pretty good bet that anything the NY Post, Bill Gates, Chris Christie, or Eli Broad likes is not good for working teachers. And please, don't give me that nonsense that these people put students first. Denigrating working conditions for teachers, or indeed anyone, will not remotely help the kids we serve. They will grow up in the job market we leave them, and it behooves us as teachers, as parents, as responsible adults, to leave it better off that the way we found it.

This task falls particularly hard on our shoulders, as the last bastion of vibrant unionism in these United States. Either we're going to improve things, or we're going to let them get so bad we will need to relive the 20th century, and the fight all over again for the rights of working people, the ones we surrendered hoping for Rupert Murdoch's approval.

I believe in union, and there is nothing I would like more than to absolutely support mine in everything they do. However, leadership is going to have to help out a little bit if that's what they want from me---and from all of us.
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