Monday, December 03, 2012

What Should the Next UFT Commercial Look Like?

Hi, I'm Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. Recently there's been a lot of news about money the city may receive. It could be up to 300 million dollars, according to what I've been reading in the papers. That's a lot of money, and it would be a shame for the city to lose it.

This money is contingent on an evaluation system for teachers. This system would judge teachers based on the test scores of their students. That sounds like a good idea at first blush, but all available research indicates that there is, as yet, no valid measure of teacher quality based on test scores. In fact, teachers regarded as great have been fired in DC, and denied tenure right here in New York. Believe it or not, one woman who was named teacher of the year got an unsatisfactory rating based on her test scores.

Despite what you may have heard, we very much want your kids to have great teachers. The UFT has always supported higher standards for teachers, and we will continue to do so. But this particular method will cause teachers to lose their jobs at random, and it's tough enough on our teachers right now.

NYPD, FDNY and all city unions got an 8% raise between 2008-2010. Teachers haven't had a contract since 2009, and haven't had a raise in four years. Now we are reasonable. When Mayor Bloomberg asked us to come in and make up time lost for Hurricane Sandy, we immediately agreed.

But now the mayor wants us to agree to an evaluation system that's inaccurate and baseless. That's a problem. He says he wants great teachers, but he doesn't even want to pay the ones he has for the ever-increasing cost of living. Yes, we are reasonable. But it should not be us, alone, working indefinitely without a contract, without a raise, and subject to arbitrary dismissal for factors that may be completely out of our control.

We are, and always have been ready to come to the table and negotiate. But negotiation is a two-way street, Mr. Mayor. If you truly value teachers, be ready to give them at least what you gave everyone else. If that's your intention, we will sit down, and we will work out this evaluation issue like the reasonable people you know us to be.

Gracias a Jorge
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