being more important, echoing the AFT's partner, Bill Gates. Bloomberg, whose mayoral control we've supported twice for reasons that elude me utterly, gets up and says he'd rather fire half of working teachers and have 70 kids in a class.
Class sizes in NYC have remained static since I started teaching in 1984, and I have no idea how long before that. When we bring that up to UFT reps, they say class size reductions would have to come in lieu of raises. Bloomberg has made agreements, NY State has made agreements, and class size should be going down. But when the city fails to replace 10, 000 retirees, when teacher salary is a building budget issue, and when kids fail to simply leave and accommodate the Mayor's plans, class sizes consistently rise.
Meanwhile, we run around debating the evaluation system, and both AFT and UFT are actively engaged in precisely how to implement a system they presume to be improved by virtue of junk science. The only selling point of such a system is the ability to fire more teachers, and I can't personally understand how that benefits anyone. Unless, of course, you're Mike Bloomberg and consider it a point of pride to announce, "We fired more teachers."
This is because of the random nature of junk science. You may snag bad teachers, but you're just as likely to snag good ones. At a recent meeting a DR got very angry at me when I pointed that out. He said that if it was junk science, that was good because maybe he'd get good scores and they'd save him. The union contends that the current system is flawed because principals have pretty much carte blanche on ratings.
So for principals, if that DR gets a good rating, maybe it will be tougher to dismiss him. On the other hand, if he gets a bad rating, it could make things easier on the principal. "Oh boy, I can finally fire that guy." The factor that gets no play here is the actual judgment of the principal. If the principal is nuts, he gets to fire someone for no reason. And if the principal is not nuts, he gets pressured to fire someone who's a good teacher.
A UFT Delegate from my building likened the argument about maybe getting good VAM grades to, "I'm going to start smoking, because maybe I won't get cancer." However, the addition of a virtual carcinogen to our rating system is not, in my view, the best of all possible worlds.
So, as to smaller classes or increased pay, the answer is simple. As long as the national debates on teacher evaluation, bar exams, and other such nonsense meander on, NYC teachers, students and parents get neither. Mike Bloomberg is laughing all the way to the bank, and why shouldn't he? Likely as not he owns the thing, and neither he nor his BFFs have to pay taxes to support either of these frivolities. For him, it's a win-win.
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