Monday, March 04, 2013

Why Is Unity/ New Action Waving White Flag Without a Fight?

It's remarkable to see where we've come over the last decade with Mayor4Life Bloomberg in charge. We have a Board of Education in which he's got 8 of 13 votes, and it's served as a rubber stamp for the richest and most reformy guy in the richest city in the world. Worse, Unity/ New Action leadership endorsed mayoral dictatorship not once, but twice. If  I'm not mistaken, the UFT offered measures to improve the system, but then chose to support it anyway when those measures were not included.

Now we're facing an evaluation system substantially based on junk science. Though the crisis of teacher evaluation is wholly manufactured by reformy types like our esteemed mayor, Unity/ New Action bought into it and decided we needed to participate in Bill Gates' MET program, designed to mold Bill's vision of junk science into reality. We were promised that junk science ratings would be completely confidential so that we could ignore them in the privacy of our own homes. Instead, Bloomberg broke yet another promise to the union and successfully urged papers to sue to make them public. As a result, Murdoch's Post blared headlines about the worst teachers in the city, based on ratings with 50-80% margins of error.

Now, Unity/ New Action boasts that we have less junk science than other municipalities. This, supposedly is an accomplishment to be proud of. Their reps tell us that maybe we'll earn a good junk science grade and that it will therefore be tougher for a principal to fire us for no reason. This is akin to advising us to smoke because we may not get cancer.

If you don't see VAM as enough of a cancer to worry you, there's more. A column in today's Gotham Schools quotes people suggesting the end of step pay may be inevitable. What does this suggest? It suggests, of course, that the reformy wet dream of merit pay may be coming to NYC. Now it's not surprising to hear reformy types making such suggestions, so that in itself is not altogether worrisome.

What is disturbing is when Peter Goodman, the only significant Unity/ New Action voice on the blogosphere, agrees:

 The days of automatic step and seniority increase may morph into other negotiated metrics.Surviving will require nimble union leadership.
In case it's not clear to you what that implies, this is the very first hint that Unity/ New Action is prepared to accept merit pay.  That, in essence,  suggests that those who are lucky with previously negotiated junk science will get paid more than those who are not. In case you're wondering, merit pay has never worked anywhere. Apparently, reformy types find that less than persuasive, and it would appear Unity/ New Action doesn't care either. 
The fact that PERB has previously insisted on the pattern is of no consequence either. Non-educator unions received compensation increases in excess of 8% in the 2008-2010 round of pattern bargaining.  So it appears "nimble union leadership" entails giving in to not only the abysmal 2005 contract, mayoral control, itinerant ATR teachers, people being fired on the basis of junk science, but also merit pay.

So here is my message to the Unity/ New Action monopoly, and it's very simple--working teachers have been without a compensation increase for four years. What we need is not a tip, but a raise.

And in case it's not sufficiently obvious, said raise should not be based on junk science.
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