Saturday, April 13, 2013

Advice from UFT

All chapter leaders should engage principals on all aspects of a new teacher evaluation system. You should focus on the fact that visits by the talent coaches should be supportive, not intimidating for teachers, and you should establish the ground rules and advocate for comprehensive professional development so our members will be ready when the new system is implemented in September.

Well, that's something to think about. Problematic is the fact that the system does not actually exist.

Of course no teacher wants a "gotcha" system. Many feel that's what we have now. And the UFT has stood in the forefront with those who wish to "reform" it, like Bill Gates. We worked on the MET study. We participated in the project that led to teachers being publicly vilified in the pages of the Post. This was but one by-product of our much-vaunted "seat at the table." Who could've anticipated that Joel Klein would break his word and urge news organizations to make public what he promised would not be made public?

That question was ironic, in case it isn't already clear.

And now that we've bought the myth, propagated by the likes of Klein, that there is some horrendous bad teacher epidemic, we've signed onto the evaluation system. And we, the UFT, are going to protect teachers from being targeted. You see, there will now be objective evidence of good or bad teaching, in the form of value-added reports. Never mind that they've never actually worked anywhere, or that this rollout coincides with that of the Common Core, which is widely believed to cause huge drops in test scores. Let's just ignore that, and fight "gotcha" practices.

And yet, why would the likes of Bill Gates push VAM if it weren't a "gotcha" practice to begin with?

It would be nice to have a principal stand up and say, "Even though your value-added stats are terrible, I think you're a great teacher. I'm giving you a good rating anyway." That may indeed happen. But I'm pretty sure if it were to happen on any regular basis you'd be looking at a short-term principal.

So what do we say when negotiating the system that doesn't yet exist with the principal? How do we make an agreement that won't be precluded by the system, likely decided upon by super-reformy John King?

It's ridiculous enough that an education community is rallying around a system that has no scientific basis whatsoever. Even more ridiculous is negotiating how we're going to handle a system about which we know nothing beyond its sheer and utter lack of validity.
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