Thursday, May 01, 2014

Mr. Mulgrew Writes Me a Letter About the Contract

There is an agreement on a new teacher contract between the city and the UFT, one that gets us the 8% that's eluded us all these years, and establishes some crap pattern for the following years. Having gone so very long without a raise, it's hard to imagine UFT voting against it. There are, as always, concerns. There is the slippery slope of saving money on health care, and it appears our uniformed brothers and sisters have concerns about that they may be funding teacher raises with health givebacks.

...opposition has surfaced from leaders of the city’s uniformed unions, who fear they may be asked for health care givebacks to fund teacher raises.
We'll see what happens with that, and Mulgrew says he needs the approval of the Municipal Labor Committee.

City Hall suddenly began pressing late last week for a quick pact with the teachers after weeks of leisurely bargaining, sources told the Daily News.

Perhaps this is so they can establish the crap pattern.

Then there's my biggest issue, that of ATR teachers, which, if this is to be believed, have something less than a rosy future:

The deal also includes reforms to various rules, including changes to the “Absent Teacher Reserve pool,” where teachers are sent if they can’t find work in city classrooms. The new contract will include rules that allow the city to permanently fire teachers if, for instance, they are twice returning to the pool for poor performance by principals. 

The fact is, we are all ATRs, or on the verge of becoming ATRs. Though Bill de Blasio does not appear to be insane, that doesn't mean he will be mayor forever, and who's to say another Bloomberg won't buy his way in? Firing people for no good reason has not worked well in Chicago, and will not likely work well anywhere. If this proves to be true I will not support this contract.

And there's a hat tip to legal expert Campbell Brown.

The rules also expand the definition of sexual misconduct, which will make it easier for the city to fire teachers for actions like inappropriate touching or texting, officials said.

Once again we are solving a non-existent emergency.  Every time we concede to reformy types for no reason it lends credence to their causes and degrades our profession.

There are other things, right from Mulgrew's email, that have me shaking my head.

The union won major changes, including a focus on eight instead of 22 Danielson components and a better system for rating teachers in non-tested subjects.

I have heard directly from union sources that they'd insisted on focusing on all of Danielson, and that making them focus on all aspects was a great victory. Apparently making them focus on fewer factors is also a victory. We shall see what happens with non-tested subjects. And I'm very curious as to whether we'll see fewer evaluations where they aren't needed.

We succeeded in eliminating time-consuming teaching artifacts.

Again, union sources have told me directly that the inclusion of artifacts was a great union victory. Apparently the exclusion is also a victory. When the union does one thing, it's a great victory. When they do the opposite, it's another great victory. With a philosophy like that, you can't lose. And with hundreds of loyalty-oath signing reps who'd vote for a cheese sandwich if asked, you really can't lose.

How can you trust people who tell you they win when they do one thing, then turn around and tell you they win when they do precisely the opposite?

Moving forward, fellow educators — rather than consultants or other third parties — will serve as the "validators" brought in the next year to review the work of a teacher rated ineffective.

You will likely recall that the "validators," the ones who would decide whether or not the burden of proof would lie with the DOE to establish your incompetence, were also labeled as a great union victory. Now, though this practice has never even been tested, with no evidence whatsoever, it is deemed to be improved. I would not wish to ever sit in judgement of my colleagues as to whether or not they would receive due process. I would question the motives of any colleague who would.

New teacher leadership positions, with extra pay, will foster idea-sharing by allowing exemplary teachers to remain teachers while extending their reach to help others.

Merit pay, anyone? I know, the last failed merit pay program wasn't a merit pay program either.

Under the tentative deal, collaborative school communities will have new opportunities to innovate outside the confines of the UFT contract and DOE regulations. A new program known as Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) will give educators in participating schools greater voice in decision-making and a chance to experiment with new strategies.

In other words, no contract for you. I am personally dubious of anything that is "for excellence," as there is an implication the rest of us are not. That's why terms like that are chosen, and it's disappointing to see the union taking part in it.

The proposed agreement also obligates the DOE to provide educators in core subjects with appropriate curriculum, something which we have long fought for.

And I'm sure the geniuses at DOE will do a much better job than, say, you or your colleagues, who most certainly don't know your students better than the Tweedies.

Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña are committed to returning joy to New York City's classrooms and respect to its educators. 

Personally, I will feel no joy whatsoever if a single ATR teacher or counselor loses her job. And neither should anyone, from President Michael Mulgrew all the way down to lowly teachers like you and me.

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