Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Glory of Apathy

Every day I read the news and I feel like I'm in the middle of a Fellini movie. Cuomo makes a big threat, that 50% of our evaluation will be based on test scores, and the other 50% will be observations. He also says that, because administrators tend to actually like the teachers they hire, that someone else must rate the teachers. He wanted to give outside administrators 35 of the 50%, but now it looks like, in the only concession to that plan, it may be a little less.

This happens while Cuomo's popularity is at its absolute low ebb. The Democratic Heavy Hearts Club declares, gee, we didn't want to do this, but what the hell we're gonna do it anyway. Assemblyman Ron Kim, who I watched give an inspirational pro-teacher speech in a Bayside UFT forum, drops his professed ideals and votes for it anyway. Mulgrew declares it a victory and thanks the folks who voted for this atrocity. Next month at the DA he'll speak to rousing cheers, because no one who wants the $749 for the glorious Buffalo trip is allowed to do differently.

Most teachers in NYC are not paying attention.  Everyone knows that Mulgrew and his people are gonna win the next election no matter what, and most working UFT members will once again not bother to fill out a ballot. NYSUT's President Karen Magee can keep giving mouth service to opt out, and she can oppose the Cuomo plan, but where the hell was she when the guy was actually running for governor? Where was she when Zephyr Teachout wanted the Working Families nomination? And where will she be when Mulgrew decides he needs someone more cooperative in 2017?

There are distinct advantages of not paying attention. You don't have to fret over what evaluation system they're using this year. All you have to do is read the UFT guide on whatever the hell it is that's supposed to be good teaching this year. Then you do it and hope you don't get fired. After all, as Cuomo said, lots of teachers haven't been fired. In fact this is actually the first year UFT teachers can face 3020a over this, and we won't know until September just how many that will be.

Of course, one measure of how good this system is would be how many teachers were rated ineffective year one and then did better year two. That would reflect how many teachers were actually helped by this system. If a lot of them were, perhaps it means the system worked at some level. Of course, not putting people under the amazing stress of having their jobs at risk might have worked out better. Who knows? Certainly not anyone who thinks it's a good idea to change APPR in NYC three years in a row. That's a terrible idea. Just as you get accustomed to a new system, it's history, garbage, out the window and on the trash heap.

For the majority of UFT members, the ones who don't get involved, they've spent a lot less of their valuable time focused on this. They've been home spending time with their families, catching up on TV shows, visiting the sights, and enjoying themselves a lot more than those of us who've been reading the papers, going to demonstrations, and calling our elected representatives.

As long as most people aren't going to actually do anything, Cuomo can do whatever he likes and his deep-pocketed supporters will be happy. As long as most people aren't going to do anything, NYSUT and UFT can go to conventions, make speeches, and enable Cuomo and his BFFs to continue with their destructive plans. The only downside, really, is that our kids will have to suffer through test prep instead of receiving an education. That, and their job opportunities will be severely limited once they graduate from test prep.

But if you can live with that, then, hey, roll out the hammock and take a nap. No sense getting all in a tizzy over things you aren't gonna bother to change anyway.
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