I recently got an email from Punchy Mike Mulgrew informing me that 12,000 members filled out their one-question poll and preferred Neverending Professional Development to 37.5 minute Small Group Tutoring. Apparently there was no choice C: None of the Above. Nor was there a spot to make suggestions. Therefore 3 out of 4 UFT members want to stay 80 minutes after school on Monday and 70 on Tuesday to accomplish Whatever Is Done on those days.
I guess it's good to put out polls like that. It makes it look like you care what people think. I just took a poll from NYSUT asking me about the NYSESLAT test, which I administered. It asked how I would like the test to be weighted. Should speaking, listening, reading or writing be weighted more or equally? I wrote equally, and NYSUT asked me why. I said because the test had no validity, it made no difference how the parts were weighted, and they left me no option to write any such thing.
I don't usually give A, B, C, D questions on tests I write. Maybe sometimes I'll put a few, but no more than 20%. I usually want to see what students can write themselves. I never, ever, do true and false. It's pretty ridiculous when you have a 50% chance of getting it right. When you get surveys with sorely limited choices, they're not really asking you what you think. They're giving you limited choices and suggesting one is acceptable. That's not necessarily the case.
In the case of the UFT poll, it's simply ridiculous. It's kind of like what I used to do to my daughter when she was very young and I wanted her to do something. Well, you can do this thing that I want you to do, or you can do this other awful thing that I just made up. By the time she was six, she was hip to this trick and using it against me. But there's UFT leadership saying you can do this thing, or some other thing that you want to do even less. In argument, that's called a black or white fallacy. It's what Karen Magee used at the AFT convention when she suggested the alternative to Common Core was Complete Chaos.
I can't testify as to the 37.5 minute small group thing, as my school is multi-session, and we simply rolled the extra time into classes. As chapter leader, everyone tends to complain to me about everything, but no one ever complains about that. In six years, not one teacher has said to me, "You know, our classes are too long. Why don't we shorten them and go to meetings instead?" And plenty of teachers in my building are tutoring kids all the time, whether or not that's their C6.
As always, it's tough looking reforminess in its twisted little eye while wondering what union leadership is doing to fight it, if anything. Mayoral control is now under attack because de Blasio doesn't support charters sufficiently. They want to raise the cap or dump it. Dump it, I say. But UFT leadership supports it, along with charters, junk science, and testing.
Most teachers want real choices. Not many are getting them.
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