Sunday, July 19, 2015

PROSE and Cons

There's a lot of talk about the UFT PROSE model being utliized nationwide. This particular talking point is favored by AFT President Randi Weingarten lately. Evidently it's being put forth as an alternative to charter schools. Charters tend not to be unionized, and thus put a dent in union coffers. Maybe PROSE is a pro-union alternative. I was pretty surprised to see this, though, this morning.

Is it an improvement when our class size limits, already the highest in the state, are disregarded for the sake of "innovation?" I'm not persuaded. For one thing, there are little schools with less than noticeable union presence. A principal could pressure a weak chapter leader (if there even is one), and members could vote as told. I can't envision any benefit in oversized classes for kids, but for principals it could be a bonanza. If one teacher can teach 70 students, like good ol' Mikey Bloomberg wanted, that's one teacher the principal doesn't have to hire. There's tens of thousands for that fact-finding mission to Oahu.

But Weingarten defends the process:

I haven't received a response yet. Will keep you posted if that changes. I'm a public school parent, and I can tell you that I absolutely don't want my kid or any kid in an oversized class. The fact is the UFT Contract is the only instrument that governs class size in NYC. I'm a strong believer that our class sizes are already too large, and there is no way I would sign off on a PROSE plan to make them larger.

I've seen a few PROSE school teachers at the UFT DA, but I honestly haven't got a whole lot of detail as to what their programs entail. I'm sure there are things we could do better, but I can't see at all how raising class size enables that. And now that I know increased class size is a factor in PROSE, I have to wonder what other nonsense this program is allowing.

In our school, we've used SBO votes to enable PD and teacher inquiry teams. They have passed overwhelmingly. I'm not 100% certain they will make us a better school, and I'm not 100% certain they will help kids. But I'm absolutely sure they will do no harm.

It would be nice to know how PROSE schools explain larger class sizes as beneficial to kids. I can't imagine.

Can you?
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