Tuesday, December 22, 2015

DA Takeway

I don't know what to make of UFT President Michael Mulgrew. A year ago, he was shaking his fist and telling the whole world he was gonna punch it in the face and push it in the dirt if it laid a finger on his precious Common Core. At last week's Delegate Assembly, he seemed to be not only reveling in its impending death, but also taking credit for it. We did this, and we did that, so Cuomo's commission happened.

As usual, I think Mulgrew is passing out the party hats a little prematurely. Like all things reformy, you cut off one head of Common Core and it merely grows another. I'm much more impressed with the Carol Burris version, which lays out what New Yorkers really want:

A whopping 86 percent responded that New York should abandon the Common Core and return to the former New York State standards. The slow plod toward standards review recommended in the report is hardly the “overhaul” that parents will expect.

Burris doesn't precisely envision the withering and dying of Common Core. While Mulgrew boasts that teachers will help develop the next iteration about the standards, he and Weingarten said exactly the same about Common Core. I can't recall how many times I heard leadership defend CCSS as teacher developed, though sources I trust say otherwise. In any case, involvement has multiple facets. When your principal decrees everyone is working nights and weekends for free and that's that, he may consider it consultation. Those who mark papers all night likely view it otherwise.

It is indeed progress that the new ESSA doesn't mandate junk science. But Mulgrew also says that this is a bad time for us to ask for changes on anything, and as far as I can tell, we're still gonna be judged 50% on it. And it's tough for me to forget Mulgrew thanked the Heavy Hearts for enabling this atrocity. Whether it's Common Core junk science or garden variety junk science is not particularly comforting to me.

Leadership likes to cite teachers who'd have been granted bad ratings but were saved by junk science. That's nice, but I am personally acquainted with teachers who'd been granted good ratings but were sunk by junk science. To my mind, advocating junk science at 50% is akin to playing Russian Roulette with three bullets in the chamber. Personally, I can't get all excited simply because we've painted the bullets a marginally more attractive color.

Mulgrew asked a member who inquired about the 50% if she wanted to have principals determine 80% of the rating. The DA booed at that idea, but junk science is just a crapshoot. Spin the wheel and hope for the best. That's not what teachers want. That's what reformies want. Anything that results in fewer unionized teachers is good with them. Who cares if they fire good teachers or bad teachers as long as there are more charter schools with no union at all? Maybe we should dump junk science and simply demand rational administrators across the board. Or is that an impossible demand?

Mulgrew says we shouldn't worry about school closings, that they're basically part of life when not presided over by Michael Bloomberg, but I don't buy that either. I love what I do, but I do not envision a whole lot of principals asking me to do it. If my school were closed, I would very likely be consigned to the ATR pool for the rest of my career. While there may be some who are happy there, I'm not one of them. I love to teach, and I can't for the life of me figure why we gave up seniority transfers for the ATR. TNTP did some ridiculous paper on mutual consent, but basically if you're an ATR you have to go where they send you unless the principal doesn't want you. Mutual consent appears to be whatever the principal damn well pleases.

All in all, last week's DA was pretty uneventful and unsurprising.With Friedrichs hanging over our heads, it's tough to stay calm, as Mulgrew urged. But panicking won't do much good either, so I'm gonna have to agree with him on that, at least.
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