13,000 fewer teachers in NY State than there were five years ago. I know there are thousands fewer teachers in NYC alone, though I can't say offhand just how much of that figure it represents. We know that in NYC, Emperor Bloomberg had a habit of allowing teacher ranks to drop through attrition. Retiring? Fine. One more person I don't have to pay, figured Emperor Mike, and screw the inevitable larger class sizes they'd cause.
For the rest of the state, there is the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which Cuomo now proposes to end, but which has still cut state aid for drastically for many districts since 2009. Couple that with the Cuomo's tax cap of 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower (a measly .12% this year, if I recall correctly), and districts all over the state are strung out for cash. Cuomo, who fancies himself a "student lobbyist" has set it up so districts need a super-majority to aid their children. This, in fact, gives more power to those who'd deny students than those who'd support them, let alone "lobby" for them.
Cuomo gives lip service to moves he's made toward a less insane system, like his so-called moratorium on Common Core testing. This is much ballyhooed not only by Cuomo, but also by UFT leadership, which placed it on the cover of the most recent copy of NY Teacher. In fact, this affects only the scores on state ELA and math tests in grades 3-8, so for most of us, it's meaningless. In fact, it's not even clear whether these scores are entirely not going to be counted in future years.
With all teachers about to be rated 50% via test scores, an entirely invalid measure, it's getting harder to encourage newcomers to go for this job. We now know that we are to be observed by "independent" observers, since of course school supervisors may be prejudiced in favor of the people with whom they work. What an outrage. This follows, of course, the state's brilliant move not to allow teachers to grade their own students. After all, we're just a bunch of thieving, unscrupulous, self-serving bottom feeders who will do anything to look good. We'll never be paragons of integrity like Andrew Cuomo.
We're looking at an insane law, a law for which UFT President Michael Mulgrew thanked our Heavy Hearted Legislature, and a law which neither UFT nor NYSUT appears poised to reform. Mulgrew told us that he'd decided to focus on funding rather than reasonable evaluation. Doubtless, as he always says, he has very smart people with very smart reasons why we should not fight the increase in junk science evaluation for working teachers.
So while UFT declares victory on the cover of NY Teacher, we're looking at yet another evaluation system. This is becoming an annual event in NYC. Once you get a little bit used to the nonsense used to rate you, Cuomo decides not enough of us are being fired and makes up some new and more draconian BS for the teacher-hating charter school enthusiasts who give him so much money. To try and appease the opt-out people who frighten the crap out of him, he proposes a few changes, including the "moratorium" and nebulous promises to adjust Common Core.
UFT leadership declares victory, as it always does no matter what, and opt-out promises to keep up the fight. Again, we are on the wrong side doing the wrong thing, just as we were when Mulgrew promised to punch our faces out if we touched his precious Common Core. Of course, now it's a victory that Cuomo is doing just that, and he spend $1.4 million on a commercial telling NY State what a great guy we thing Cuomo is.
It's hard for me to believe these words as I write them, but that's pretty much the way it is. It's time for our union to get on the right side of history, whether Michael Mulgrew likes it or not. Fortunately, there are teacher groups who notice this and are urging leadership toward sanity.
It makes me kind of wish the UFT election were not rigged, so that it weren't dominated by retirees, so that high school teachers could select their own VP, and so that the winner take all system didn't mean absolutely every delegate to NYSUT and AFT were a loyalty oath signer bound do do Any Damn Thing Leroy Barr Says.
But I'm a dreamer. I'm a teacher and it's my job to see potential and act on it.