Friday, October 21, 2016

DA Takeaway October 2016

Mulgrew said, "Welcome to the nuthouse," by way of introduction. I'm not sure just how funny I find that. It's a tough job to represent people, but it's also a serious one. He could be right, but on the other hand maybe the craziest thing to do is go out and teach children. There's just tremendous pressure from all directions, and the folks who govern seem intent on making it worse.

Mulgrew, as I recall, boasted of having a part in writing the original APPR law. I cannot stress how much stress that caused teachers citywide. So when he paints a win/ win face on the matrix thing, that's hard to take too. If you're rated well on school observation, you're OK. If you're rated well on junk science, be it tests or growth, you're OK. Mulgrew has not yet demonstrated to me, or anyone who hasn't signed a loyalty oath, that this growth thing is valid in any respect. People I respect have told me this has been studied even less than test-based junk science and that there's no reason to believe it works.

Of course what Mulgrew did not say is that if you're rated poorly on both axes you're screwed. That is the case now, of course. But two things have not changed:

1. Junk science is kind of a crapshoot. Depending on what school you're in, which kids you get, and how they feel or act any given day, who knows what will happen?

2. A lot of administrators, even in relatively good schools, are out of their frigging minds. They fail to see things that happen, see things that don't, and are largely governed by the voices in their heads.

A lot of teachers feel like moving targets, flying around and hoping not to be randomly shot. This is not the best atmosphere from which to educate children. The immense pressure on teachers helps no one. And the direction we're moving, to wit, experimenting with new unproven methods and hoping for the best, is not likely to help children, teachers, or anyone not gainfully employed in making up new rubrics, materials, or continued justification for a highly compensated seat over at Tweed.

Mulgrew talked a lot of trash about Reformy John King, and Lord knows he merited each and every word. He was horrific in New York, is just as bad in DC, and he's a fanatical ideologue. Logic has no place in his mindset, and that's less than ideal in a prominent educator. Nonetheless, it's hard for me to forget that Mulgrew thought giving him the final say on teacher evaluation would be a fabulous idea. Like many teachers, I did not share that enthusiasm.

Mulgrew thanked us for the progress we made on social media. I continue to be amazed by a leader who advocates for social media, asks that we get on Twitter and use hashtags for this and that, and yet does not use it himself. He also made a remark about how we should see his email. I, for one, wondered aloud whether he saw his email, and the chapter leader next to me said he never answers it. I wasn't surprised because he never answers mine either. 

A resolution came out on blue paper with the Unity logo on back. I recall last year that some Unity folk complained when a MORE logo appeared on a resolution. Evidently, it's not against the rules. Nonetheless, in a hall full of people with trips, jobs, and potential trips and jobs, anything with the Unity logo is something they absolutely positively have to vote for.

Now this motion was for an additional year of mentoring. I'd probably have voted for it if I had time to read it, but some guy stuck it in my hands and then it was voted on. The Unity logo was enough for a whole lot of people in the crowd. They didn't need to read it, and it was a good thing because they didn't have time either.

Things were quite different at the Executive Board on Monday when an passionate David Garcia Rosen got up and spoke eloquently about the importance of the Netflix documentary 13th. People hadn't seen it, they said, so how could they vote on it? I actually thought that was a good point until two days later when I was asked to vote on a one-page resolution I didn't have time to read (and I'm a pretty fast reader). If that's not a double standard, I don't know what is.

By the way, if you haven't seen 13th, I highly recommend it. It's both excellent and disturbing. Hopefully some of those folks at Executive Board will find time to see it and come to their senses. Regardless, you will never forget it.
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