Saturday, September 30, 2017

UFT Leadership Says Everything Is Wonderful and If You Don't Agree You Are Crazy

Ever since I've been reading NY Teacher, that's been the official message. Every evaluation system has been wonderful, this is the best possible scenario in the best possible world, and we're doing a great job. A case in point is this article, discussing the lump-sum retro payment members will be receiving in October:

Because you have a union that fights for you, eligible members are entitled to be compensated for the two 4 percent raises that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave to members of some municipal unions in 2009 and 2010 but refused to give to public school educators and other city employees at the time.

Of course there is another side to that.  Before we even look at it, let's take a look at that first phrase. "Because you have a union..." I often argue that we are the union. A lot of people say to me the union did this or that. I tell them you are the union, or we are the union. In fact I've heard Mulgrew say that too. But when there's something worth boasting about, we have a union. The leaders or officials have done this or that wonderful thing for us.

If we're going to look at it that way, let's change the angle a bit. Because you have a union that's willing to wait years for what NYPD and FDNY got in 2008, you still haven't received 75% of the money that's owed you. Furthermore, the city has been sitting on it interest free and will continue to do so for another three years.

There were other things the union you "have" could've done for you while Bloomberg was mayor. For one thing, it could've opposed the disaster that was mayoral control. Under that system, high schools all over the city were closed. Smaller schools and charters popped up in their spaces, sometimes staffed will all newbies. There are still schools with no chapter leaders and effectively no chapters. There are still schools in which the UFT Contract is a quaint afterthought while principals run roughshod and do any damn thing they please. (Also, the union you "have" supported mayoral control a second time after it was proven to be an unmitigated disaster.)

I'm glad there were fewer ineffective ratings. I'm glad there were more highly effective ratings. Sadly, that doesn't diminish the pressure teachers feel, the pressure I hear about absolutely every day on my job. No one understands what the hell MOSL means. While there may be a possibility of some teachers using portfolios or something, that's a whole lot of extra work and no one really understands how it will be used or interpreted. This is a high pressure job and anyone who doesn't understand that hasn't been in a classroom for a while.

The UFT line is the alternative is total principal power under S and U. That may be, but no one under the S and U system ever faced a 3020a hearing with the burden of proof on them. Having to prove you are not incompetent is a high standard indeed. And while District Reps and UFT officials can lecture you on how bad that system is, none of them teach more than one class. All of them are rated S and U. If that system is so terrible, why did they insure that they'd be subject to it?

I have people asking me to be on S and U system. How can I teach one class and get rated that way?  I haven't got an answer. In our building, we haven't got any .8 comp-time positions. If we did, people would fight for them for sure. I don't know a single teacher not on UFT payroll who likes Advance and Danielson. As for MOSL, it's far from perfect. In my own building, non-ESL teachers who teach classes with many ELLs see their scores fall below effective. Who will want to teach ELLs if it causes their scores to drop?

In fact, NYSUT opposes the APPR system. They wrote that position into official policy via resolution. UFT leadership voted unanimously for the resolution, yet tells us that it is wonderful. When I ask whether or not they support the resolution they unanimously supported, the response is they'll get back to me. 

Here's the thing--the rating system changes. Teaching conditions change. You and I change. Our families change. Our friends come and go. Politics change. Janus will bring change.

But the message of UFT leadership never changes. I know, because more often than not, I'm on the receiving end. Everything is wonderful and if you don't agree you must be crazy. If I were leadership, I'd try tweaking that message a little before Janus.

Of course I'm not leadership. I am UFT. I don't expect leadership to realize that either.
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