Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cynthia Nixon Urges Repeal of APPR

I'm a UFT chapter leader, and as such I get an awful lot of complaints. Almost all of them are about the oppressive rating system. Every teacher I know has supervisors marching in and out, checking boxes over just how badly we suck. And every teacher I know, even the ones who've been consistently rated highly effective, hates this system.

Some people have good supervisors who are reasonable. Some people have crazy supervisors who are not. But everyone feels like supervisors are lurking about, ready to pounce at the first opportunity. If you teach math, the English AP can walk in and rate you any time. If you teach a foreign language, people who don't understand it can rate your lesson.

This system is the brainchild of Andrew Cuomo, and sadly, our union leadership went along for this ride. The assumption behind it, as Cuomo repeatedly announced, was that not enough teachers were being fired. While I'm certainly glad that the system's failed to fire teachers in droves, any system conceived like that is felt and interpreted precisely as intended. Here are a few paragraphs from a press release I just received.

“A couple years ago Andrew Cuomo described teacher evaluation based on high stakes testing as one of his greatest legacies, now he is hoping that parents and teachers have forgotten all about it,” Cynthia Nixon said. “Enough of the delays and excuses Governor Cuomo, it is time to repeal the APPR now.”

“Cynthia Nixon has a vision that will put education on the right track by refocusing New York schools on the dignity of teaching and the joy of learning,” said Diane Ravitch, education historian. “She will provide the resources our children need to succeed. Andrew Cuomo's policies have disrespected teachers as a profession and undermined the education of our children."

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine a system based on dignity as opposed to you all suck and deserve to be fired? How long has it been since you felt supported or encouraged by this system? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say never. When I first began, I felt indifference. I learned to compensate for it. I learned that if I expected nothing I'd never be disappointed.

Ever since Danielson I feel like it's us against them. I'm speaking as someone whose direct supervisor is decidedly Not Insane. Nonetheless, I sit at UFT Executive Board and am regaled with tales of principals who use observation as a weapon, who rate anyone who questions them ineffective, who 3020a chapter leaders for the unpardonable offense of standing up for children. I knew an AP who one year had a member suffer a-fib episodes each time they met. The following year one of his teachers had a heart attack in the hall. The year after that, a teacher who he threatened with ineffective ratings died one night, quite prematurely. During the last conversation I had with that teacher, he was terribly upset over that ineffective rating possibility.

We need a system that will encourage teachers. We need a system that will encourage young people to be teachers. Lord knows we haven't remotely got such a system in place. Diane Ravitch knows too, and that's why she's endorsed a group called Educators for Cynthia.

I've signed on, and if you'd like to join me you may do so right here. Let's take our education system out of the hands of Eva Moskowitz and her merry band of hedge funders, and return it to educators, along with the families and children we serve.

Read the full press release at Diane Ravitch's Blog.
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