Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rod Paige's Favorite Teachers Union Head Does It Again

As I am sure you know by now, Rubber Room Randi Weingarten, Mayor Moneybags, and Uncle Joel Klein signed off on a plan to bring merit pay to the New York City public school system.

Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have opposed measures in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law that would require districts to offer merit pay based on test score results.

But Rubber Room Randi and her UFT hacks, working in secret, were agreeing to the very kinds of pay for performance proposals that the NEA and the AFT are both working to have stripped from the reauthorization of NCLB.

Now the UFT argues that the merit pay program in New York City is school-wide and not individual-based, so therefore it is fairer than the kinds of merit pay proposals we have seen offered in the past.

Indeed, Rubber Room Randi insists that the merit pay program is not actually merit pay.

Instead she uses a euphemism - "school-wide bonuses" - to call her merit pay program something else.

Nonetheless, the merit pay will be based upon test score results, so call it what you will, at the end of the day it is still merit pay.

The union is claiming victory in this battle because they say the merit pay program will only go into effect if the legislature passes changes to the pension system that allows teachers to retire at age 55 with 25 years of service and no pension penalties.

However, the NY Times story says the merit pay program goes into effect this year at 200 schools and will be running in a total of 400 schools by next year.

There's no word on what happens if the state legislature - which has passed the 25/55 pension proposal in the past when Governor Pataki was going to veto it - decides they want to be the firewall to kill the pension change this time around.

Remember too that the largest donor to Republicans in the State Senate is Mayor Moneybags (he of the "independent" party affiliation), so if he decides he wants Bruno and Company to kill the pension changes for him on the q.t., he can have it done.

After all, he would still be keeping his end of the bargain (wink, wink, nod, nod) but those nasty Repubs in the State Senate would be the one's reneging...

In any case, education reformers are waking up to a dream world today in which the largest urban teachers union in the country has undercut the two national teachers unions and all the smaller local teachers unions fighting merit pay proposals tied to standardized test scores by happily agreeing to make test score performance for pay a part of the system.

The NY Sun reports that by agreeing to this merit pay program, Weingarten and the UFT have "shattered a stalemate" on the controversial issue and have ensured that merit pay based on standardized test scores will make its way nation-wide.

Weingarten has helped the merit pay people to a nation-wide victory.

And let's not forget that education experts like Diane Ravitch have called for an independent audit of New York's testing program because there are huge discrepancies between the state and city test scores and the national test scores. Even Weingarten herself said the discrepancies conjure up a "cloud" over the veracity of the test score results.

Yet she is agreeing to let these very test score results - the ones with the "clouds" over them because they may be fabricated or artificially inflated - be used for the city's merit pay program.

That doesn't seem to make much sense, does it?

Well, what does make sense is this graf from the Times account:

The plan would not only give Mr. Bloomberg a policy change he has long sought, but also allow Ms. Weingarten, a potential candidate to lead the national American Federation of Teachers, to cast herself as a reform-minded union leader.

There you have it - what this is all about is Weingarten.

She's already Rod Paige's favorite teachers union head (and why wouldn't she be, since she has agreed to additional teaching days, additional teaching time, a sixth class, the end of seniority transfers, grievance procedure changes, the return of bathroom duty, total mayoral control, and changes to the school financing formula that help the city get rid of senior teachers?).

Now she wants to do to the American Federation of Teachers what she has done to the United Federation of Teachers - set the teacher labor movement back decades.

You can bet the next "reform" this "reform-minded union leader" will take on before she leaves for bigger and better things is teacher tenure.
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