Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Consider the Source

We all love praise.  There's nothing like praise from kids--from your students, or from your own kids.  You can see when it comes right from the heart.  I've saved some little notes kids have given me, and I look at them from time to time.  One year I got a letter from a principal commending me for my attendance but I have no idea where that is.

While I don't treasure praise from admin quite like I do that from kids, it's fine nonetheless.  It's better, for example, than the counseling memo I got for strolling into a PD session two hours late.  Still, what if you're garnering praise from, say, Jack the Ripper on what fine work you do?  Would you be proud if Charles Manson sent you a Christmas card?  I'm not at all certain I'd put it out for my guests to see.

So when Tim Daly, who took Michelle Rhee's former post as head of The New Teacher Project, starts writing you valentines, it's time to seriously re-examine your priorities.  After all, Daly's name pops up again and again when it's getting rid of working teachers is on the agenda.   He's famously been behind a report called "Mutual Benefits" that suggested firing ATR teachers and offered no benefits to anyone but the Bloomberg administration and its Death Star approach to personnel matters.  It was full of such blatant manipulation of statistics, even I could see them with a cursory examination.

And who is Daly praising?  None other than AFT President Randi Weingarten.  What are her accomplishments?

1.  She's allowed teacher pay in DC to be linked to "performance" in DC, and allows them to be dismissed more easily at the whim of Michelle Rhee, a "common sense" approach, according to Daly.

2.  In New Haven, apparently, test scores also determine who is and is not a good teacher.

3. In Colorado, she was part of a negotiation that allowed 50% of a teacher rating to be judged by test scores and pretty much allowed teachers to be fired on that basis.  Layoffs will no longer be done on basis of seniority but on the basis of test scores.  Raise your hand if you think senior teachers will be getting the best kids.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Incidentally, these changes were vigorously opposed by the NEA.

Daly goes on and complains because Weingarten didn't lead the changes, but acceded to them.  He says it would have been easier for her to fight them.  If there's any truth to that, since no study supports the validity of "value-added," why the hell did she insist on falling down when no one pushed her?  And why was UFT President Michael Mulgrew, here in NYC, so keen on following in her misguided footsteps?

Perhaps the NEA's frank rejection of this nonsense will shock Mulgrew and Weingarten into reality, and coax them into acting in the interests of working teachers.  I'll keep my eye on the convention.  Hopefully, when Bill Gates spouts similar praise, AFT leaders will join rank and file in copious vomiting. 

When parasites write op-eds in the Daily News thanking you for all the lifeblood you've allowed them to drain, it's time to seriously scrutinize how you do your job.
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