Thursday, July 12, 2012

Let's Make a Deal (?)

In the spirit of being reasonable, Bloomberg and Walcott have conceded they may need to follow the law after all. This is a huge step for Mayor4Life, who actually managed to change a law twice affirmed by voters so he could buy himself a third term. After all, what's the point of having all that money if you actually have to follow rules clearly intended for the little people?

Nonetheless, after having one's ass handed to one twice in a row, one begins to wonder whether the third time is a charm. Given the very real possibility they may be compelled to keep all those darn teachers, rather than dumping literally thousands of them into the ATR, it's time to plan for it. After all, the longer they keep their heads in the sand, the harder it is to breathe.

So the move here is to plan for what may be inevitable. But there's yet another wrinkle. Meryl Tisch, state education chancellor, is pressuring Mayor4Life to come to an agreement with the UFT over teacher evaluations, saying 292 million in state funds will be withheld if that doesn't happen by year's end.

I wonder whether that money is earmarked for "reform"-style nonsense or whether it can be used in the classroom. If it's only for evaluation and merit pay and other useless nonsense, she can keep her money. But the public won't perceive it that way since the papers never specify such things. Either way, there are problems with this agreement. Problem one for me is that teachers will be evaluated via VAM, which is total crap. UFT leaders will argue it's only 20% crap, and that they will absolutely not allow it to creep up to 40. Others will maintain it's 100, since teachers cannot get a decent rating without doing well on so-called objective measures.

But before we even have that discussion, there are other issues. For example, two ineffective ratings, and teachers will be pretty much fired, no matter how nostalgic they are about tenure. And UFT negotiated that 13% of ineffective rating will go to an independent arbitrator rather than Walcott's ever-ready rubber stamp. For folks like me, this sucks because 87% of working teachers won't get a fair hearing.

Mayor4Life, according to my UFT sources, has a completely different view. He finds it outrageous that even 13% of teachers should get a fair hearing, because he's Mayor Mike, and he should do what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. Therefore he will not finalize this agreement during his tenure. Now some of us may conclude we should jump with joy since this precludes being evaluated by junk science.

That's a very valid point. The counterpoint is that any new evaluation system would necessitate a new contract, which would also necessitate facing the fact that all city employees except educators got an 8 plus % raise during the 2008-2010 round of pattern bargaining. Personally,  I think it's a mistake to take money in exchange for junk science, particularly since our brother and sister unions did not grant concessions this round, none of them are rated by junk science, and even the so-called shield against making teacher ratings public is so full of holes you could drive a city garbage truck through it.

But that's just me. What do you think we should do here?
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