Wednesday, December 04, 2013

You Teachers Cannot Be Trusted. Or Compensated.

That's why Reformy John King decreed that you need to be observed 4-6 times per year. After all, who knows what the hell it is you do in that classroom if you aren't under constant surveillance? Bill Gates liked to say that administrators could only visit classrooms once per year. That is, of course, utterly without foundation, but everyone listens to him since he has all that money.

Gotham Schools, in analyzing the King decree, said that neither the DOE nor the UFT wanted this many observations. Yet King, who the union incredibly accepted as an impartial arbitrator, unilaterally decreed more. One potentially good thing is the worst supervisors, facing hundreds of observations per year, may have less time to harass teachers for no reason. Of course, who knows whether or not they're expressing their inner dirtbag on those Danielson check-off sheets? UFT has established a reporting portal, and if supervisors show patterns of idiocy or vindictiveness, there may be some remedy.

Of course, we have no idea what the incoming mayor may negotiate. There is talk of everything being in flux, but it's unlikely we'll see any substantive changes without a contract, and regrettably I have to doubt that will be a quick fix. I'm encouraged that UFT reps I know are now acknowledging that we are two contracts behind, because for the last few years they appeared to have forgotten. Working teachers know that almost all unions got an 8% raise with virtually no givebacks during the 2008-2010 round of pattern bargaining. So while the incoming mayor can offer a crap pattern for new contracts, it will be tough for him to explain why we should take an effective 8% salary cut going forward. That would mean all those draconian givebacks we took in 05 were largely for nothing.

Let's hope Michael Mulgrew doesn't approach us saying to forget that round with yet another chorus of, "That's the best we can do."

Will UFT move to initiate a more reasonable observation system? It's tough to say. I've heard UFT reps maintain teachers do better with multiple observations, and there's some validity to that. How many teachers used to get observed once by an administrator looking to give a U-rating, who predictably determined said teacher sucked and indeed merited one?

While that's a problem, a more reasonable system would make administrators focus multiple visits on teachers deemed in need of improvement. If someone is doing a good job, excessive scrutiny is not only unmerited, but wasteful. It places undue stress on the teacher, and undue time demands on the supervisor.

The job of the supervisor ought to be supporting teachers who need it. And if we are to have a productive system, we ought not to waste supervisor time making hundreds of unwarranted visits to teachers who don't need their help.
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