Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Rat Squad

Reading the MOA on the proposed UFT Contract, I notice that the "validators," the people who decide whether or not the burden of proof will be on the DOE to establish teacher incompetence, will now be teachers. This is touted as a major improvement over the last agreement, though the last agreement has never once been tested. Oddly, leadership claimed the last agreement was also wonderful and fair. Evidently, with no evidence whatsoever, they've determined this agreement is even more wonderful and fair.

Teachers who choose to be validators will run around observing their peers, declaring thumbs up or thumbs down. If their thumbs go up, the DOE will have to prove teachers are incompetent in order to fire them. If their thumbs go down, teachers will have to prove they are not incompetent, a burden of proof that will be challenging indeed.

I wonder why any non-administrator would want this job. I don't want this job. If I wanted a job like this I'd have become an administrator. I suppose if I wanted to become an administrator a job like this would look good on my resume. But no way would I sit in judgment of my brother and sister UFT members. No way would I determine they need to prove their competence rather than have the DOE prove otherwise. In fact, I would not even do so for the extra 15K a year offered, nor for the possibility of some future gig in admin.

As this is not tested, it's hard to see what will happen. I can't imagine the DOE's intent in giving teachers this job is to have less discretion in firing teachers. And I know current arbitrators tend to "split the baby" by failing to find anyone absolutely innocent. Absolute innocence in a 3020a hearing tends to be accompanied by a fine of a few thousand dollars for charges that do not merit 3020a.

My daughter likes to watch police shows, and I sometimes watch with her. Often I see references to Internal Affairs, divisions that look after corruption in their fellow officers. They are not much admired by their colleagues, and are often referred to as "the rat squad." Sometimes they're portrayed as doing the right thing, and sometimes they aren't.

I wouldn't want this job, since I believe the burden of proof when taking a teacher's career ought to be on the employer. I wouldn't want this job since I'm closely acquainted with teachers who've lost their careers for no reason. I'd be uncomfortable having any part of that. I wouldn't want this job because I'm an advocate for my colleagues, and even if they're wrong I want admin to follow the rules when disciplining or removing them.

I wouldn't want this job because despite what I read in the tabloids, I don't believe there is a zombie-like plague of bad teachers. I don't believe we need to correct problems that don't actually exist.

It's very disappointing to see my union take up the flag of teacher-bashers, and even more disappointing it approves of paying our own to help fire our own.
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