Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Why Teaching is Still Better than Russian Roulette

There are a lot of naysayers about the revolutionary new APPR system that UFT President Michael Mulgrew helped negotiate. There are even more people complaining that, when the Assembly moved to make the system even worse, that Mulgrew actually thanked them and declared the Twitter campaign, the one in which he did not participate, a rousing success. These people, of course, ignore the beauty and wonder of the new system.

For one thing, as Mulgrew frequently points out, the number of poorly rated teachers is lower than it used to be. Sure, in the past, a negative rating did not come with a humiliating Teacher Improvement Plan, where you sit every week with the person who gave you a crap rating and soak up his insights on why you suck or how you should observe the ducklings who follow him blindly into whatever. Sure, in the past, the burden of proof to establish your incompetence was on the DOE, and you did  not get observed by the UFT Rat Squad to determine whether or not it would remain that way. And sure, two negative ratings did not automatically send you to 3020a.

But if you have a free pass to the next meeting in Schenectady, if you want that free tuna wrap while the proles all slink away from the delegate assembly, and if you want that all-important patronage gig or the possibility of a lucrative union career outside that inconvenient classroom, you don't think about that stuff. You do as you're told, question nothing, and champion mayoral control, charter schools, high-stakes testing, junk science and Common Core for the kids you serve. Because after all you're a role model and how will children learn to suck up and surrender their principles if you don't lead by example?

What Mulgrew has yet to touch on, of course, is the clear advantage our current APPR system, or even Cuomo's new system has over Russian Roulette. Now everyone knows Russian Roulette is a game in which 5 of the 6 chambers of your cartridge are empty. So you have a one in six chance of actually killing yourself. But in APPR, your chances are considerably less. Let's say Cuomo achieves the Jack Welch model of shedding 5% of teachers each year, whether or not they actually deserve it. Every teacher will then have a 19 to 1 shot at keeping his or her job each year, and it seems to me that everyone would have a 50/ 50 shot of making it to ten years. 

So for all those nagging critics who say, oh, teachers shouldn't be judged on baseless systems like VAM or so-called growth models, for all those who are freaked out over the possibility of being fired for no reason, for all those who teach kids who don't speak English, kids who have severe learning disabilities, or even kids who never study, stop your whining. Take a look at Christopher Walken, above. He made believe he was playing Russian Roulette and his career turned out fine.

All you need to do is make believe we're working under a reasonable evaluation system and for all you know, your career might turn out fine too.
blog comments powered by Disqus