Monday, June 20, 2016

Mayoral Control, but What About Evaluation?

Every year is a carnival. What new and more convoluted ways will the government find to catch us in the act of doing our jobs and fire us? Will it be another rubric for supervisors to follow, or the same one? Will it be the same parts of the rubric? Are we assumed to be so stupid that we believe every supervisor follows the same rubric in the same way?

Are we gonna get surprise visits from people who don't know us, don't know our students, and don't know anything about our schools so as to make things fair, as defined by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo? Will he then look at said program, declare it "baloney," and set about constructing a new one that will fire more teachers? No one really knows.

Because Albany deems Bill de Blasio to be a hippie commie weirdo, perhaps due to his opposition to charter schools, he's only gotten a one-year extension of mayoral control. This places him in the position of having to renegotiate it next year as he runs for re-election. That will be convenient for whichever pawn Eva Moskowitz selects to run against him. After all, if there were a mayor who'd rubber stamp whatever she wanted, like Mike Bloomberg did, Albany would have no issue granting a multi-year extension. (And if he'd pull a million dollars in loose change our of his pocket to keep the Senate's GOP majority, like Bloomberg did, that wouldn't hurt either.)

It looks like there are some goodies in there for those with the corporate driven agenda UFT Unity criticizes MORE for fighting.

The deal also will allow charter schools to more easily switch between authorizers. That could mean the city’s education department, which oversees a number of charter schools but no longer accepts oversight of new schools, could see some of those schools depart for the State University of New York or the state’s education department.

After all, charters need more freedom to do whatever the hell they see fit, and be authorized by whoever the hell they see fit, in case more restrictive authorizers say, hey, you can't do whatever the hell you see fit. Because whatever Eva wants, Eva gets. After all, charters don't need no stinking rules, and the Times offers this:

Charter schools can be authorized by three agencies — the State Education Department, the city’s Education Department and SUNY — but all operate according to the same state law. Although the announcement of the agreement did not offer details, the Senate’s proposal would exempt SUNY schools from the usual state standards and free to set their own rules, two officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations said.
But here's where, as a public school teacher subject to all those rating regulations charters can't be bothered with, I really wonder what the hell is going on here:

Lawmakers also agreed to give districts until the end of the year to negotiate the details of new evaluation systems for teachers and principals. according to Assembly spokesman Michael Whyland. Districts, including New York City, have been facing a Sept. 1 deadline to develop systems that complied with an unpopular 2015 law.

So let's see-- we have until the end of December to negotiate a new evaluation system. Therefore, we could conceivably start with one system in September only to find it completely revamped in January. We could, for example, then train teachers in January to prepare them for what was expected of them in September. That makes sense, doesn't it?

Well, it seems to have passed muster with the Heavy Hearts Assembly that passed the draconian evaluation law demanded by Andrew Cuomo. Of course that law was passed before Tough Andy became the Softer, Gentler Andy, worn down by the opt-out movement so reviled by UFT Unity. This notwithstanding, UFT Unity had no problem taking credit for the superficial changes in tone, and has no problem treating a partial moratorium on Common Core tests and Yet Another Great Victory.

And where does that leave those of us who actually have to go to work every day in New York City's public schools? I'd say pretty much rudderless and confused. After all, UFT Unity is led by Michael Mulgrew, who boasted of helping write the APPR law that brought junk science to teacher ratings. Mulgrew just boasted at the DA that junk science would count even more in our ratings.

Now Mulgrew may say that the junk science ratings help teachers more than they hurt them, and for all I know, he may be right. After all, some people are luckier than others. But I happen to know a very smart teacher who got an ineffective rating solely because of her MOSL scores. I have to think if I know one, there must be many more. But regardless of this, one is too many.

If the judgment of principals and assistant principals is so bad that the quality of their ratings is improved by a virtual coin toss the issue is not how much authority they do or do not have. The issue is not the optimal percentage of junk science we blend in to ameliorate that. The issue is the competence, or lack thereof, of those in positions to supervise us.

Until and unless the United Federation of Teachers faces up to that, there will be no system worth looking at. I've said it before and I'll say it again--the optimal percentage of junk science in a teacher evaluation is zero. If anyone wants to dispute that, I'm all ears.
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