ATTENTION NYC TEACHERS: YOU HAVE BEEN HAD BY YOUR UNION

hoodwinked

I hope all New York City teachers remembered what was happening around this time last year. New York State United Teachers, in conjunction with our own United Federation of Teachers, agreed to a new teacher evaluation system with the state of New York.

I hope all NYC teachers remember that the UFT leadership, in the form of Leo Casey, tried to explain to us why the system to which they agreed was a good one. Here is Leo Casey last year “setting the record straight” on why we the teachers of NYC should support the new evaluations:

And it was essential that the bulk of the evaluations be established locally through collective bargaining, with the law only providing a general framework.

Translation: don’t worry, because your local union will have a say in what the evaluation regime will look like in your district.

Fast forward almost one year later to today. The UFT and the city have not been able to come to an agreement. As it turned out collective bargaining, the thing that Leo Casey said was essential, yielded no agreement. That is where things should have ended.

But Governor Cuomo said today that he might just push an evaluation system through the legislature and impose it on NYC by fiat. In other words, Cuomo said he is willing to override the agreement we came to via collective bargaining, which was no agreement. This is in direct contradiction to the framework to which he and the union agreed last year.

The UFT should be up in arms about this. Our Unity leadership should point out that collective bargaining yielded no agreement, despite the fact that they were willing to meet the city more than halfway. Unity should be fighting to uphold the integrity of collective bargaining, the one essential element of this evaluation framework.

Instead, here is the response of Unity’s own Michael Mulgrew:

Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that he “would prefer a negotiated settlement,” but supported state intervention if talks fail again.

In other words, Mulgrew supports an evaluation system imposed by fiat. Collective bargaining went from being the essential part of the deal to being no part of the deal whatsoever.

What a difference a year makes.

And lest there be any doubts as to how essential collective bargaining was supposed to be to the process, let us look at what Leo Casey said almost one year ago today:

With collective bargaining playing a key role in the shaping of “on the ground” evaluations, teacher unions have the input that will allow us to protect the educational integrity and fairness of the evaluation process….

Now that Unity has agreed to no collective bargaining and no input, does this mean that whatever evaluation process we get now will have no “educational integrity and fairness”?

In all of the complexity of these multiple measures, there is one essential point to remember: 80% of the total evaluation – the measures of teacher performance and the measures of student learning based on local assessments – are set through collective bargaining at the district level. This provides teacher union locals with an essential and necessary input into teacher evaluations, allowing us to ensure that they have educational integrity and are fair to teachers.

So does this mean that Michael Mulgrew today signaled that he is perfectly fine to have a system that doesn’t “ensure… educational integrity and (is) fair to teachers.”?

Remember when Carol Burris criticized the UFT for agreeing to a system that was going to deplete the quality of education in New York State? Here are some of the words Casey used to describe Burris’ criticisms: “alarmist”, “misinformed”, “groundless”, “problematic” and “speculative”. Here is Leo Casey addressing Burris’ point about our schools being given over to standardized testing:

If both components were based solely on standardized test scores, using unreliable value-added models with high margins of error, as Burris incorrectly claims, these scoring bands would have the potential of producing unfair ratings among outlier cases. But with at least one of these two components being a local assessment that, as it is collectively bargained, should be an authentic assessment of student learning, this objection does not hold.

The implication is that collective bargaining will ensure that the assessments will be “authentic” because local districts and unions know best how to assess their students. Now that Unity has signaled that they are fine with having zero collective bargaining, are they also saying that they are fine with inauthentic assessments of our students? Is he also saying that Carol Burris’ contention that these evaluations are bad for schools actually does “hold”?

What else can it mean? If collective bargaining equals authentic assessment, then how does no collective bargaining not equal inauthentic assessment?

Casey continued discussing the issue of student assessment:

In New York City, the UFT has taken the position that under no circumstances would we agree to the use of standardized state exams for the local measures of student learning…

Well, now that Unity has basically forfeited their right to agree to anything what use is Unity’s “position” now, Mr. Casey?

Casey then went on to address Carol Burris in more detail:

Burris’ commentary ignores the ways in which the New York teacher evaluation law turns over the scoring of different components of the evaluation to local collective bargaining.

And as of today, so has Michael Mulgrew.

On the measures of student learning, both the selection and the scoring of the local assessment are the subject of collective bargaining.

This is no longer the Unity’s position. As of today, this has been totally abandoned.

The law thus gives local unions the means to prevent the very sort of scenario Burris plays out in her piece, where a teacher is effective on all the measures of teacher performance and all the measures of student learning, yet still receives an overall rating of ineffective.

Sure, the law did but Unity showed today that they would be willing to allow that part of the law to be violated. Therefore, doesn’t this mean that Burris’ concern that a good teacher will be rated “ineffective” because of junk science has turned out to be much less “baseless” than Leo Casey had us thinking last year?

But Burris simply ignores the collective bargaining requirements and speculates that a scoring range for the measures of teacher performance will be established that, conveniently, produce the results that makes her scenario work. Is it really necessary to note that teacher union leaders with substantial experience in collective bargaining know how to do simple math, and would not agree in collective bargaining to scoring bands for teacher performance that would produce such an incongruous and unfair result?

I suppose it is just too bad that the teachers of NYC will not have the benefit of being protected by the awesome negotiating skills of Unity, since Unity has clearly indicated that they are willing to abdicate their role in this regard. What good are those collective bargaining skills when Unity refuses to stand by collective bargaining in the first place?

While Unity has not totally sold us out yet, Mulgrew said very clearly today that he was willing to do so. All of these promises from Leo Casey mean nothing as of now.

Dear Leo Casey,

We went the collective bargaining route and came to an agreement in NYC. The agreement was no agreement. Now you guys are willing to change the rules, do a complete about-face and trash all of the promises you made to us, your dues-paying members, last year.

Dear Teachers of NYC,

You have been had by Unity leadership. Very clearly, Leo Casey was selling us a bill of goods. They made us think that collective bargaining was going cushion the blow of these evaluations. Now they say they are fine with taking away the cushion. They are not even willing to put up a fight to keep the cushion in place.

You do not have to accept this. As Reality-Based Educator said today, there is MORE out there than a Unity leadership that will stab in you the back.

We deserve MORE than a pack of lies.

 

 

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22 responses to “ATTENTION NYC TEACHERS: YOU HAVE BEEN HAD BY YOUR UNION

  1. This is frightening. Are there no lengths to which the UFT will not go to cooperate with the city and state? Can we trust them to keep their word on anything? I don’t think so.

  2. This is yet another example of school system that has taken the decision making process away from real stakeholders. These union people aren’t teachers, aren’t parents or members of the community. They are just union people, interested, as always, in the ultimate political viability of their union. So sad.
    Thanks for not letting Casey off the hook!

    • Absolutely. This is what happens when leaders are insulated from the people they are supposed to represent. We are not represented in any way. We are pawns. Us, students and parents, all of us are plastic pieces on the chessboard.

      Thanks for stopping by DOENuts. I will not stop until Leo Casey is hoist with his own petard.

  3. Now…that is the proper use of the word…OBFUSCATIONS. That would also be a gross understatement. I really think… They are good for nothing..swindlers. BAD….BAD…union leadership. Their lips are moving, but nothing is coming out.

    • Just re-reading Leo’s post in light of what Mulgrew said today floored me. The amount of hot air was unbelievable. I like Leo, he had helped me out before and I hope he is able to see why we don ‘t trust UFT leadership anymore.

  4. Wow, I do not know what is scarier, the fact that this was so expected, pr the fact that I am so not shocked, I was actually blase about it…especially since I have already decided to for for the entire MORE slate.

    • I know what you mean. It is scary to think that Leo was speaking with a forked tongue, that Mulgrew would refuse to even defend basic collective bargaining and that the union would fold so fast after “standing tall” a mere two weeks ago. But it is undeniable now. We deserve MORE.

  5. I’m in the city having dinner with bullied teachers. I asked all, what has the union done to help you. Take a guess at all their answers…

  6. Crickets chirping indeed. It’s the same story all over the nation. Teachers have made doormats of themselves while union leadership climbs into bed with administrators and cozies up to politicians who see teachers as “the problem.” Union leadership isn’t bright enough to see that they are writing their own prescription for extinction; teachers grumble quietly (if at all) about how increasingly unhappy they are in their work; the chasm between administration and faculty grows; and pretty soon Bill Gates will be running our schools. Lovely.

  7. Yes. I never understood why unions are doing things that, in the long run, are undercutting their own position. I think it is because they honestly agree that schools should be privatized and run like businesses so they can get a slice of the pie while the getting is good.

    Thanks you checking in.

  8. I agree. Any kowtowing to politicians who seek to privatize public education can only be good for Union leaders looking for work down the line. It’s like the Goldman Sachs/government crew … help banks and Wall Street profit and avoid accountability then get hired by or go back to those companies as a reward.

    There are many reform “think tanks” who would hail these decisions by our union leadership. Soon, they’ll request their resumes, too.

  9. The problem with the leadership in schools particularly in NYC and maybe even around the country is that common denominator between all leaders is cowardice. The second problem is that they have never been in the classrooms long enough to imagine the negative impact their shotty decision making will have our students. If test scores are going to measure effectiveness we’ll soon be reading all about it: CHEATING in the next free newspaper. If these people at the top really don’t have vision or passion to make a difference then they should find a new job or at the very least ask the people on the ground: students and teachers. One reason we have the most powerful military in the world is because you can’t be a leader without serving your time in the trenches. It’s only then you can search for solutions to the problems you faced while working at the lowest level. When are we going to demand more from our leaders?!

  10. And when the inevitable cheating happens, we will be blamed. Our unions will be nowhere to defend us, even though they help create the system that led to the cheating in the first place. That is a good question. When we will demand MORE from our leaders?

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  12. What is clear is that either MORE caucus does not understand collective bargaining or that it has made a decision to knowingly misrepresent the collective bargaining process.

    It is not uncommon to have negotiations grind to a standstill, especially when one of the parties — in our case, Michael Bloomberg — has no intention of engaging in good faith negotiations. Bloomberg can not get over the fact that law requires the DOE and City to negotiate teacher evaluations with the UFT, rather than be able to unilaterally impose what he wants — a system focused on the notches he can put on his belt for the number of fired teachers. What the Governor and leaders of the state legislature are saying is that if impasse with the city continues because of the mayor’s obstructionism, NYSED would act as an arbitrator, and issues that could not be resolved in negotiations would go to it for a decision.

    This is a standard procedure in both labor law and collective bargaining practice, commonly described as a form of binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is not rare: it is in that forum that management and labor bring issues of the interpretation or implementation of a collective bargaining agreement that they can not resolve between them. The recent decision on SESIS (http://www.uft.org/news/uft-prevails-sesis-arbitration) is an example of binding arbitration, in which an arbitrator ruled that the DOE would have to compensate teachers for the additional time they spend, beyond the regular work day, to do the paperwork associated with the system.

    It is important to remember here that there was an agreement that was reached between the UFT and the DOE that the mayor then blew up. The number of issues where there is now disagreement are finite and small. Chief among these is the issue of the sunset clause, where the mayor withdrew the agreement to have such a clause at the very last hour. In the days since he blew up the agreement, the mayor has made the sunset clause into a line in the sand, accusing hundreds of other school districts and the NYSED of countenancing ‘sham’ evaluation systems because they had sunset clauses. At the same time, Bloomberg’s account of the sunset clause and of the events that led to him blowing up the agreement over that clause have been publicly refuted and discredited by the President of the CSA, NYS Commissioner of Education John King and Governor Cuomo himself. New York City teachers have nothing to fear from putting that issue to NYSED for a decision, should the mayor continue in his fits of pique.

    Real political debate requires a honest airing of disagreements. The suggestion that Michael Mulgrew gas given away “collective bargaining rights” or that I sold a “bill of goods” in talking about the role of collective bargaining in determining teacher evaluations are misrepresentations, and do not advance the honest debate that members of the UFT deserve.

    • lol, Mr. Casey, your comment reminds me of a scene from one of the Dark Knight movies where the protagonist starts off by saying “you see, it’s all very complicated …” and ends by informing the antagonist that he no longer owns the company.

      Two other observations:
      1) collective bargaining really isn’t that complicated. A union negotiates on behalf of its members. There is no union to negotiate if the governor steps in, now is there? Normally, a union would dislike a politician stepping in like this. Only with our union do we have an agent who has no problem giving up that right and letting the governor decide.
      2) But fine. you’re the union people. It’s your cal to make and you’ve made it. But to imply that those who don’t see it your way are dishonest is deplorable at best and, frankly, you ought to apologize.

      But you won’t. Instead, you’ll just say that the opposing caucus doesn’t understand the basic principle of collective bargaining, as if those who don’t share your point of view simply can’t understand the very principle itself (which you did here with your comment).
      3) To which I’d like to suggest something: Just cede control of the bargaining agent to MORE and let’s just see how well they understand the complicated matters of collective rights and union strength and member representation.

      We’ll be by in May to pick up the keys 😀
      (unless you put this darn election off any further)

  13. Dr. Joy Hochstadt, Esquire

    Test scores are okay as long as the students are tested at the beginning of the year and the end of the year and the teacher is evaluated only on the basis of how much did these self same students learn with that teacher in that one year. In fact, taking each set of students from were they were in September to where they are in June adjusts for all the inherent and other differences apart from the teacher teaching that subject that year. It is the subjecive evaluation of the Principal who gets double points/bonus for getting rid of a $100,049.00 than of a $50,000.00 teacher that scares me the most.

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