Wednesday, December 21, 2016



Oh oh. As usual the devil is in the details and the devil ain't looking too good at first glance.

We all got the email from Mike Mulgrew espousing the latest ($5 bet we are going through this again in 2 years) evaluation system. As usual it seems that Mike pulled a George Steinbrenner. He was negotiating against himself.

The Crack Team and I went over Mulgrew's email with a fine tooth comb, but several things raised (and upon further reading I am sure more will) our eyebrows here at SBSB and our raised eyebrows raised our BS perception.

The new system, when fully implemented, will include more authentic student learning measures — from essays and projects to demonstrations of proficiency in physical education and the arts — that genuinely demonstrate what we do as teachers and what our students are learning.

When I was reading this email at lunch today I just happened to be sitting with the gym and music teachers at my school. Fate.

Anyway, proficiency is defined as;
1. the state of being proficient; skill; expertness:
So students must become experts in a sport or physical skill? How do we in the schools, many of whom are athletically spastic decide what is or isn't? How do we decide what is proficient when it comes to the arts? 

I can't sing a note. I can't play an instrument. There is no amount of instruction that will get me to be able to be proficient in either. Now, I do enjoy listening to music. For those that have read my blog you know how much of a Rush fan I am. But does that make me proficient in the arts? Will appreciating a painting make me proficient? 

Same with sports and I will use my son as an example. Since he has been 6 he has been in baseball training. He has been lucky enough to play travel and school baseball. He's a good catcher but he has some things to work on. He has a bit of a long swing that we've been trying to correct for years and he likes to pull the ball. With all the training he's been through, and could it be the instructors fault, should he not be able to overcome those hitches in his swing? Or does he have a mental thing going? Baseball is 90% mental, no? 

But again, to put the onus on the impossible is just wrong. Yes, anyone can throw a baseball or play the riff from "Smoke on the Water," (I can!) but not everyone can pitch like Koufax or sing like Freddie Mercury.

We went into those negotiations saying that any agreement must reduce the impact of standardized test scores

Reduce the impact? I'm so confused here so I checked out ICEUFT Blog for further clarification...
As for the rest of the agreement, it looks (like) test scores will count for half of teacher ratings instead of the current 40%.

I'd like to know more about what James meant, but here is the thing. Aren't we, and I mean we by teachers, parents, educators, grown-ups, etc... holding all the cards here? The opt-out movement is still gaining steam. The public sees through the charade now. Why are we folding when everyone at the table just has a pair and we have a flush?

Under the new system, there will still be four observation options, but we’ve expanded the choices for teachers rated Effective or Highly Effective in the prior year.  Starting in the 2017–18 school year, teachers rated Effective — in addition to those rated Highly Effective — may choose Observation Options 3, which includes a minimum of four informal, unannounced observations plus teachers agree to open their classrooms to colleagues for at least two non-evaluative classroom visits. Highly Effective teachers may also now choose Observation Option 4, which includes a minimum of three informal, unannounced observations plus three times when teachers open their classrooms for a visiting colleague to observe and learn from their teaching.

Isn't the deal of negotiating is to reduce onerous crap that the rank and file doesn't want not to increase it? Here is an example. I own a restaurant in the Bronx. The law requires one (or it can be two) health inspections a year. Now do I as a Bronx restaurant owner go to the city and ask for more inspections a year? NO! But in UFT world more 9pardon the pun) is good and less is very, very bad.

By the way, I am leading the charge to change the law regarding car inspections in New York State. I can't live with myself knowing that my car is inspected only once a year. I insist that my car is inspected bi-monthly.

Seriously, who thinks up this shit that more observations is a good thing and a win?

What is most disturbing is this. The timing of the announcement. Two days before Christmas break, two days right after an executive board meeting in which the high school seats are controlled by MORE. Something stinks and it ain't coming from New Jersey.

Right before vacation so there is no real time for teachers to get together in their schools to discuss what they really think about the new evaluation system and to learn more and to contact the UFT to share what they think. Remember, UFT offices are conveniently closed next week.

This news could have also been shared at exec board meeting this pat Monday but wasn't Heck, at the very least it could have been shared at the very least that an agreement was near and give all members parameters of the agreement. I guarantee you this...

If MORE was not in control of the high school seats this would news would have been out on Monday.

But now comes the hard part for the UFT. Let this process be open and fair! Let there be true debate and feedback in the chapters. Let the DA be a source for free and fair debate. Share all information with all members of each and every executive board. And one more thing.

After a sufficient amount of time (one month?) with the rank and file having access to all sides of the debate allow us, the teachers, the ones closest to the action to vote up or down on this evaluation system. We know what is best for us not 52 Broadway.

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