Monday, December 28, 2020

Transparency From UFT on Observations and Evaluations Negotiations Is a Must!

So we are almost at the end of the year and it is safe to say that no one has had an official observation or evaluation as of yet. Yes, administrators can pop in on teachers either virtually or in person any time they wish to. I welcome such informal "pop ins." This virtual teaching is new to all of us and I would welcome a second set of eyes and ears. This is what observations
should be about. Helping a teacher grow. 

But of course, using APPR in these times is like trying to fit a round peg into a too small square hole. There is no way to measure student progress. The Regents have been canceled and there is no way, no how that there will be standardized testing this year. So what to do?

Look to our union and its leadership for direction and for having our backs unconditionally. 

WTF did I just say? I think the cleaning solution emanating from the kitchen is affecting my brain. 

At the DA of December 16 Mike Mulgrew was asked what is going on with observations.

His response started off well...

There are no observations, and there is no APPR. State has said will be done through collective bargaining. DOE wants to use S and U system. 

OK, what is wrong with that? The state has shown wisdom and left it up to each district and it's bargaining partner to come to an agreement. That's how it should be. As for the S or U, yes it can be manipulated, but I'll accept it. 

Numbers tell us that's not great. When you use authentic student learning, not standardized testing, teachers are better off. 

Describe actual student learning instead of standardized testing. How then are we better off? What about the rest of the crap teachers who fall under APPR are subject to? That can be easily manipulated. And what numbers are we talking about? Specifics please. 

We get thousands of Us because people had fights with admin

Yeah, and thousands of ineffectives and  developings because people had fights with admins. Best way to end shitty observations and evaluations at the hands of admins? Start making them accountable for lying, cheating, and bullshitting on evaluations. 

We want to figure out a baseline of authentic learning, only for this year. Will only be used this year. None at this point.

So we are, or rather, the UFT along with the DOE will figure out what is authentic learning? Is there a baseline to figure out how to get a baseline of what authentic learning is? Is it not possible that authentic learning will look different in classes which are face to face than remote? Or even devices used in remote learning? For instance, I am sure the students at an elementary school in Riverdale have all the latest laptops with all the bells, whistles, and doo dads. The students in the South Bronx are stuck with shitty, shitty iPads. 

May finish by early January

A deal might be in place by the end of January? Will teachers be allowed to have any input? Will teachers be allowed to vote on such a deal? 

But say if there is a deal. With February coming next what with it being a short month and a vacation to boot, evaluations probably won't commence until March. Is that fair to the hard working teachers to have their careers and livelihoods judged for such a short amount of teaching? It'll be less than eighty instructional days to judge teachers on some makeshift, never before tried evaluation system. Geez, it might be longer than March for the first observations. Administrators will have to be trained, no? 

And what is the rush to have this by the end of January? The DOE wants it? FUCK THEM! How often do we want something and the DOE slow walks it, takes their sweet ass time? Let's turn the tables. Slow walk this. Wait until May to come to an agreement. 

We also need protocols, with people demanding things from online classrooms.

Good answer. We do need protocols. We need guardrails. What are they going to be?

We have silliness of demands they get access as a teacher into my classroom. What that tells me is admin is incompetent. If it's a school program, they have access and don't know how to run their own programs.

And these silly demands can creep into an evaluation agreement. This is what keeps teachers up at night. That incompetent admins that will put into practice a makeshift, never before tried evaluation system. Teachers really don't  trust the UFT not to cave to the DOE's whims. 

Let's do something different. Agree with the DOE and CSA that it is verkakte out there and try something new. No observations or evaluations. Let's think outside the box. Let's have true collaboration for the remainder of the year. Teachers and admins we can get together and sing Kumbaya and work together as a team to do what's right for the students and the communities of our schools. 

Know what the UFT can do? Be transparent. Why can't the UFT share with us along every step of the way the process of it's negotiations with the DOE? Why wait for a once a month meeting in which only by the grace of luck, someone asks Mulgrew a question about observations and evaluations?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Hey UFT, Will We Ever Be Made Whole for Losing Spring Break?

Not wanting to sound like a broken record, I shall forego mentioning how I have been patiently waiting for several months as to whether or not a transcript exists of the October arbitration meeting/hearing concerning our retro.

Instead, I would like to openly ask the UFT as to the whereabouts of the monies we are owed for giving up our Spring break this past April. 

We, meaning the rank and file, receive zero voluntary updates from the UFT and the only time we get info is if some teacher is lucky enough to get past the guardrails during a town hall or a delegate assembly. 

So UFT, where is our spring break monies. It is now almost a year since we had the spring break rug pulled out from under us, show us the money.

At the very least, show us, the dues paying members, something concrete, like a paper trail, that we can see so that we know it is moving forward. 

Thanks to Arthur Goldstein and his blog NYCEducator, exec boards meetings, town halls, and DA's are now archived. The Crack Team found three instances of the S word mentioned.

There was the most recent DA of December 16, 2020...

"...City has given notice that tomorrow is an instructional day. Last year they forced us to report during spring break. We had a ruling that remote is instructional and when we're out of COVID our first act will be to seek compensation."

The town hall of October 15, 2020...

Q: What about medical accommodations after December 31st and any updates on Spring Break?  

M: When arbitration is back up, we will move forward on Spring Break. Medical accommodations are based on a medical condition. We would have to do another one in Jan. Same documentation and everything.

Town Hall of September 2, 2020...

"...Dealing with the craziness that included Spring break which still needs to be dealt with."

 So many questions. Let's start with the DA from December. The statement does going to arbitration to seek compensation pertain to NYC school not closing during a major snowstorm? Or is this being lumped in with our missing of spring break? Why when COVID is over will the UFT wait to seek compensation? Why not now? 3020-a hearings are going on. The DOE doesn't seem to want to wait until "COVID is over to ruin a teacher's life. Why must the DOE wait to go to arbitration? 

For the answer President Mulgrew gave at the town hall of October 15, again, it seems that arbitration is now back up. Where in the pipeline is our monies? How long does the process take? 

But just six weeks earlier we were told that the craziness of Spring break still needs to be dealt with. So where in the process of recovering our monies, were we on September 2? 

This is a trust issue. There are too many stories too often. Worse, there is no transparency. Why can't the rank and file be privy to the process? Why can't we verify the process is happening? For instance, yes, the transcript of the arbitration hearing about our retro. 

Two instances that show a disdain for reality have troubled me. One of the many reasons why teachers take the spoken word from the UFT with a grain of salt. One was an answer to a question Mulgrew gave back at the town hall in November. He was asked when is the DOE sending out emails that accommodations were good until the end of the school year. And before I go on, it was a good thing the UFT did in getting those accommodations extended without getting a second's doctor's note. I'll give credit where credit is due.

The teacher was rightly concerned. It was November 23, and she had yet to hear back. However, I did at the time of the town hall. Mulgrew replied that it takes time and that the DOE sends emails out in batches going in alphabetical order. Z is for Zucker. Z is the last letter in the alphabet. I go last. But I got my email. This is making an answer up as you go along. 

The same crap happened at this month's DA. Mulgrew was asked something about the vaccine and when and how teachers will receive it. He rambled on for a few minutes, seemingly making it up as he went along. 

 I mean come on! I was texting back and forth with a member of The Crack Team in both instances. We both couldn't believe our ears.

This then becomes a credibility problem. I would rather hear, "I don't have any fucking idea," or at the very least put someone else on to answer the question or say "I will find out."

Meanwhile, where is our Spring break monies? Give us a real update. I'm owed about $4,500 and would like to have it. We don't want days added to our CAR. We don't want comp time. We want cold hard cash. Preferably, through direct deposit.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Hey UFT, Show the Rank and File the Retro Arbitration Transcript!

 I am so not into today's Delegate Assembly. I usually sign up right away, but I am getting bored with the
same old same old. Besides I am kind of fed up.

Back in October's town hall, I asked a fairly innocuous  question...

"Is there a transcript of the arbitration hearing concerning our retro check and if so, when will it be made available to rank and file."

I received an email back from "John." In the email he shared with me that he is  following up with those that were involved and will get back to me. The email was sent on October 20. Today is December 16. 

I again asked the question at last month's town hall. As of today I did not get an email back.

I get it. I am not going to get picked to ask a question in a town hall or a DA? I don't genuflect. I am not a member of Unity. I am not a chapter leader. But at least have the decency to not only email me back but to answer my question honestly. 

So I am typing this and listening to the DA at the same time. I pressed zero as soon as I answered the call for the DA and spoke to Michael who took my question and was going to relay it. I am waiting.

What is the UFT hiding? If there isn't a transcript, let me know. If there is a transcript why can't I or any other member of the rank and see it? Doesn't the UFT wish for transparency? Transparency would easily do away with any rumors, innuendoes, and accusations that are going around concerning the leadership of the UFT. 

I'll make it easy for the UFT. I'll agree to go to a private room at 52 Broadway with other Unity people. Let me read the transcript without taking notes. Heck, I'll leave my phone at the security desk in the lobby. Better,  I'll strip down to my rather fashionable boxer briefs to assure there is no monkey business. 

If there is a transcript, I'd rather deal with the UFT in knowing if there is one and actually being able to read it. I guess the other method would be filing a FOIL request with the city and asking for it that way. I'm sure I can find someone, somewhere, in a different caucus other than Unity to file the FOIL request.

What's bothering me, what got me going about seeing the transcript is something Mulgrew said at the October DA which raised my eyebrow...

...and then on October 2 I asked for confirmation they were processing payment. Asked again.

 He knew something was up on October 2. Twelve days before we were told we would not be getting our retro monies on  October 15. There is no reason we could not have gotten a heads up sooner. This is what makes members question the UFT. This is what makes the rank and file nuts. 

By the way, the question portion of the DA has ended. My questions wasn't chosen. What a shocker.

Let's try this again. Is there or isn't there a transcript of the arbitration concerning the retro monies? A simple yes or no will suffice.