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Friday, July 15, 2011

Ed In The Apple Gets It all Wrong

Many bloggers out there right now believe that the UFT has decidedly abandoned members. The blog "Ed In The Apple" sometimes has some interesting stuff, but in the latest article, gets it all wrong, in my opinion, of course.
First, Mike Bloomberg's legacy has already been created, and this is the widely recognized failure to improve education in New York City for any child, and the failure to hire a competent steward at the helm of the Board of Education who could guide reform in the right direction.
Second, The Peer Intervention Plus program violates the contract in that the PIP+ observer works for the Principal, and does not do pre-observations - or post- observations - and most UFT reps. are advising their members not to sign up.

Betsy Combier

Now That the “No Layoff” Plan Is In Place Can a Teacher Contract Be Far Behind? Bloomberg Must Extinguish Failed Klein Policies and Begin To Create His Own Legacy.
“Except as expressly provided herein, this Agreement shall not in any way constitute a modification of, limitation on or a waiver of any provision of any collective bargaining agreement between the parties or past practices”
“No UFT-represented employee shall be laid off from the date of this Agreement through the last day of work day of the 2011-2012 school year …” After months of threatening 4166 teacher layoffs the Mayor folded and agreed to a one-year “no layoff” agreement, a one-year suspension of study sabbaticals for 2012-2013, and a rather dense description regarding the assignment and possible absorption of ATRs.
With the layoff issue off the table, at least for a year, can the Union and the Mayor move forward and negotiate a successor agreement to the contract which ended November, 2009?
Quietly, the Department is moving toward changing classroom practice through implementation of the Common Core Standards and creating space within the school day for teachers to meet in facilitated common planning time.
If meaningful change on the school level, in is to take place the Mayor must willing to discard Klein policies and by doing so create a new legacy as his third term inexorably moves toward a conclusion. Klein abjured the classroom, he posited that personnel and structural changes would impact classroom practice, and used the bully pulpit and the power of the media, aka spin, to both advocate and claim success.
The Mayor trumpets continuing increases in graduation rates,
The four-year graduation rate in New York City rose to a record 65% in 2010, Mayor Bloomberg announced … touting the numbers as a sign his administration’s reforms have boosted student success.
The pro-Bloomberg Wall Street Journal  casts a cloud on the Mayor’s plaudits,
The enthusiasm was damped somewhat by the state Department
of Education, which pointed out that most of the graduates weren’t ready for college. In New York City, only 35% of those who graduated were deemed prepared for college.
Statewide, the graduation rate increased to 73.4% from 71.8%. But the state said that of those who started high school statewide in 2006, only 36.7% who graduated were ready for college four years later. In New York City, 22% were ready for college after four years of high school.
With deeply flawed, unconstrained credit recovery, easier exams and questions about the grading of Regents exams the bloom is off the Klein rose.
Perhaps the most deeply flawed of all the Klein faux “innovations” is the policy which requires that excessed teachers are not placed in other schools but placed in a pool that replaces absent teachers on a day-to-day basis, at a cost to the system of over $100 million a
The theory: every single teacher entering a school must be chosen by the principal, with strong suggestions that new teachers will be more malleable and effective than senior teachers. There is no evidence that this policy has improved student achievement, there is evidence that the policy has eroded student achievement.
1. The number of new teachers who have been discontinued, aka, fired, or have had their probation extended has increased sharply. Principals have been making poor new hire choices.
2. Teacher attrition remains high. About half of all teachers continue to leave within five years, and, the rate is much higher in lower achieving schools. A February, 2011 report from the Alliance for NYC Schools Research shows, This study reveals that 55% of the teachers who entered middle schools between 2002 and 2009 left these schools within three years. Further, nearly 60% of departing middle school teachers left the New York City public school system altogether and another 23% either moved to schools that did not include the middle grades (Grades 6-8) or took on non-teaching positions.
3. In addition to the appalling attrition rate under the Klein created Open Market; over 3,000 teachers a year move from school to school. A recent analysis,  Who Leaves: Teacher Attrition and Student Achievement is enlightening,
Almost a quarter of entering public-school teachers leave teaching within the first three years (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). The rates are higher in schools with low academic achievement, leading many to conclude that policies to reduce teacher attrition are needed in order to improve student achievement.
High attrition would be particularly problematic if those leaving were the more able teachers. While teachers who have stronger academic backgrounds, measured by test scores and the competitiveness of their undergraduate institutions, are more likely to leave teaching. Teacher retention may affect student learning in several ways. First, in high-turnover schools, students may be more likely to have inexperienced teachers who we know are less effective on average.
Second, high turnover creates instability in schools, making it more difficult to have coherent instruction. This instability may be particularly problematic in schools trying to implement reforms, as new teachers coming in each year are likely to repeat mistakes, rather than improve upon reform implementation.
Third, high turnover can be costly in that time and effort is needed to continuously recruit teachers.
In addition to all these factors, turnover can reduce student learning if more effective teachers are the ones more likely to leave.
Teachers are more likely to stay in schools having higher student achievement, and teachers – especially white teachers – are more likely to stay in schools with higher proportions of white students.
Teachers who score higher on tests of academic achievement are more likely to leave, as are teachers whose home town is farther from the school in which they teach.
Attributes of teachers and the students they teach appear to interact in important ways. In particular, teachers having stronger qualifications (as measured by general-knowledge certification-exam scores) are more likely to quit or transfer than are less-qualified teachers, especially if they teach in low-achieving schools
The ATR pool concept is a failure, it not only does not improve student achievement there is an excellent argument that it reduces student achievement, at an enormous financial cost. The ending of the policy would place more experienced teachers in the classroom, and, free up more than $100 millions a year.
I hear teachers saying, “why negotiate with the current mayor, wait him out, in 2 1/2 years we’ll have a new mayor.”
There is absolutely no guarantee that the “next mayor” will be willing to negotiate away contract clauses or policies that teachers don’t want, or, negotiate a decent raise. The more time that goes by the more difficult it will be to change what are becoming “long established” policies.
Seize every opportunity is a rule of bargaining.
Getting to a resolution to the ATR mess is difficult, however, we have a guide. The District 79 Reorganization Plan  provides a framework.
A few suggestions:
1. Teachers with both age and service time can be offered non-pensionable one-time cash buyouts (see UFT Contract Article 17 F).
2. Teachers with, perhaps, five years of consecutive satisfactory ratings can be assigned to vacancies within their district.
3. Teachers who received an unsatisfactory rating can have their service assessed by a joint labor-management team. If placed in a “not qualified” category, see #4,
4. Teacher identified as “not qualified” in #3 above must participate in Peer Intervention Plus Program.
Both the Union and the Department will have “problems” with the recommendations supra, however these or other ideas can provide a basis to move beyond the ATR pool debacle.
The ATR process is poor policy that not only does not fulfill it’s goal, staffing schools with more effective teachers, it has achieved the opposite.
Eliminating the ATR pool, simply placing excess teachers into vacancies in their district and the implementation of the new teacher-principal evaluation law would remove a roadblock to moving forward with a new contract and a more collaborative relationship between management and labor.
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  1. Retired and No Longer Public Enemy No. 1 
    It won’t be long now; the clock ticks inexorably.
    Without question, it is the goal of the Mayor and Chancellor to “wait it out,” in a manner reminiscent of the Biblical forty year march through the desert, which would assure that the last of the generation that had lived in Egypt (or had taught under the “old system”) was gone. One of the hallmarks of Klein and his followers has been the effort toward the complete eradication of “institutional memory.”
  2. Nowhere else does the combination of experience, wisdom, and maturity make an employee who is charged to work with young people undesirable and unemployable.
    What a shameful waste of human potential- that of both the kids and of their teachers. Then again, what could I possibly know? Forty one years with students, many awards, and plenty of thanks from students throughout my career make me useless when it comes to the “new ways” of the Tweed Board of Education.

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