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Friday, January 9, 2015

Gary Stern: The pressure is on NYSUT's Magee

 Harrison's Karen Magee promised to make NYSUT stronger. Now teachers want their new president to stand up to Gov. Cuomo.

Gary Stern

Harrison's Karen Magee promised to make NYSUT stronger. Now teachers want their new president to stand up to Gov. Cuomo.

"I'm militant."

That's what Harrison's Karen Magee told me a year ago when she was campaigning to be elected president of NYSUT, the state's largest teachers union. She was making a case that NYSUT was perceived as weak, "cowering in the corner," and that she would reassert the union's position with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Education Department.

Magee now gets the chance to show how militant she can be.

As the new legislative session gets rolling this week, many rank-and-file public school teachers feel like they are under attack. Cuomo has promised to break the public school monopoly – which sure sounds like code for "unions." He wants to tighten the screws on New York's much-loathed teacher evaluation system as a way to get rid of "bad teachers." His recent comment that teachers "found guilty of sexually abusing students" are still in classrooms has drawn a furious response from teachers on social media.

Magee told me this week that NYSUT is prepared to fight back.

"My membership has been galvanized over the governor's comments," she said. "Nothing is off the table."

She was short on details but implied that big things are coming. I think New York State United Teachers wanted to give the governor a chance to bury his dad. But make no mistake: Teachers want to know NYSUT's battle plans.
On the defensive

Magee was elected president in April, unseating incumbent Richard Iannuzzi. She had served as head of the Harrison Association of Teachers for 11 years and was one of the most visible labor leaders in the Lower Hudson Valley. After a falling out between Iannuzzi and his second-in-command, Andy Pallotta, Magee wound up atop Pallotta's breakaway ticket.

If you talk to 10 teachers, you'll get at least seven or eight different views on NYSUT's leadership. Some want traditional, tough labor leadership while others might prefer a more flexible, white-collarish approach. NYSUT has 600,000 highly educated people to keep happy.

Today, though, there is a real concern among not only teachers but many school leaders and parents that Cuomo is pushing the vision of anti-union, hedge fund guys who see charter schools as the answer to "fixing" schools.

"The real audience is those who want to privatize public education and will gain profits from doing so," Magee said.

Magee took office hoping to work with Cuomo to rewrite New York's teacher evaluation system. NYSUT's main complaint was that some teachers are graded, in part, on student test scores. It looked like Magee scored an early victory when Cuomo proposed a two-year "safety net" that would prevent teachers from being fired directly as a result of test scores.

Then Cuomo vetoed his own bill. Many predicted he would do so when NYSUT did not endorse his re-election.

Losing ground

Now Cuomo wants to toughen the evaluation system so that poor teachers can be more easily identified and dismissed. Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has volunteered how he can do so – in part by doubling the weight of student test scores in some teachers' evaluations. This is the exact opposite of what NYSUT and many teachers want.

Such a move would have a gloomy effect on the morale of many quality suburban teachers who already think the evaluation system is a time-killing sham.

When it comes to getting rid of abusive teachers, New York has gotten much better results since reforming its previously infamous hearing process in 2012. New York City's "rubber room" cases, always the focus of the problem, have declined sharply.

"Either the governor doesn't understand that he was part of (reforming) the process or he made a sensational comment just to be sensational," Magee said. "No one has an interest in protecting someone who wants to harm a student."

Though Cuomo is fired up about teacher evaluations, he hasn't proposed one potentially responsible way to remove ineffective teachers: a system of renewable tenure. Many school district officials would like to hear it discussed.

Magee led a demonstration on New Year's Day outside the Executive Mansion in Albany, using a megaphone to yell at Cuomo inside. She may need to tap a bit more militancy if she's going to give teachers a voice on New York's rapidly changing educational landscape.

Twitter: @garysternNY

3020-a and ADVANCE

When you are charged with incompetency, and you believe that you are a good teacher, one of the first things you should do is decide whether or not you plan to fight the charges.

As I have often written on this blog before, I am of the opinion that unless you are at retirement in age and years (25-55), unless you plan to move out of state and/or marry a millionaire (or are one yourself - congratulations!), and unless you are comfortable living with the charges in your profile forever - (you are on the problem code), you should NOT resign or settle.

Why? (remember, this is not "legal" advice, as I am not an attorney - but arbitration proceedings are not legal proceedings in a Court with a judge, either).

Because the 3020-a due process allows you to put everything that happened in your school into a record: the transcript. That's what the NYC DOE and NYSUT don't want. They do not want documentation of how your principal, assistant principal, or anyone in the school violated the law, rights of children, or rights of anyone. In that sense, if they - the DOE and NYSUT - believe that you may "spill the beans" on school personnel or UFT negligence, they will try their very best to get you to resign or settle, so a record is not made. The UFT, NYSUT, and the NYC DOE are protecting each other from the liability connected with your claims against them. I think anyone charged or harassed should immediately file a Notice of Claim.

The new teacher evaluation system which mandates Measures of Student Learning (MOSL), ADVANCE, was a long time in the making.

Advance, New York City’s new system of teacher evaluation and development, was designed to provide the City’s teachers with accurate feedback on their performance and the support necessary to improve their practice, with the goal of improved student outcomes to ensure all students graduate college and career ready. 
Though Advance was formally established on June 1, 2013 in alignment with the New York State Education Department's education law 3012-c on teacher and school leader performance reviews, its design was informed by three years of pilot work in New York City’s schools. Advance uses multiple measures – including observations of classroom practice, review of teachers’ artifacts, student outcome data, and student feedback – to provide teachers, school leaders, and families with a more accurate understanding of teacher effectiveness than ever before.

For an overview of the major components of Advance, click the boxes below. 
All teachers receive:
§  Assessment of their practice using Charlotte Danielson’s 2013 Framework for Teaching, including a greater emphasis on components of teaching related to their classroom environment and instruction.
§  Multiple classroom observations by their principal or other administrator, with teachers having a choice between two options for length and frequency of observations.
§  Review of up to eight artifacts (or documents) demonstrating their efforts to plan and prepare instruction and participate in their professional community.
§  Feedback on all observations and artifacts of teacher practice.
§  Student Feedback via the Tripod Student Survey (for teachers in grades 3-12 only; will not count towards annual rating in 2013-14 school year).

40 percent: State and Local Measures of Student Learning (MOSL)
  • Each teacher will have an initial planning conference and end of year conference with an administrator to discuss, then follow up on, expectations and goals for the year for the teacher’s performance and student learning outcomes.
  • All teachers will receive a summative rating by September 1st of the following school year. Measure of Teacher Practice ratings will be available in June at the close of the school year.
  • All principals will be certified as lead evaluators annually by the NYCDOE.
  • All teachers rated “Developing” or “Ineffective” will implement a Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP) in the following school year to provide clear feedback, goals, and a timeline for professional growth.
  • All teachers rated “Ineffective” will also receive observations from an Independent Validator in the following school year to provide an objective, third party evaluation of the teacher’s classroom practice.

  • Every teacher will have two measures of student learning, each worth 20 percent of the overall rating:
      • State Measure – Selected by the principal, this measure is based on student growth on state assessments (whenever available) or results on other assessments with comparable rigor taken by their students.
      • Local Measure – Recommended by a school committee appointed by the principal and UFT Chapter Chair and approved by the principal*, each teacher’s local measure will be based on student growth on assessments and growth measures selected from a menu of approved options  for each grade and subject.
      * If the Committee and principal do not agree on measures, the local measure for all teachers in the school will default to schoolwide growth on the State assessments administered in that school.

    ·         Other System Requirements
    For more detailed information please watch the webinar or view New York City’s approved APPR plan on the New York State Education Department website.

    Event Details

    Welcome to the registration page for Information Session on the New System of Teacher Evaluation and Development
    For your convenience, Superintendents are offering information sessions on the Teacher Evaluation and Development System. Please be aware that sessions will begin promptly at 4:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m.
    Please follow the instructions below carefully in order to register for this event:

    1. To select a date, please view the following table to determine when your District is hosting a session. 
    2. To register, have ready the following required information:
          a. First and Last Name 
          b. E-mail address (DOE email address preferred)
          c. Job Title/Job Function
          d. District
          e. Your School DBN
          f. Meeting Location Name (listed in table above)
    3. Once you have decided on the date and meeting location, go to the dropdown menu on the upper right, and please select a date to attend.
    4. Select QUANTITY.
    5. Click on the GREEN REGISTER button. 
    District 64 schools are not subject to ED Law 3012-C and therefore these sessions have been prioritized for teachers affected by the law. Additional supports for District 64 will be offered in the fall. 

    Due to limited seating availability, you must attend on the date that you have selected. If your availability changes or you have any questions, please contact
    Meeting DateSuperintendent / Co-LeaderLocation NameAddressCity
    6/10/2013Buffie Simmons / Karen Watts (District 17)The High School for Global Citizenship883 Classon AvenueBrooklyn
    6/10/2013Rhonda D. Farkas (District 22)Andries Hudde2500 Nostrand AvenueBrooklyn
    6/11/2013Barbara Freeman / Karen Watts (District 13)Brooklyn Technical High School29 Ft. Greene PlaceBrooklyn
    6/11/2013Beverly Ffolkes-Bryant (District 28)Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School91-30 Metropolitan AvenueQueens
    6/11/2013Elizabeth A. White / Carron Staple (District 11)Harry S Truman High School750 Baychester AvenueBronx
    6/11/2013Erminia Claudio / Aimee Horowitz (District 31)The Michael J Petrides School715 Ocean TerraceStaten Island
    6/11/2013Madelene Chan / Juan Mendez (District 24)I.S. 061 Leonardo Da Vinci98-50 50 AvenueQueens
    6/12/2013Beverly Ffolkes-Bryant / Juan Mendez (District 28)Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School 91-30 Metropolitan AvenueQueens
    6/13/2013Joyce Stallings-Harte / Karen Watts (District 19)Brooklyn Lab School999 Jamaica AvenueBrooklyn
    6/13/2013Michelle Lloyd-Bey / Tamika Matheson (District 27)John Adams High School 101-01 Rockaway Boulevard Queens 
    6/13/2013Philip Composto (District 30) I.S. 145 Joseph Pulitzer 33-34 80 Street Queens 
    6/17/2013Donald Conyers / Anthony Lodico (District 4)Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics260 Pleasant AvenueManhattan
    6/17/2013Elsa Nunez (District 6) I.S.218 Salome Urena4600 Broadway Manhattan
    6/17/2013Rhonda D. Farkas (District 22) J.H.S. 014 Shell Bank 2424 Batchelder Street Brooklyn 
    6/17/2013Yolanda Torres / Elaine Lindsey (District 7)University Heights Secondary School 701 St. Anns Avenue Bronx 
    6/18/2013Ainslie Cumberbatch (District 23) The Waverly School 104 Sutter Avenue Brooklyn 
    6/18/2013Alicja Winnicki / Aimee Horowitz / Tamika Matheson (District 14)The High School for Enterprise, Business, & Technology 850 Grand Street Brooklyn 
    6/18/2013Anita Saunders / Juan Mendez (District 26) Francis Lewis High School 58-20 Utopia Parkway Queens 
    6/18/2013Anita Skop (District 15) Sunset Park High School 153 35th Street Brooklyn 
    6/18/2013Daniella Phillips (District 1) P.S. 020 Anna Silver 166 Essex Street Manhattan
    6/18/2013Danielle DiMango (District 25)I.S. 025 Adrien Block 34-65 192 Street Queens 
    6/18/2013Gale Reeves (District 5)Frederick Douglass Academy 2581 7th Avenue Manhattan
    6/18/2013Ilene Altschul (District 3) M.S. 256 Academic & Athletic Excellence 154 West 93 Street Manhattan
    6/18/2013Karina Constantino (District 20) New Utrecht High School 1601 80 Street Brooklyn 
    6/18/2013Lillian Druck (District 32)J.H.S. 383 Philippa Schuyler 1300 Greene Avenue Brooklyn 
    6/18/2013Mariano Guzman (District 2) Norman Thomas High School 111 East 33rd Street Manhattan
    6/18/2013Melodie Mashel / Elaine Lindsey (District 10) West Bronx Academy for the Future 500 East Fordham Road Bronx 
    6/18/2013Timothy Behr / Carron Staple (District 8) Herbert H Lehman High School 3000 East Tremont Avenue Bronx 
    6/19/2013Ainslee Cumberbatch / Tamika Matheson (District 23)The Waverly School 104 Sutter Avenue  Brooklyn
    6/19/2013Beverly Wilkins (District 18) High School for Innovation in Advertising & Media1600 Rockaway ParkwayBrooklyn 
    6/19/2013Evelyn Santiago / Karen Watts (District 16) Boys and Girls High School 1700 Fulton Street Brooklyn 
    6/19/2013Isabel DiMola (District 21) I.S. 228 David A. Boody 228 Avenue S Brooklyn 
    6/19/2013Lenon Murray / Juan Mendez (District 29)Humanities & Arts Magnet High School207-01 116th Avenue Queens 
    6/24/2013Danielle DiMango / Juan Mendez (District 25)I.S. 025 Adrien Block 34-65 192 Street Queens 
    6/24/2013Dolores Esposito / Carron Staple (District 9) Jonathan Levin High School for Media & Communications 240 East 172 Street Bronx 
    6/24/2013Myrna Rodriguez (District 12) P.S. X811 1434 Longfellow Avenue Bronx 
    6/25/2013Anthony Lodico / Marisol Bradbury (MAN HS)Frank McCourt High School145 West 84 Street Manhattan
    6/25/2013Elaine Lindsey (BX HS) Bronx Regional High School 1010 Rev J.A. Polite Avenue Bronx 
    6/25/2013Myrna Rodriguez (District 12)P.S. X811 1434 Longfellow Avenue Bronx 

    Have questions about Information Session on the New System of Teacher Evaluation and Development? Contact NYC Department of Education - Office of Teacher Effectiveness

    This process I cited above about NYSUT and the NYC DOE wanting you to settle or resign was made very clear when married teacher Natalya Sokolson was sexually harassed by OSI Investigator Lawrence Scott in her school PS 329 in Coney Island.

    Natalya Sokolson (with Special Commissioner Richard Condon, inset)

    She reported Scott to OSI and was charged with all sorts of misconduct, inside her school building and outside, after she was re-assigned.
    NYSUT Attorney Mitch Rubenstein
     Her assigned NYSUT Attorney, Mitch Rubenstein,  told her that none of Lawrence Scott's actions were relevant to her charges and she should - MUST - resign.

    Really?? What if the principal called in Lawrence Scott and had him meet alone with Natalya in a room without lights, to see if she could be given the "treatment" for butting heads with administration? How do the actions of Scott have nothing to do with the charges?

    I met her in the waiting room at 49-51 Chambers Street, 6th floor, where the 3020-a hearings take place, the day she was to sign her resignation papers, after she fired Mr. Rubenstein who had tried very hard to get Natalya to resign.

    NYSUT Attorney Mitch Rubenstein
     She got all of the charges of misconduct that she supposedly did inside her school dismissed at her 3020-a by Arbitrator Berg. Then Berg ruled that Natalya was actually bi-sexual or a lesbian, because when she was re-assigned to the very same building that OSI is located in, 65 Court Street, she was accused of asking to go out after work with some women that worked there, and she was terminated for improper conduct outside of the school and not part of her performance as a teacher.

    Arbitrator Berg had to make this decision to save whatever remnant of respectability OSI could salvage after this case was exposed in the NY POST (which Natalya was also charged with, making the DOE look bad). They should have charged me with that, not Natalya.

     In conclusion, I believe that NYSUT and the NYC DOE have ulterior motives when proceeding through 3020-a, and I suggest that you not rely on their interpretation of your charges. Bring your tools of the trade as you know them, including the records, SOHO reports, grades, test scores, portfolios and any and all other records of your students and submit these into the record. Fight for your due process rights. You probably will win your battle.

    Betsy Combier