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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Daily News Cries Foul On Court Decision To Stop Schools' Turnaround

Teachers union President Michael Mulgrew denies kids a chance at success; Wins arbitration blocking the closure of 24 perpetually failing schools to save his members' jobs

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew has enshrined failure by winning an arbitration that blocks Chancellor Dennis Walcott from overhauling 24 persistently terrible schools. For now, one hopes.

Those 24 schools are among the lowest-performing in the city. Day in and day out, year in and year out, they have let thousands of children down. Everyone agrees they need reform, including Mulgrew — except if anyone dare try to hold his members accountable for performance.

Mayor Bloomberg attempted to use the schools as a proving ground for testing out a system of teacher evaluation as a precursor to the one that is supposed to be introduced citywide.
This could be done only with Mulgrew’s agreement. He shot the idea down, costing the schools thousands of dollars in special funding.

Bloomberg then exercised authority that seemed clearly his under the teachers contract: He ordered the schools closed so they could be reopened with reconstituted teaching forces. Principals would offer jobs to half the incumbent instructors based on merit, let the others seek employment elsewhere and replace those let go with more promising hires.

Mulgrew sued, alleging a contract violation. The matter went to an arbitrator, Scott Buchheit, who ruled that all the teachers must keep their jobs regardless of their ability to impart learning.

Bloomberg will appeal while Mulgrew happily sacrifices the futures of kids in defense of teachers who have been found wanting by their principals.

Teacher quality doesn’t matter. Student success is irrelevant. All that counts is that UFT members keep their jobs.

The kids be damned.


I AM A TEACHER9 hours ago
As a teacher at a former turnaround school (as a matter of fact, my interview was scheduled for today), this editorial is wrong on so many factors.

1. My school has been in the process of improving via the restart model, when this whole mess began. We were not failing. 
2. The UFT did not shoot down the Mayors evaluation deal, in fact, the DOE was the one who walked out on the process. 
3. Every school in the city is under Mayor Bloomberg's control, yet there is no accountability for the Mayor when they are considered "failing." 
4. Think about why some of the schools were on the turnaround list. The majority of the schools are large, comprehensive High Schools, some the only remaining large school in the area due to the Bloomberg's desire to close as many schools as possible. My school takes every student, regardless of credits, age, behavioral issue, etc. These new, smaller schools do not. This is an issue that only recently has been addressed by the state. 
5. Read the Educational Impact Statements and then look at what schools were doing prior to them. They are almost identical. Why couldn't the DOE continue the changes in the schools as is?
6. I am all for accountability and being fairly evaluated. I do not know anyone who isn't. 
7. Everything we do is for the kids - we spend our own money buying supplies, we give up lunch periods and stay after-school to tutor and spend countless hours at home lesson planning and grading. For some students, schools are the only stable thing in their lives and turnaround caused a lot of disruption and chaos for them. Before you all call me a martyr, think about your own job and what you are willing and not willing to do. 
8. Unfortunately, I do not think this is the end of this demeaning process. I believe Bloomberg will go out of his way to do this again next year instead of providing the schools the proper support they need. So much for Children First, Always.

VETEDUCATOR12 hours ago
I never write on these message boards, however as someone who actually just went through this process I am tired of reading editorials that lack the research to justify an educated opinion. I also want to respond to some people's postings that are uneducated and misinformed. 

I am a teacher with 20 years in the system who is in his early forties. I teach at one of the 24 turnaround schools and the 18D committee decided to re-hire me. Although it is true that the majority of teachers let go during this process were "older" teachers most schools were smart enough to keep a number of veterans on staff, thereby making an age discrimination case difficult to prove. 

What is most annoying about this editorial and the general news coverage of the turnaround process is a basic point that no one in the media has written about or bothered to do some simple research on. We keep reading that only "effective" teachers would be eligible to keep their jobs. What exactly is it that makes a teacher "effective?" Is it statistical data? Is it a history or pattern of professional observations that demonstrate one's ability to teach? Is it other forms of professional evidence that can be presented to the 18D committees? The answer is None of the Above! The hiring and firing of teachers was based on one thing and one thing only. How you answer 5 multi-part questions from 5 to 7 committee members under time constraints in a stressful atmosphere. I use the term interview very loosely to describe what was more like an interrogation. In the end to even be considered to get your job back you had to reach a predetermined score on a rubric created by the 18D committee. When teachers who were both hired and fired by these committees asked to see this rubric they were told they were not allowed to see what they were being judged on. Sounds very American to me! 

Just to be clear to our editorialist and others who are misinformed, let me clarify this process just a little more. Nothing you have done in your career before matters. You could have been one of the better teachers to interview, but you are not allowed to present anything to document this to the committee. Another irony is the fact that teachers had to bring professional portfolios to these interviews, but the 18 D committees in most schools consistently ignored them. So the only way to prove your are an "effective" teacher is to ace an interview under stressful circumstances. Apparently this is what King Bloomberg and his minions feel constitute an "effective" teacher. Imagine if you were in charge of hiring at a hospital and the world's best neurosurgeon applied and wasn't hired because you based his "effectiveness" on an interview and ignored data that clearly would have helped you make an educated decision. 

There is so much more I would love to say about this process, but it would just take too long. I will summarize with this. People in the media who keep acting as King Bloomberg's mouthpiece intentionally should re-examine themselves. You are journalists and need to research facts before you

DEMSRULE1 day ago
Did you ever notice that the teachers involved in sex scandals are all younger teachers hired by Bloomberg?

JJMAN1 day ago
We all know Mort is a anti-union pro-super rich type guy. Just be honest about it Mortie!

JJMAN1 day ago
Why is the fact that these schools were operating under Bloomberg’s DOE for almost 12 years completely ignored by the News and the Times? If they are “failing” why doesn’t Bloomberg ever get blamed for his in-effective polices? In addition it is imperative to discuss the complete chaos caused by the sudden change in re-organization plans of these schools. Teachers who had stellar reputations, perfect ratings, were beloved by students had to endure the uncertainty, stress and humiliation of re-applying for their own jobs during the school year. Meanwhile they were in the midst of preparing students for state tests! This hurt the children! Why I ask is that never mentioned?

JJMAN1 day ago
Mr. Bloomberg speaks of replacing teachers with better teachers but one has to wonder from where these “new” teachers will appear, out of thin air? It is clear to anyone who follows Bloomberg’s educational strategy that he only wants to replace experienced teachers with less experienced ones who are cheaper. In fact hiring cheaper, newer teachers is a centerpiece of his overall strategy which tragically has nothing to do with curriculum or teaching practices in the least. The media needs to hold Bloomberg accountable! 

Wrong, Eugene. The UFT believes that anyone who is fired must be afforded due process. If a teacher is truly incompetent, then the principal provides evidence and documentation to a hearing officer. If the teacher is truly proven to be incompetent, then that teacher's license is revoked. Someone isn't "incompetent" just because a principal says so.

PERSAM11972 days ago
Mr. Resler, with all due respect, you are mouthing off soundbites that are completely disengaged with reality. Read the UFT-BOE Contract and NYS Education Law. No one wants "pathetic and incompetent" teachers and the protocols for termination are clearly laid-out. The right to Due Process is not a "list of excuses and deflections"; it is an American right! Moreover, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Walcott have the right to hire competent personnel, provide exemplary professional development, and provide resources for schools to succeed. The UFT steps in when the DOE fails to honor its commitment to educate ALL of its children, provide adequate training of the people THEY hire, and attempt to abrogate the rights of its workers.

The UFT has a never ending list of excuses and deflections for why no teachers should ever be fired, regardless of how pathetic and incompetent. They're all familiar by now. They mean nothing to anyone.
2 replies

JJMAN1 day ago
Why do you hate teachers? Have you ever taught? I will love you until you learn to love yourself!

JJMAN1 day ago

Who do you work for? Be honest my friend. Do you hate all public employees or just teachers? Were you teased as a child at school? As a union rep I never fought to keep bad teachers only to protect their due process, because after all Eugene this is America the country my father fought to protect during WWII isn't it? I sill love you Eugene.

The blatant anti-union bias of the Daily News predictably rears its ugly head yet again. As UFT President, Michael Mulgrew is legally and morally obligated to fight against any attempt to violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement on the part of the City, regardless of their purported motive. If the City wants to institute new ideas, let them do so in partnership with the UFT, rather than unilaterally violating a contract negotiated in good faith by both sides.