Archives For January 2014

By Kit Wainer
Chapter Leader, Leon M. Goldstein High School

In part 1 we explored the ways in which UFT contracts have riveted the attention of union members toward their union and toward their contract. In 1995, for the first time in the union’s history, the membership voted down a contract package that UFT leaders had negotiated. Although the union was able to get a new version of the contract approved in the spring with a few minor improvements, I argued that the Unity Caucus leaders recognized that they would have to be much more active in selling any future contract, especially one with concessions. In this segment we examine the lessons of the 2005 contract – a deal which devastated members’ working conditions and rights on the job like no contract before or since. I hope that activists interested in defending our contractual rights will join MORE and help us build a movement for democratic, rank and file unionism. That way, in the future, we’ll be able to learn from past union victories rather than defeats.

I probably knew the 2005 contract would pass from the beginning but the
struggle against it seemed very promising. In the spring of 2005 we had been without a contract for 1.5 years. UFT President Randi Weingarten seemed to feel some heat to launch something resembling a fight. Teachers for a Just contract and the Independent Community of Educators, the two main opposition caucuses within the union, had won the high school seats on the UFT Executive Board the previous year and both groups were calling on the union to fight the Bloomberg administration to win us a good contract. One of TJC’s members on the UFT Executive Board proposed that the UFT should set a strike deadline for November 2005 which would have coincided with election day when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was seeking a second term. Rejecting what UFT Secretary Michael Mendel called the “worst proposal ever made to the Executive Board” the UFT nevertheless began to mobilize that spring. It encouraged chapter leaders to hold rallies outside of schools, and even highlighted those chapters that held “honor pickets”
(pickets before school at which all members walk into school as a group just one minute before the beginning of the work day), even though the honor pickets were organized by opposition chapter leaders. Every district and borough held rallies and there was a city- wide rally at Madison Square Garden in June. At one DA Randi boasted that in all the UFT organized more than 6000 actions, and her number may have been correct.

When we returned to school in September 2005, however, the only action asked of us was that we sign a postcard to Bloomberg demanding that he bargain in good faith. The UFT had asked the Public Employees Relations Board for a declaration of impasse more than a year earlier. Impasse triggered the creation of a fact-finding panel whose report came out in September 2005. The Fact-finders recommended a further extension of the work day, the creation of the 37.5 minute tutoring block, the elimination of the right to grieve letters in the file, the elimination of the right to transfer between schools based on seniority, the right of principals to decide which excessed teachers they will hire (from which the ATR crisis was born) and on and on. That month, against the objections of

ICE and TJC delegates, the Delegate Assembly accepted Unity’s proposal to accept the Fact-finders’ report as the basis for contract negotiations. By October the city and the UFT had agreed to a deal along the lines of the Fact-finders’ report. Unlike the 1995 deal, the 2005 agreement included raises, pro-rata pay increases to compensate for the

longer work day, and full retroactive pay. Members were being offered substantial pay hikes and retroactive checks that, for some, would approach $10,000.

But there was great anger. Roughly 200 protesters showed up outside the Delegate Assembly, even though no group had prioritized building the protest. Weingarten moved the Delegate Assembly to the Brooklyn Marriott so that it could pack the room with retirees and union staff. Nearly 2000 delegates attended. Randi spoke for an hour to provide “context” for the contract. Then Elementary School VP Michelle Bodden spoke for ten minutes to argue for ratification. Weingarten asked speakers in favor of the deal to line up on one side and those against to line up on the other side.
The first speaker “against” was actually a speaker in favor of the contract. She said she had a bad knee and couldn’t walk over to the “for” line. Randi let her speak nonetheless and then called on another speaker “for.” I was the fourth speaker and the first one to oppose the contract. I spoke for 7-8 minutes. My strategy was to ignore most of the justifications Randi and Bodden had just made and address the issues I knew members were talking about. After me, only two others were allowed to speak “against” before District Representative Marty Plotkin called the question. On the first vote the delegates overwhelmingly approved the deal. Then Randi, responding to shouts from the audience, asked for a vote of only active members (non-retirees). This time the vote was roughly 60-40 in favor, not a good showing for the leadership at a meeting it controlled.

Dozens of people approached me at the DA, took “vote no” leaflets to distribute to their schools, and filled out TJC coupons to get on our mailing list. We held an open meeting about a week later at which several ICE members, one New Action/UFT member, and a few dozen independents showed up. The meeting decided to organize a picket outside UFT headquarters before the membership ratification vote. I believed at the time, and still believe, that was a mistake. The priority should have been literature distribution in the schools, doing everything possible to reach out to new people who were angry about the proposed contract but had not been involved in union issues before. Those kinds of people were not the types who would show up at a rally. But the rally idea prevailed and we held one in November. About 175 people came out.

Meanwhile Unity stuffed mailboxes around the city with literature claiming the proposed contract didn’t actually mean what it said. They said that by giving up the right to transfer more teachers would have the right to transfer. They said giving up the right to grieve letters in the file was insignificant because we never won those grievances anyway. They said the new C6 assignments would always be professional activities controlled by members. At a high school chapter leaders’ meeting one District Representative said that no students would actually show up for 37.5 minutes, that this was something that would only hurt elementary school teachers.

My sense (and I admit that I can’t prove it) was that in schools where there were oppositionists (TJC, ICE, or unaffiliated) who distributed “vote no” leaflets we convinced the membership. But in the majority of schools only Unity’s deceptive literature was seen.

In late 2005 the membership ratified the contract by a 63-37 margin. Among teachers the vote was 60-40. However, the anger over the deal was significant, even among those who voted “yes.” Both TJC and ICE gained many new contacts around the city and the momentum pushed us a little closer together. We ran a join slate in the 2007 UFT elections.

Unfortunately, I think the lesson Unity learned from this was that the mobilizations it authorized in spring 2005 raised membership expectations and made the contract a tougher sell. After that the UFT called for far fewer rallies. The union, for example, has done nothing comparable in recent years even though we have been without a contract for more than four years.

My take-­‐away is that there are opportunities that come and go and are somewhat beyond our control. No one has yet shown a way to manufacture the kind of activism and engagement that the 1995 and 2005 contracts stirred up. Nor has anyone come up with a strategy to prevent that enthusiasm from fading after the contract is settled. I believe our task is to figure out how to be ready to seize opportunities when they arise and hold on to as many new activists as possible after the opportunities recede. There is no clear road map for doing this. The best we can do is learn from past experiences and try to apply those lessons to future opportunities, recognizing that the specifics of each case will be different. Activists who want to see a stronger union, one that will mobilize a larger struggle for a good contract, should join MORE so we can continue this struggle together.

A big shout-out to the Port Jefferson Teachers Association for their piece on our work in NYC.

http://thepjsta.org/2014/01/30/uft-series-post-4-do-you-want-more-from-your-union/

Also, check out PJSTA president Beth Dimino take on State Ed. Commissioner John King

By Kit Wainer

Chapter Leader, Leon M. Goldstein H.S.

In the 25 years I’ve been a UFT activist I’ve lived through many. I’ve learned some lessons from these struggles that I thought might be useful to share as we head into another contract period. From 1993-2012 I was a member of Teachers for a Just Contract. From 2012 to the present I have been a member of MORE.

1. Every contract announcement focuses members’ attention on the contract and on the UFT. Continue Reading…

MORE Member Harry Lirtzman, former high school special education math teacher and former deputy state comptroller, speaks out about the bloated and wasteful DOE budget on Schoolbook.org, in a followup to his piece for MORE on the UFT contract negotiations.

Check it out here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/opinion-cut-waste-coming-table-over-teachers-contract/

imagesMembers of MORE stand in solidarity with the UFT nurses of Visiting Nurse Service of NY.

The VNSNY nurses’ contract expires on January 31st, and they are amidst negotiations.  Visiting Nurse Service of NY is a private, non-profit organization that provides home healthcare to New Yorkers.  The organization is demanding that their nurses begin to pay into their healthcare, and puts an end to the current pension system for new hires, while not even offering a cost of living adjustment.  VNSNY  already laid off over 550 workers in October.  According to VNSNY nurses, the UFT is taking a strong and necessary stance against the givebacks that VNSNY demands, and have stated that UFT VNSNY workers will not work a day without a new contract.

Attacks on the working conditions of nurses have a direct and harmful impact on the care that patients receive. As teachers, whose working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, we know that attacks on our union and our working conditions do not only affect us. Like the attacks on teachers and public schools, assaults on the working conditions of healthcare provides are assaults on our communities and our right to good quality public services.

This is why MORE supports our VNSNY Union brothers and sisters and stands with them to demand they receive a fair contract for the honorable work they do day in and day out.

In the event of the strike, picket lines will be set up at the VNS offices located in each borough – please come to show support to our fellow UFTers.

by Patrick Walsh, Chapter Leader, PS/ MS 149, Harlem

For the second time in weeks the American public has been presented with an ad attacking The United Federation of Teachers, OUR union. The first attack appeared in a full page ad in the New York Times and, the second on nothing less than a billboard in Times Square.  Both ads were created by the same ersatz organization — The Center For Union Facts which is, in fact, a public relations firm — and both traffic the same lies and distortions: that AFT president Randi Weingarten “protects bad teachers “ and “ opposes reforms that would improve our kids’ education.”

Continue Reading…

Sign the Petition!

Occupational and physical therapists are an unseen part of New York City’s education community. But without OTs and PTs, thousands of the city’s promising – yet disabled – students would fall through the cracks.

That’s why we’re alarmed that these therapists continue to be valued less than their equally critical peers: the teachers, social workers, school psychologists and others – who along with OTs and PTs provide immeasurable support for the city’s youths.  Surprisingly, experienced OTs and PTs are paid 38 percent less than teachers and speech therapists with the same levels of education.

New York City’s OTs and PTs are quietly turning around the lives of physically and emotionally challenged students, helping them overcome profound disabilities to reach their potential in the classroom. That’s not just good for families – it saves taxpayers money and generates revenues for the school system.

All we ask for is fairness. Without equity, students with disabilities are in danger of losing a critical support network, a lifeline that will help them graduate and become productive New Yorkers.

The best OTs and PTs often choose other jobs where they’re paid according to their value. Those who stay – because of their commitment to the kids they’ve helped for years – often work second jobs to support their families.

We can all agree that our school children are our most precious resource. They represent the future of our wonderful city. Helping OTs and PTs remain in the New York City School System is another tool to help vulnerable students overcome obstacles and thrive.

Let’s work together in support of our children. Let’s work together to support our OTs and PTs.

Sign the Petition!

Please come to this important event and distribute the flyer below: 
  • Testimonials from those pushed out and shut out
  • An update on Gulino vs BOE (lawsuit against the NYS LAST exam)
  • What we can do now
Saturday, January 25, 2014
3-5 PM
The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew’s Parish Hall
520 Clinton Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (C train to Clinton/Washington)
A 42% decline in the number of new Black and Latino teachers hired to teach in NYC public schools since 2002 is movement in the wrong direction.
The DOE hires graduates from private universities over those from CUNY and SUNY.
A NYS teacher certification exam is not validated yet disproportionately excludes Black and Latino applicants.
Over 100 public schools have been closed in NYC’s Black and Latino communities.
Mayoral control over the DOE with its $25 billion yearly budget shuts out the voices and accountability to parents – over 80% of whom are Black, Latino and Asian.
Privately run charter schools are given a free ride to crowd existing public schools and to divide parents against parents.
The absence of DOE or mayoral oversight or direction to monitor and promote diversity in the teaching staff provides a cover for growing indifference and hostility to demands for equity.  “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”
The undermining of teacher tenure, seniority and due process disproportionately impacts Black and Latino teachers, denigrates the teaching profession, inhibits student advocacy and contributes to chaos and demoralization in our public schools.
The disappearing of Black and Latino educators removes the most consistent advocates for a historically accurate, culturally relevant and inclusive curriculum.
Join with educators, parents and community leaders to stop and reverse the disappearing of Black and Latino educators.  Let’s organize for a real change at Tweed and City Hall.
Organized by the Ad Hoc committee for Teacher Diversity
Contact information: Peter Bronson (917) 453-3666, (718) 805-6341 Email:TeacherDiversity@gmail.com
Endorsers (list in formation) Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence, Coalition for Public Education, Movement of Rank and File Educators, National Black Education Agenda, New York Collective of Radical Educators, People Power, Progressive Action Caucus, Teacher’s Unite.

Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators in NYC

By James Eterno

Chapter Leader Jamaica High School

Our monthly UFT Delegate Assembly Report

 

DA REPORT: UNITY DECLINES TO RULE OUT A CUOMO ENDORSEMENT

Michael Bloomberg, the anti-public education mayor, has left office after twelve years where he almost destroyed our public schools.  An anti-public education, anti-worker governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, is up for reelection later this year.  On Wednesday at the UFT Delegate Assembly, I introduced a resolution for the UFT to outright reject any possible Cuomo endorsement or campaign contributions.  Although I received significant applause and votes, the Unity  dominated Delegate Assembly voted against  a blanket repudiation of Cuomo.  Here is the language of the motion:

Whereas, Governor Andrew Cuomo by supporting an unfair teacher evaluation system, an inferior Tier 6 pension and untested Common Core Standards has shown he is no friend to public education or workers; be it

Resolved, that the UFT not endorse Cuomo’s reelection nor provide him with any COPE money.
The bulk of the votes against this motion came from the center of the room where the Unity officers and many of the retirees usually are seated.  The sides of the room where the rank and file is better represented seemed to show much more enthusiasm for our proposal.
The Unity people clearly were not in a very positive mood as they also voted down a motion to have a rally in support of Randi Weingarten at Times Square.  The AFT President has been the recipient of some vicious attacks by the so called Center on Union Facts.  One of the attacks is on a Times Square billboard.  Delegate Patrick Walsh proposed the rally during the new motion period and although it was voted down, UFT President Michael Mulgrew did say Patrick should meet with Secretary Leroy Barr after the meeting and work on something so Patrick did make his point and there will probably be some kind of action.
Patrick noted to me how the attack on Randi is an attack on all AFT members. For the record I voted for the rally as did many Delegates but not enough to get a 2/3 super majority needed to put it on the agenda.
President’s Report
UFT President Michael Mulgrew opened by saying this is the first DA under a new mayoral administration which prompted applause.
The President then called for a moment of silence for Joseph Shannon, a UFT activist who recently passed away.
The President noted a change in the relationship between the UFT and the people at the DOE.  Many of them have been apologizing to us for what they said they had to do during the Bloomberg years.
Albany
We are not under attack in Albany this year.  Governor Cuomo is calling for tax breaks for banks and others but on education he is calling for a 5% increase in state education funding.  The governor is also requesting a vote for $2 billion in bonds that will be used to fund technology in the schools and he wants all day Pre Kindergarten to be universally available statewide.
There is the right political climate for universal Pre-K to get passed in Albany.  The problem is how to fund it.  UFT stood with the unions from the NYC Central Labor Council behind Mayor Bill de Blasio to endorse de Blasio’s proposal to tax NYC residents making over $500,000 a year to pay for Pre-K.  (That tax must be approved in Albany.) 72,000 young people are in grade 1 in NYC but only 30,000 slots are available for Pre-K.  Besides funding, there are space questions that need to be resolved.
The Governor made a proposal for $20,000 teacher bonuses.  If this turns into individual merit pay, the UFT will not support it but if it will fund the UFT’s career ladder, then we are open to it. Since the mayor rejected individual merit pay, this is a good sign.
A state task force thinks charter schools should be able to have Pre-K but we don’t want any more access for charter schools until they educate the same percentage of English Language Learners and Special Education pupils as the public schools do.  They are required by law to have the same percentage of these students as the public schools have.
National Scene
The UFT is watching the Detroit bankruptcy situation closely.
AFT President Randi Weingarten is under attack from the “Center on Union Facts” which has a billboard in Times Square and radio ads out against our national president.  Randi has come out against Value Added Testing to judge teachers because it doesn’t work.  Mulgrew prefers the growth model.
City Council
Mellissa Maark Viverito was elected as the new City Council Speaker.  She went with the UFT to Cincinnati years before she was looking for the speaker’s position to learn about how community schools worked. We think she will be more favorable to us than the last Council Speaker.  There are now six UFT members on the City Council.  We hope to get a UFT person to chair the Education Committee.
Chancellor
Carmen Farina (sorry but could someone show me how to put a ~ over a letter) is the new Chancellor.  She has 22 years of teaching experience.  We asked for an educator to be Chancellor after thirteen years of non-educators running the system and we are happy to have her in the position to clean up the mess at Tweed.  DOE needs changes and requires a take charge person which Carmen is.
Mulgrew acknowledged that she moved out 80% of the teachers in her school when she was the Principal but he defended that by saying she had a vision for the school and she helped people who were not happy with direction she was taking the school in to find other positions.
Carmen was the best person on the list of people who were up for the job.  She will analyze the DOE to figure out changes that need to be made.  She didn’t have to do this as she was happily retired. She is the right person at the right time.
For the new administration’s first act concerning the schools, they made the right decision on the snow day.  Mayor de Blasio called Mulgrew (unlike Bloomberg) before closing schools.  We have 183 school days this year on the calendar; we need 180 so we can have two more snow days without having to get our shovels out to keep schools open or lose days off.
Lawsuits
Many lawsuits are out there including co-location cases.  Hopefully, we will sit down and have a civil conversation with the new administration about settling the cases.
Contract
We intend to make changes in the evaluation system through contract negotiations.  In order for them to be implemented in September, we need to have a contract ratified by the end of this school year in June.
Accountability
State and Federal school accountability measures are recognized by statute but city measures are not.  Bloomberg hired over 700 lawyers and accountability people.  These jobs can be eliminated and it would free up some money for our contract.  $460 million state aid increase this year is not going to the NYC schools but going to the central DOE.  The Principal evaluations are tied to the city accountability system so they will have to fix that in their contract.
Staff Director’s Report
Staff Director Leroy Barr gave dates for various meetings and events including the next DA which will be on February 5.
Question Period
Question: Randi said she would give up Absent Teacher Reserves over her dead body and Mulgrew declared he would not let them be fired.  Is that still the position?
Mulgrew Answer: We are not selling out the ATRs.  We could have had a contract a couple of years back if we were willing to do that.  Bloomberg wanted to make us at will employees.  We didn’t go through all of what we went through the last few years to give up on this issue now.
Question: Some teachers are not being observed at all.  Should we push administration to observe them?
Answer: If administration is not doing the observations, they are not interested in it and they might be waiting for the system to change.
Question: Teachers are getting one less observation if they do a literacy bundle.  Is that ok?
Answer: It violates the law but if you can work something like that out with the Principal, well some people like to do paperwork.  Teachers have to get over their fear of having administrators in their rooms.
Question: Governor Christie wants to extend the school year and school day and reduce pensions in NJ.  Will that be a problem
Answer: Christie is having a tough time lately.  When someone says they want to extend the day and year, ask them point blank why they want to do it?  If they just don’t want to have their kids around, tell them we will take $2 an hour for 32 kids and we will all make $150,000 a year.
Question: What is the new administration’s position on data collection?
Answer: That is a state issue.  It is dangerous to give student information to Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch. InBloom (data collection company) said they would be careful.  There are problems in Albany. State Education Commissioner John King has been in the news lately.  UFT supports standards but is not happy with rollout of Common Core. UFT reps in NYSUT will soon be voting on a no confidence vote on John King.  Bloomberg is gone so we have to move onto other issues.
Question: Retroactive pay in new contract?
Answer: President will not discuss the issue in public.
New Motions
See the top of the report..
Special Order of Business
There was a resolution calling for the Department of Education to have a Lab Specialist in every secondary school.  This passed unanimously I believe but only after there was some back and forth between Joan Heymont and the Chair as Joan was cut off when she was speaking and she answered back that there were many women who do not like the way Mulgrew treats them at DA’s.
The next resolution was to support universal Pre-Kindergarten through increasing taxes on the wealthy in NYC.  This also passed unanimously I believe but not before someone offered an amendment saying the curriculum must be developmentally appropriate.  Another amendment to make Pre-K and Kindergarten mandatory was defeated.  (I voted against this amendment but for the other amendment and the resolution.)
Finally, there was a resolution for a campaign to win a good contract that asks us to receive texts and emails and to educate our members on the importance of receiving a good contract.  Mulgrew reverted to his old form by not calling on a speaker opposed (I am not sure if there were people who wanted to oppose this so I didn’t object.  In retrospect, I probably should have called a point of order.) but someone called the question to end debate before anyone had a chance to amend the resolution to call for possible actions to achieve a contract.
After the meeting, I went back to Queens to attend the Community Board 8 meeting where a resolution passed unanimously to try to save Jamaica High School. I arrived home very late but I will put up more on this cause later.

Randi-VAM

by Jia Lee for MORE

UFT Chapter Leader of The Earth school

Recently, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, surprised many a disillusioned public school teacher with her new mantra: “Vam is a Sham”. This is a major shift from her previous agreement and collaboration with Race to the Top policy enforcers. She admits that she has always been leery of value-added “but we rolled up our sleeves, acted in good faith and tried to make it work.” Now, she’s disillusioned. Welcome to the world we have been living in since this all started. We now wait for a public statement by UFT leaders.

Whatever the reason, educators, parents and students welcome this realization and acknowledgement that the use of faulty metrics to measure the value of students, teachers and schools has dangerous consequences. One of the very reasons why the grassroots union caucus, Movement of Rank and File Educators, formed last year is due to the acknowledgement by educators in the ranks who already read the warning signs.

With this welcomed change of heart and, now, staunch campaign against the use of value added measures, we are aware that this could affect contract negotiations in local districts, and the union also plans to lobby the Education Department. We are also rightfully cautious, yet hopeful, that we will not be faced with the patterns of our past. With an entire generation of new teachers, many of whom were not a part of the previous contract negotiations, will we be facing concessions to our working conditions? Will we be told to continue waiting for the curriculum or improved standardized state tests that align undemocratically set Common Core Standards?

We are certain that the grassroots efforts of groups such as MORE, as well as with the movement of parents in New York City who have risen against the over reliance on test scores, have contributed to Randi’s public change of heart. We will be here to provide our experiences and support in efforts to ensure that our teaching conditions positively impact our students’ learning conditions. MORE has generated alliances with parents and students who have felt the consequences of a leadership that had, for far too long, ignored the truth about high stakes testing and the faulty metrics of value added measures.

Last year, MORE published as part of its election platform;

“Testing has narrowed the curriculum our students are being offered. Quality teaching and education is developmentally appropriate and responsive to diverse student needs and abilities. A systemic obsession with quantitative data has increased teachers’ paperwork and stripped them of their professional discretion”.

Our leadership took longer to come to this realization:

Here’s a brief glimpse of AFT leadership attitudes and alliances past and present.

In November of 2009, Randi issued this statement of support in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s press release, “Foundation Commits $335 Million to Promote Effective Teaching and Raise Student Achievement” : “This process has been a thoughtful, deliberative, collaborative way to understand—and then design and implement—systems that improve teaching and learning. These districts, working with their unions and parents, were willing to think out of the box, and were awarded millions of dollars to create transparent, fair, and sustainable teacher effectiveness models.”

The National Education Association president, Dennis Van Roekel, also issued a statement, “Collaboration and multilevel integration are important when it comes to transforming the teaching profession…These grants will go far in providing resources to help raise student achievement and improve teacher effectiveness. Our local NEA affiliates are working daily to help improve the practice of teaching.”

Our national teacher union leaders taking funds to collaborate with problematic policies that have no reliable evidence for raising student achievement and improving teacher effectiveness, back in 2009, is what started the most vocal of educators, researchers, policy analysts and even psychometricians grumbling. By August 27, 2010, the Economic Policy Institute published an open letter, Problems with Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.

Just a little less than a year ago, Randi collaborated with Vicki Philips of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to author this article Six Steps to Effective Teacher Development and Evaluation (March 25, 2013) (Note that the article states: “Sponsored content by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and American Federation of Teachers.”) Under the subsection: “Include evidence of teaching and student learning from multiple sources”, they write:

“The Gates Foundation’s MET project (much but not all of which the AFT agrees with) has found that combining a range of measures—not placing inordinate weight on standardized test scores—yields the greatest reliability and predictive power of a teacher’s gains with other students. And the AFT and its affiliates are exploring ways to accurately determine what measures best serve as a proxy for our work.” Still showing outward public collaboration with the Gates Foundation, funder of ill-conceived high stakes testing and teacher evaluation policies, continued to prompt parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and by this time, the punitive practices imbued by these policies have sent invaluable educators leaving the profession or fighting for MORE.

Then, on January 10, 2014, Randi posted in the Huffington Post “Teaching and Learning Over Testing” alone and not associated with the Gates Foundation. She states that the AFT has long known that VAM is unreliable and that they have always questioned the use of test scores to evaluate teachers. The UFT’s own high stakes testing task force in 2007 came to the same conclusion. This is contrary to the earlier co sponsored written articles, but what matters is the shift that has happened.

While MORE stands in solidarity with our union president’s newly discovered position, we can not forget that she has helped negotiate contracts which include the flawed use of test scores to determine a “teacher’s  effectiveness” in districts around the country. This was against the wishes of her own rank and file and the advice of educational experts. She can not undo the damage that has already been done by her support of test based measures. In addition, Randi continues to relentlessly advocate for Common Core, while the standards are unproven, not field tested, were not created by with the input of public school teachers and parents, and have caused even more reliance on high stakes testing.

Will Michael Mulgrew admit to the truth and take back what he said just a year ago at a delegate assembly?- That the growth model (VAM) they were creating for the local measures of student learning component was a fair and excellent way to evaluate teachers because “In any class…you ought to be able to move kids from point A, wherever they began, to point B, someplace that showed some progress.”

At the November UFT Delegate Assembly, a MORE delegate made the argument that the current teacher evaluation system “Advance” is unviable, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew scowled. If Randi can have a change of heart… say it with us, Michael Mulgrew, “VAM IS A SHAM”.