Looming Battles for 2015

Happy New Year to our PJSTA members along with any other readers of our blog.  Hopefully you had an enjoyable vacation and return to school well rested.  You’ll need it.  We have a number of developing  battles on our hands.

For those of you who may have missed it, New York State’s Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch sent a New Years Eve letter to Governor Cuomo’s aide Jim Malatras detailing what she sees as the necessary changes to the New York State APPR.  Carol Burris did a great job breaking it all down on Valerie Strauss’ blog.

Via The Washington Post (emphasis mine)…

New York Chancellor Merryl Tisch has announced her New Years resolution—revise the teacher evaluation system so that Common Core 3-8 test scores can trump all.

Yup.  Tisch’s response to the tremendous push back against the Common Core tests has been to add further weight to the test scores.

The short version of what she wants to do now is this—double down on test scores and strip away the power of local school boards to negotiate the majority of the evaluation plan. Tisch would get rid of the locally selected measures of achievement, which now comprise 20 percent of the evaluation, and double the state test score portion, to 40 percent. She also recommends that the score ranges for the observation process be taken out of the hands of local districts, and be determined by Albany instead. Dr. Lederman, start packing up. Merryl Tisch and Andrew Cuomo, whom you have never met, know your talents better than your local school board, your principal and the parents of the children you teach.

Although Tisch claims that this is about teacher improvement and mentoring, the letter discloses her true intent. She opines that if a teacher is ineffective in the growth score portion, as Sheri was, she should be rated ineffective overall.  In addition,if a teacher has two ineffective ratings they “should not return to the classroom.” Whether those ratings, which are based on a highly discredited model, are accurate or not is moot. They produce a bell curve.

You read that correctly.  Regardless of what 60% of your evaluation says, if the growth score says you are ineffective, your entire rating will be ineffective.  If you receive two ineffective ratings you will no longer be allowed to teach.

Meanwhile, the evidence has continued to accumulate that evaluating teachers by test scores simply does not work.

In April of 2014, the American Statistical Association, joined other research organizations, such as the American Education Research Association and the National Academy of Education, in cautioning against the use of student test scores, commonly referred to as VAM, in teacher evaluations. The ASA clearly outlined how unreliable this methodology is and noted that teachers’ impact on test scores is minimal–between 1 percent and 14 percent. Understand also that these VAM and “growth” ratings are all relative—pitting each teacher against all others. Even if every child scored in the mastery range on the test, there would still be a percentage of teachers rated Ineffective. It is a sorting mechanism based on an algorithm, which most researchers agree is flawed.

The Tisch plan is a power grab designed to snatch away the right of elected Boards of Education to determine what is quality teaching, by shifting it to a formula produced in Albany based on flawed tests. Ironically, these are the same tests which the Governor and legislature say, in law, should have no consequential effects on students. But there is no problem using those tests to boot Sheri Lederman and teachers like her out the door.

Be sure to read the entire article.  Burris is always a voice of reason and logic in a debate that all too often is filled with nonsensical attacks on us.

We know that Tisch’s APPR agenda is also Cuomo’s.  We know that Cuomo has the support of the Republican controlled, Wall Street funded senate.  That includes our local state senator John Flanagan, the chairman on K-12 education who is on the take from noted ed deformers Students First, his top campaign contributor.

Via Capital NY…

Senate education chair John Flanagan said lawmakers should consider limiting school districts’ control over their evaluation plans. “Maybe we should be having a discussion about a statewide protocol,” he said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public radio program. “Instead of having 700 disparate agreements, let’s have a menu where you have 10 or 12 options for school districts to get involved in, because all of these things have to be negotiated, and one of the things that the unions jealously guard, which I understand and respect, is the concept of local control. They want to be able to negotiate everything. And yet, I don’t really see anyone out there who is … jumping up and down and saying everything is working really well.”

Voters in the Comsewogue community should take note that their state senator, John Flanagan, supports stripping our district of local control over teacher evaluations and farming it out to Albany.

Our friend Reality Based Educator covered Flanagan on his Perdido Street School Blog on Christmas Eve.

Finally that brings us to this from Governor Cuomo…


Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post followed up with this op-ed.  I am not sure that Cuomo has the juice to launch a pension attack, but it sure seems as though a warning shot’s been fired.

To say we didn’t see any of this coming would be wrong.  Much of this was entirely predictable, particularly the APPR stuff.  Unfortunately NYSUT leadership has not shown the willingness to fight any of this.  Nor will they in the coming weeks and months.  To be clear, the fight for public education will have to come from students, parents, and rank-and-file teachers.  We’ll have more on the role of NYSUT coming up.  In the meantime lace up your boots.  There’s a lot of work to be done in 2015.

5 Comments on “Looming Battles for 2015”

  1. Pingback: If You Can’t Trust Your Union… | The official website of the PJSTA

  2. Pingback: The Inconvenient “Lost Standards” of NYS: Why Deformers Prefer Common Core for Evaluating Teachers | Critical Classrooms, Critical Kids

  3. I don’t necessarily agree. There were a lot of red flags with Astorino. What they should have done is endorse Teachout and throw their financial might behind her. Instead they (NYSUT/UFT/AFT) actively worked to defeat her.

  4. The Teachers Unions should have endorsed Astorino. Rather than endorse a republican, whose wife is a teacher and who posted an open letter endorsing teachers, the unions remained silent. It is a shame that our children and their teachers have been reduced to a scores on tests!

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