Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Will Cuomo Really Kill this Dog if We Reject His Reformy Nonsense?

At the last Delegate Assembly, UFT President Michael Mulgrew told us we were going to focus only on school funding. Capital NY suggested this was because this particular battle appeared to be one we would win. Indeed, Cuomo's speech suggests he will increase funding somewhat regardless of what will happen, but will increase it more if we wholeheartedly embrace his counterproductive corporate crap.

However, neither of his approaches offers NY State children more than a fraction of the billions they're owed as a result of the CFE lawsuit. Nothing short of what's mandated by the CFE lawsuit should be acceptable to NY parents or unions. It's laudable that Mulgrew and Revive NYSUT are fighting for funding, and they should certainly continue.

It's further to leadership's credit that they may be on the verge of initiating something beyond the Twitter campaign (the one in which UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who urged us on, has yet to participate). There will be some sort of boots on the ground action, I'm told. I will participate, and I will urge others to do so as well.

But asking for funding is not enough. We need to take a stand against junk science. I understand Mulgrew's position, that if we oppose evaluation proposals, it will appear we oppose evaluation proposals. This notwithstanding, every teacher I know opposes the evaluation proposals. Every teacher I know opposes being judged by test scores. AFT President Randi Weingarten says, "VAM is a sham." And Revive NYSUT ran all over the state condemning the current APPR as a creation of former President Richard Iannuzzi (though Mike Mulgrew was also a party to it).

It's time now for leadership to reflect the view of the members, rather than pretending things work the other way round. We didn't want 20% of our evaluation to be based on junk science, and we most certainly do not want that percentage going up to 50, or even 40. It's our job to educate the public to the fact that our jobs do not, in fact, entail merely raising test scores. It's our job to educate the public to the fact that teachers tend to influence test scores by a factor of 1-14%.

In fact, it's our job to tell the public that David Coleman's Common Core mantra, that no one gives a crap how our kids feel, is insane. If I didn't give a crap how kids felt I wouldn't wake up ridiculously early to go out and teach them. I'd have retired the first moment I could. In fact, anyone who doesn't give a crap how kids feel ought not to be a teacher, let alone the architect of national learning standards.

Other union leaders endorse opting out and are even refusing to administer Common Core tests. This, to me, is more inspiring than offering to punch corporate reform opponents in the face. It's time for us to articulate a clear agenda that reflects what members demand, rather than obsessing over what gets leadership their seat at the table.

Let's build our own table. No negotiating with terrorists.
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