As the new evaluation system rolls forward in New York City’s public schools, the volume of complaint, not yet resistance, but complaint, is growing.
Our task force on testing was right six years ago – when it said teachers should not be evaluated on tests.
Mulgrew was right in January 2010 – when he said Weingarten’s proposals to evaluate teachers based partially on test scores would not fly in New York (at least under Bloomberg). By the way, NYSUT has removed Weingarten’s speech from its website.
But Mulgrew was wrong in May 2010 when he swung and supported the Race to the Top proposal for New York State. He lined up NYSUT and the UFT in favor of the new state law… paving the way for NYS’ RttT application…
For three years Mulgrew has been saying that teachers want a new evaluation system. I don’t think think I’ve met those teachers. I don’t think they are working in in New York City. I don’t think more than a few of them exist. One teacher (out of 30) in my small school thought we needed a new evaluation system. She realizes now that she was wrong.
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Multiple measures. Weingarten has been saying that tests are one thing that should be looked at. UFT leadership says the same thing. But the state law says that if a teacher’s scores on the test portions (40%) are low, that teacher is rated ineffective – halfway to a firing. This is not multiple measures. This is 1) teacher is rated on test scores, 2) if those are ok, then and only then are other measures (really just principal’s evaluation) taken into account.
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Despite the state law, the UFT and NYC DoE did not negotiate an evaluation system. The January 2010 Mulgrew was wise to distrust the DoE’s negotiations – the May 2010 Mulgrew was foolish.
State Commissioner King imposed a system on NYC this June. The DoE and UFT made proposals, and King raggedly split some of the difference. (Portelos published the proposals here). There is important stuff for teachers in the differences, but there are huge problems in the similarities. In June the UFT claimed that we “won.” That seemed inaccurate. Today Mulgrew implies that teacher complaints are due to the UFT proposals not being adopted. That seems highly unlikely.
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Measures of Student Learning (the 20% and 20%) were reviewed at the schools this Summer. And in many cases schools chose to blend scores, to assign a generic score to many teachers. And I think, in many cases, this was the way to put as few teachers as possible, given the awful system, in harm’s way. And privately, some in the union leadership agreed.
However, when teachers arrived in September, and learned they would be evaluated on the scores of kids not in their classes, maybe not based on their subject! Wow! There were furious complaints. And from a teacher’s point of view, this made absolutely no sense. (What’s missing, is that the entire system made no sense, and that if each teacher’s rating rested on a larger number of scores, that it would be less susceptible to the erratic bounces in student test scores on high stakes tests, including the sometimes erratic scores on NYS tests)
In the schools, principals were not sure how to handle the new system, and all kinds of interesting things have emerged. Principals mandating lesson formats, principals not holding mandated goal setting conferences, principals rating the wrong items, etc, etc.
With each abuse or mistake, the number of teacher complaints grows.
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At the September 9 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting, Mulgrew spoke about the City failing to supply curriculum to most schools. He talked about problems with implementation. But he asserted the need for a new evaluation system, asserted that teachers wanted it (who?) and made caustic remarks about teachers who don’t get observed, and don’t want to be observed.
At the September 16 special Delegate Assembly, Mulgrew again spoke about the evaluation. This time he emphasized that King had sided with the DoE on important aspects. And he talked about teachers being evaluated on kids who were not theirs (without mentioning that in the crazy system King imposed, based on the law May 2010 Mulgrew supported, this may have been the best way to insulate teachers from crazy test score fluctuations, which occur with amazing regularity in New York State). He did not remark on teachers who do not like being observed, but again asserted that teachers wanted a new evaluation system. He was shifting, slightly, in the face of the growing backlash.
At the September 23 UFT Executive Board, New Action submitted a resolution affirming our contractual rights vis a vis lesson plans. The leadership, having already launched a Union Initiated Grievance on this very subject, collaborated on revising the resolution, which passed with bipartisan support. (It goes to tomorrow’s Delegate Assembly).
At the October 7 UFT Executive Board, several officers submitted a resolution calling for a moratorium on consequences – to kids, teachers or schools – from high stakes testing. LeRoy Barr strongly motivated (Mulgrew was absent) affirming both the leadership’s ongoing belief in a new evaluation system (and the Common Core), and the need for a moratorium on consequences.
(I rose to remind the body that there are strong disagreements, philosophical disagreements about evaluation, and that they needed to be hashed out, but not today, as the call for moratorium deserved unanimous support. Someone asked me later why I got up to say nothing… I don’t think that was nothing)
So at tomorrow’s Delegate Assembly there will be a split message.
The leadership will speak in favor of a “good” new evaluation system, will assert that the State Law is fine (and if pressed, remind members that is the law, but not remind members that the UFT and NYSUT helped craft it), might baldly assert that teachers wanted this.
The leadership will also push resolutions reasserting our contractual and historic rights regarding lesson plans, and calling for a moratorium on consequences for high stakes testing.
The former is a problem. The evaluation system for NYC should be renegotiated, and the State Law should be massively revised, or simply repealed. We must continue to challenge the need for this evaluation system, the fairness of rating teachers on student test scores, the weakening of tenure rights.
The latter represents progress. It is important that while this system is in place, that we as a union fight the individual problems that the system causes, either by design, by DoE incompetence, or by DoE malice. It is good that the leadership hears the members’ complaints. The leadership is responding, partially, but responding, to members’ complaints, to the evaluation backlash.
In a course I have been asked to play with the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS, oeis.org).
OK, so I shot in my birth month, day, and year (divided into two two-digit numbers), just to see what I would bring up. And the answer was, nothing. I was a little surprised (especially since my birth year is 64, which is, I figure, a good number for finding a sequence, being a square and a cube and a power of two and all that). And my sequence of four numbers was strictly ascending.
So I remembered some nonsense about the first uninteresting number (was it Hardy and Ramanujan playing? Silly, right, if 1 is interesting, and 2 is interesting, and … once you get to a number that is NOT interesting, well, that fact makes it interesting).
So, can we do the same thing, play the same nonsense for a sequence? What is the smallest sequence not in the OEIS (and can we use that fact to wrangle a place for that sequence, and a real citation, in the encyclopedia?)
So let’s look for the smallest sequence of four terms (ascending) that’s not in there. Why 4? Because that’s where I started. Why ascending? Because there have to be some arbitrary rules… and this one is useful.
Certainly we have a problem with the idea of “small”. We could defined the size of the sequence to be the highest number in the sequence (like comparing junk poker hands), so 2, 10, 11, 13 (not in there), is smaller than 2, 10, 11, 14 (not in there) because we begin by comparing the 13 and the 14… Or should we look at the sum of the 4 terms, in which case 3, 4, 5, 19 (not in there) is better? Or the sum of the squares…
And once we decide what small is, we would still need to find it…
By the way, 1,2,3,n is not in there, for what smallest value of n?
In the Spring, the UFT worked out a strategy to find a candidate for mayor – someone who could catch Quinn, beat her in a runoff, and go on to win the general election.
The choice came down to Bill De Blasio and Bill Thompson. John Liu, who the UFT really likes, still had the campaign finance thing hanging around his neck.
We liked both Bills. We said (or our leaders said) that their education policies were similar. And I believe that. But our leaders also said that Thompson had the easier path to victory, and that was the determining factor in the endorsement.
Back in 2009, I moved a Thompson endorsement at the Delegate Assembly. Shot down. Four more years of Bloomberg. This time the union leadership would be directly involved.
Now, it turned out a little differently than we planned. Our first and second choice finished first and second, but not in that order. We got an anti-Bloomberg. An anti-Quinn. We should be pleased with the result.
(The UFT can also claim credit for Scott Stringer’s victory. There is no question that the UFT endorsement was decisive in the Comptroller’s race)
There is still a possibility of a run-off in the Mayoral race, but it is looking slimmer by the hour. But it may take a week to determine for sure. We should not wait that long.
When the numbers look nearly impossible (we are already very close) we should speak with Thompson. He is a friend of the union. And we endorsed him. But a brutal run-off benefits no one, not when the candidates are our top two choices anyhow.
It is time to focus on undoing the Bloomberg legacy, and protecting students, teachers, schools, and communities from its lingering after-effects. Let’s do what it takes to start that sooner, rather than later.
As the remaining precincts report results, De Blasio stays narrowly, but clearly, over the 40% threshold.
At this moment, based on the NYTimes count (updated every ten minutes), he is at 40.25%, with about 70 precincts left to report.
There are 19,000 paper ballots, including absentees, to be counted, but he would need to take under 31.5% of those ballots to be pushed into a runoff.
In addition, some of the totals for a minor candidate, Randy Credico, seem to have been misreported high (1000 votes in a precinct in the Norwood section of the Bronx, and in one of the precincts that covers the Dyckman houses. Most precincts report less than 200 votes, with 450 usually the max for this election). Removing those counts would mean De Blasio would need a mere 27% on the paper ballots.
In addition, the largest group of remaining precincts this morning was in the area south of the Cross Bronx, north of 153, east of Park Avenue… and that looked likely to push down De Blasio’s numbers. There were 70 uncounted precincts there. There might be 70 more uncounted in the entire rest of the City. And these precincts did deliver under 40% for De Blasio, but the turnout was light enough that they did not make a great change in the total. And the remaining precincts includes one group that should be good for De Blasio (Cobble Hill), one that should be bad (part of Washington Heights), and the rest mixed… in other words, the remaining precincts are highly unlikely to change the game in any major way.
The NYTimes election map I like shows the following votes not yet counted (don’t know if this is accurate)
- Staten Island – 2 precincts
- Brooklyn – Cobble Hill – 7 precincts. (probably good for De Blasio)
- Brooklyn – west of Flatbush, scattered – 7 precincts (some Thompson, some De Blasio)
- Brooklyn – north of Eastern Parkway – 6 scattered precincts ( 2 Thompson, 4 De Blasio)
- Brooklyn – Canarsie, East NY, 11 scattered prencincts (about half and half)
- Rockaway – 6 scattered precincts (all near the 40% line, might hurt De Blasio slightly, or be a wash.)
- The rest of Queens 9 scattered, won’t help De Blasio, probably won’t hurt much, either
- Washington Heights east of Broadway, mostly between 155 and 163 – 14 uncounted precincts. These will pull down De Blasio’s numbers, a little.
- The rest of Manhattan - 7 scattered, neutral overall
- A swath of the south Bronx, south of the Cross Bronx, west of Metro North (Park Avenue), down to about 153rd. In adjacent precincts turnout was light, and De Blasio polled in the 30 – 35% range. There are 70 or so precincts here. This will pull De Blasio down, but the low turnout may mitigate the effect.
- The rest of the Bronx – 10 scattered, hard to predict, probably most close to the 40% mark, so little impact. (Most are near my house – one of the neighborhoods that shows up with swatches of mixed colors on the election map…)
On the precincts still not counted, De Blasio will slip close to 40% even (he was at 40.195% this morning, tweaked down to 40.187% as some Highbridge numbers came in), but probably will not fall below.
And then there’s absentee ballots. Since they were cast earlier, and De Blasio has been on an upswing, that might suggest that they will pull him down a bit. But I really don’t know who casts absentee ballots in NYC. I don’t know how military voters will vote. So that’s a huge question mark, still.
But expect when 100% of the precincts are in, if De Blasio remains over 40, even by a hair, for pressure to come down on Thompson and the UFT to concede.
(more about that, later)
It’s the next morning and we still don’t know if Bill De Blasio won the Democratic Primary by 40% – enough to avoid a run-off.
The New York Times provided a nice map. Go, look, play.
There are buttons on the right to “filter” the map. Push, for example, “Hispanic Areas” – there are two categories of things to notice. First, notice how the colors just changed. Red (Liu) and Yellow (Quinn) faded a bit. And the Green (Thompson), and the Blue (De Blasio) look about equal. Look at the table on the left – it confirms in numbers (34% – 29%) what you are seeing.
Next, notice it is now showing you in which parts of the city at least half of the voters are Hispanic. There’s my borough (of course) but also Washington Heights, Inwood, East Harlem, Jackson Heights, Bushwick, Sunset Park, etc.
Right above the table is a “slider” – move it to the right, until it says 75%. Now you can see the parts of the city where at least three quarters of the residents are Hispanic. You also see that the voting pattern changes – this is no longer close, but a dead heat. Move the slider again, to the left, until you get to 25%. Then hit the “flip” button. you are now looking at the parts of the city where the Hispanic population is less than 25%. Notice all the yellow, as Quinn’s numbers are better here.
Try White, or Asian, or Black. There are interesting things buried here, both about where people live, and about how they voted.
Don’t skip “Income” and “Home Owners”. You can predict how Quinn did among higher income voters. But I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that Thompson was especially strong in home-owning neighborhoods in the outer boroughs… Slide it up to 75%.
I walked a half marathon yesterday, and passed quite a few campaign workers along the way.
The walk started before 1, at 23rd and Eighth. I walked to Columbus Circle, then switched to Broadway, stopping near Columbia for tacos and cucumber margaritas. By the time I made it to 238th, there was little sunlight left.
I saw workers for many campaigns, mostly City Council. But there was literature, here and there, for each of the major candidates for mayor.
Christine Quinn – I saw one person carrying a Quinn sign, in the 20s. In the 140s I saw a guy with a 32BJ t-shirt and a political slogan, but Quinn’s name was absent.
Bill De Blasio – Saw quite a bit on the Upper West Side – mostly for him alone. There were some multi-candidate handbills in that neighborhood that included him. He apparently had a Saturday UWS appearance that was being promoted. He also showed up on one or two multiple candidate thingies in the 170s.
Bill Thompson – nothing – until 139. I saw three groups of UFTers (139, somewhere in the 160s or 170s, and one in the Bronx) handing out his stuff. I also saw a few multiple candidate signs, putting him together with people who the UFT has not endorsed.
John Liu – no hand bills. His stuff was in a scattering of shop windows, starting on the UWS, and all the way up. Some of them were Chinese businesses – but I started looking – some were not.
Anthony Weiner – I noticed two discarded handbills by the parking lot for Twin Donut at 218 Street. I had just been around the corner Thursday, having dinner with a few colleagues at the Indian Road Cafe (and noticed a former UFT president having a group Rosh Hashonah dinner – maybe I should have said hello, but I felt awkward intruding).
I guess I was a bit surprised by how little mayoral stuff was happening – but maybe handbills in the street is no longer the way to go.