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A Moratorium on the Consequences of Testing?

October 11, 2013 pm31 12:59 pm

What exactly does that mean?

Well, the UFT passed a resolution at Wednesday’s Delegate Assembly (10/9), calling for such a moratorium. And that’s it. It’s a call.

It doesn’t commit UFT resources. It doesn’t call ON anyone in particular, to DO anything in particular. It simply puts the UFT on record, opposing one piece of the awful process that has been going on (testing, Danielson, Common Core, Progress Reports), and continues to get worse.

The consequence of this moratorium is that the UFT has hiccuped. There is a pause in our support for this evaluation system, however partial that pause is. And that change, from gung ho, matters. It is a beginning, an opening.

When the resolution was first presented at the Monday Executive Board (October 7), I rose to oppose much of the basis of the resolution. “We have and will continue to have major disagreement over this evaluation system.” But I supported the resolution – the “resolved” won’t be enacted by the city or the state, but if it were, it would delay for a full year any teacher being fired by this system, it would delay by one year a new set of “progress reports” used to torture schools, it would halt for one year holding students back based on test scores. It would have nothing but positive effect.

In New Action’s leaflet at the DA, we took the same position:

New Action sharply disagrees with the UFT leadership regarding the Common Core, the new Teacher Evaluation system (or even the need for one), and the potential abuse by administrators in issuing “ineffectives” to teachers. But we wholeheartedly agree with the call to put a moratorium on consequences for high stakes standardized tests.

And I attempted to get the floor at the Delegate Assembly to make the same points.

Two speakers opposed did get the floor. Vince Wojsnis of MORE spoke well against the Common Core, and against the entire evaluation system.  But instead of supporting the resolution and pushing to go further, MORE opposed it. Now, they had not seen it until they arrived (or Monday evening at the earliest, if their people who observed the UFT Exec Board told them about it). And on short notice it is hard to carefully consider a complicated resolution. But the short time is only part of the story. There is also the “primary reaction.” And MORE’s primary reaction is knee-jerk opposition. I wonder if critical support even occurred to them. The Union moved, a little, Wednesday, and MORE left themselves opposed.

They may have also been in poor humor for a related reason. They called for a demonstration on the street in front of the Delegate Assembly, and had quite a poor turnout.

Their bad humor about the turn of events (demonstration, and painting themselves into a corner at the DA) may also explain a spate of attacks on New Action on MORE/GEM/ICE supporters blogs in the two days since the DA. I count five, including on MORE’s official website. They know New Action opposes the evaluation system and tying evaluation to test scores, they know New Action opposes the Common Core, they know the resolution was introduced by Unity, not New Action, and they know that New Action is an independent caucus, but when MORE gets worked up, they lose it, and write or say things they know to be untrue.

In any case, the union moved a tiny bit forward on Wednesday. That in and of itself is significant. We must push much further. The immediate effects, the abuse, all the day to day stuff tied to the evaluation system, it all needs to be resisted. (The UI grievance on lesson planning is a good, positive example). And we must keep up pressure to address the system as a whole: to renegotiate as much of it as possible, and to actually undo the state law that put APPR into place in the first place.


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