Any "teacher measurement project" funded by the Gates foundation should start ringing alarm bells. What on earth is the UFT doing participating in this "study," as UFT president Mike Mulgrew just announced?
The UFT's "participation" reminds me of the" time-motion" study guy coming to the factory assembly line, and you're asked to help him out as he measures arm movements and clocks your bathroom breaks so they can use it for speed-up. No way.
What makes an effective teacher? We do not accept the premise that individually evaluating teachers' "techniques" is relevant to improving education. The whole emphasis on "teacher evaluation", tied to students' test scores, is part of the corporatization of American education.
The UFT Teachers Center is an excellent resource that works with teachers to be more effective in the classroom. They do some excellent PD, workshops, cooperative modeling and team-teaching. This is NOT what the Gates foundation study is about.
We need good professional development, and we are committed to teachers' lifelong learning, and use of the most modern technology and methodology in the classrom. But that is very different from what is going on here.
The education "business" aims to "cut costs" in the classroom. Beginning in the 1980s, nationwide the education budget as a percentage of the GNP was sharply reduced. These corporate chiefs wanted to get more bang for their buck. This means attacks on teacher tenure, getting rid of senior teachers to drive salaries down to the level of teaching fellows. It means, not "spending time" in the classroom on enrichment activities, on general topics, reading, discussion that goes anywhere except how to pass standardized tests so kids can be useful for the employers. Now, it means the proliferation of charter schools which by getting rid of union contracts sharply increase teacher time, and regulated salary increases.
How do you "measure" a good science teacher? I've seen superb science teachers teaching high school kids in the Bronx, without a science lab, without the most minimal equipment, standing up on a chair in the hallway and dropping a ball to demonstrate gravity! If you want to measure what makes a good science teacher, how about giving him or her a decent science lab and then comparing the results before and after? If you want to help kids learn, have decent equipment in every high school, smart boards in every classroom, give every student access to computers that don't belong in a junkyards.
Coming from Mike Mulgrew, as with Randi, this offer to "collaborate" on a "teacher measurement" paid survey is typical of how they now operate. Instead of just saying "no", and opposing something outright, they cooperate with it and try to "make the best of a bad situation." Then we're stuck with the bad situation, and they say, "Well, it could have been worse."
The same thing happened when seniority transfers was given up in 2005. Instead of holding on, they traded it for a raise and the result ...... up to 2,000 teachers now in the Absent Teacher Reserve.
The answer is a union leadership that demands massive new investment in school facilities, training, and resources. Can't do it because of the economic crisis? Wrong, this is exactly when they ought to be investing. They find trillions to "rescue" the banks. Right now, a quarter of NYC schools don't have gyms, and 70 percent don't meet state requirements for hours of physical education' Of all schools in the Bronx, 22 percent don't have outdoor physical education activities at all?
Where are the art and music teachers? In the ATR pool or on the unemployment line.
--- On Wed, 9/2/09, Michael Mulgrew - UFT President <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Michael Mulgrew - UFT President <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Seeking volunteers for a teacher evaluation study
Date: Wednesday, September 2, 2009, 12:16 PM
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