Teacher unions have a strong stake in maintaining the status quo. Not exactly a news flash, I know, but this report from the Education Action Group outlines how far they will go (or what they will give up) to prevent evaluations of their members based on performance.
Makes one shake his or her head — at the very minimum.
A year and a half.
That’s how long New York City’s teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, had to agree to a new teacher evaluation system that would have allowed New York Public Schools to receive $60 million in federal aid.
The money was part of President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, and would have gone to help 33 of the district’s lowest-achieving schools hire more teachers and instructional aides.
In order to get the money, all UFT needed to do was approve a teacher evaluation system that contained some measurement of student learning. The evaluations would have been used to determine teacher tenure and future employment.
But UFT President Michael Mulgrew insisted that an outside arbitrator be used to decide cases involving teachers who received an unsatisfactory job review.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that would only add “a burdensome procedural layer designed to keep ineffective teachers in the classroom,” thus undermining the entire purpose of the reform.
When it was clear late last week that the union would not budge on its demands, New York’s Education Commissioner John King Jr. pulled the plug on the $60 million.
“The failure to reach agreements on evaluations leaves thousands of students mired in the same education morass,” King told the New York Post. “Until the grown-ups in charge start acting that way, it won’t be a very happy new year for the students.”
Like all teacher unions, the UFT always insists that it has the best interests of children at heart. But not even $60 million earmarked for improving bad schools was enough to persuade the union to beef up teacher accountability standards, which means the students lose on both counts.
“Actions speak louder than words” might be an old adage, but it certainly applies here.