Speakers—Eric Mears—Health Opportunities High School—(delivered me his speech, which I present verbatim)
Ladies and gentlemen,
I speak today to address the shocking sample comments of the Charlotte Danielson rubric; particularly the “Professional Responsibilities” section.
One can infer from these comments that teachers who are unwilling to do free labor or commit treachery against their colleagues may be rated Developing or worse. Teachers' opinions may also be used as reasons for low ratings under Danielson.
Here are four egregious examples of sample comments:
1. "The teacher listens to his principal's feedback after a lesson, but isn't sure that the recommendations really apply in his situation." (Developing; Component 4.E. - Growing and Developing Professionally)
- Here, the teacher is to be penalized for being skeptical about his principal’s feedback; in other words, for his opinion. Indeed, even if the teacher carries out all of his principal’s suggestions conscientiously, he shall be punished for his lack of faith in them. The Developing rating is to be assigned, in short, because a teacher has committed a thought crime.
2. "The teacher says, 'I have always known my grade partner to be truthful. If she called in sick, then I believe her.' " (Developing; Component 4.f. – Showing Professionalism)
- Here again, the teacher is to be evaluated based on his opinion of his colleague. This is already absurd. But worse, a teacher can only show that he distrusts his grade partner by investigating her, quarreling with her, gossiping about her, or performing some other treacherous act. And the Danielson rubric would reward him for doing so.
3. "The teacher considers staying late to help some of her students in after-school daycare but then realizes it would conflict with her health club class and so decides against it.” (Developing; Component 4.f. Showing Professionalism.).
- Here, a teacher is to be punished for failing to provide extra and perhaps free labor in her school. This fact alone would seem to make the Danielson rubric illegal and inadmissible as a document through which to evaluate teachers. At minimum, it is contemptuous of teachers’ dignity and time.
4. "The principal says, 'I wish I didn't have to ask the teacher to 'volunteer' every time we need someone to chaperone the dance." (Developing; Component 4.d. – Participating in the Professional Community)
- Here, a teacher spends his free time chaperoning every school dance that occurs in a given school year. But because his principal asked him to volunteer, he is perversely punished with a Developing rating. This comment is not only anti-labor (and probably illegal) like the others. It is also poorly written and not thought through.
Nothing can ameliorate a rubric that is tainted by these sample comments that encourage the violation of labor law. It is immoral, illegal, and unacceptable to evaluate teachers in the way that Danielson prescribes.
So, what should be done? I recommend two actions and a contingency:
Action #1: Demand that the DOE rescind all Developing or Ineffective ratings that were given during the Danielson era - - - or at least rescind those ratings in categories where Danielson encourages labor law violations.
Action #2: Demand that the DOE replace Danielson with an alternative that is devised and agreed upon by NYC teachers and principals. The consultant class does not deserve a say in any new system; not after five years of crudely encouraging labor violations under Danielson.
Contingency: If the DOE does not agree to these two demands, file a class action lawsuit on behalf of all teachers who have been harmed by Danielson. This should be a winnable lawsuit – since the document blatantly encourages administrators to violate labor law.
A school system that uses Danielson does not respect its educators, or basic labor law, for that matter. And a union that allows Danielson is not serving its members. Please act, now, UFT leaders, to repair the harm that Danielson has done, and would continue to do, to UFT teachers.
Schoor—Are these examples?
Mear—They’re sample comments.
Schoor—Send them to me.
Roberta Pixar—fired from Adult Ed.—Asks union to help with budget. All other teachers have access to school budgets. As public agency budget is public, but Rosemary Mills has denied access as we watch program eliminated.
Told we could no longer teach low level students due to funding. Program being dismembered. We want to see budget.
One third classes closed despite over 50 million budget. Career and tech training disappearing.
Mills bought kindergarten and college books with no levels in between. They are useless, no money left to buy appropriate ones. Mills hired managers rather than buy books. More and more of our teachers and support staff are fired and handed out. Strictly per session program with no benefits lately.
Barr has budget but has not released to chapter. What is the secret? We are now being denied access by our own union.
We need to see where money has gone year by year, we need income sources and detailed expenditures. We suspect mismanagement, at least. We want our program back, alive, not moribund.
Asks that UFT stops withholding budget from members. Want to see it and five previous budgets. Will you do that?
Schoor—We have it, we are analyzing it. Parts of it are public, but not all of it. CLs entitled to part of it. There are different views of budget. We will give it to CL with our analysis.
Mulgrew not here—says if you haven’t seen DeVos interview you should get it. This is what you get for 200 million in donations.
LeRoy Barr—middle school conference, great event, thanks Richard Mantel, guidance conference and para luncheon, went well. Letter from DOE about 17 minute walkout, March 14, encourage schools to have plans. Make sure students are safe, volunteer. UFT Anniversary March 16. Saturday elementary conference. March 21 DA, EB March 26. March against gun violence March 24.
Janella Hinds—UFT will support March for Our Lives in Central Park. March 24th
Schoor—As we get info on marches we share
Vince G—praises menu change. Thanks LeRoy Barr.
Arthur Goldstein—MORE—It appears our brothers and sisters in the Absent Teacher Reserve will be eligible to vote in chapter leader and delegate elections. That’s positive. Less positive is the fact that many or most of them will not be in the same schools come September. I speak to a lot of ATRs, and they feel about this just as many of us felt about the Electoral College when Trump won.
I understand leadership’s position that the ATR is temporary, and like everyone here, I’d like it as temporary as possible. I understand that as an objection to a permanent chapter. I’d therefore propose we establish a temporary chapter, to be dissolved as soon as the ATR is. Like all of you I’m concerned about Janus, and I think our brothers and sisters in the ATR require and deserve a unique voice to express their unique interests.
Can we work together to make that happen this year?
Schoor—You can make a proposal. Question period not proper time. Made this decision three years ago. This board voted. Some people filed a complaint at US Labor Dept.
Goldstein—With all due respect, I’m speaking for teachers here, I'm trying to help them regardless of what US Labor Dept may have said.
KJ Ahluwalia--New Action--I deal with ATRs as well, was in phased out school. What about security? Often have no keys. Have to scramble for someone to lock door. How do we protect them and make them feel like citizens instead of pariahs?
Schoor—We should ask DOE to come up with plan. Thank you for question.
Mike Sill—Appreciate that question. Wrote to Randy Asher about this issue. DOE sometimes lacks uniform policies. Some schools have universal keys, some are individual. DOE agrees. It’s something our safety division is taking up as well. Need to work to make it happen.
Ashraya Gupta—MORE—We have folks here who are labor lawyers. Could we get a response on that? Is it in violation of labor law?
Schoor—Agree. That’s why I asked for questions.
Marcus McArthur—MORE—People concerned about Janus. In my school we’ve assembled committee. Members want to know what’s next. What can we do now?
Schoor—Have a program, door knockers. We don’t know yet what decision will say. Could say you don’t need new cards. Might say we have to have different language and have to resign everyone. May have to do it each year. Many possible variations. We are reaching out. Soon there will be a new UFT app. Will introduce at DA on 21st. We think we do a great job now but we have to do more.
?—Professional conciliation—What if DOE gives us curriculum but it isn’t good? How can we address it?
Debbie Poulos—Anyone interested in this, we created a form for assistance. Sometimes it can also be paperwork. Fill out form or email me.
Shelvy Abrams—Want to respond to Marcus—Talk to members. Those of you who heard about Wisconsin, it can happen here. This is what we can lose, bargaining, health. This is do or die situation.
Schoor—Our contract controls many things in your life. That’s what we’ve fought for since March 16, 1960. Everything is in the book and everything is at stake.
Reports from Districts
Tom Murphy RTC—We are on the road, visit 4K retirees. Janus concerns us. Trying to make PR like NOLA. Evelyn de Jesus asked us to help. We are coordinating 146 people.
Anne Goldman—Thanks from nurses who ratified a contract. We don’t assume that we will successfully bargain without power in political arena and bargaining table. Striking issue for us is they often want our pension. We’re part of a giant ruthless system, but they invested 80 million in it, result of our fight. We work with staffing similar to class size. Quite pricey to achieve. Have struck twice, but achieved our success because of all of you. We’re in it together, part of attack on each of us. Overwhelmingly ratified. Thank you.
Shelvy Abrams—Para luncheon Saturday, 1000 members. Thanks all who came, Ellie Engler and Teacher Center, did great job. Hardest working people in schools, so next time I want more than 1000 and want to see members.
Janella Hinds—March 1, we held Future in Focus, hosted 36 colleges, 30 labor unions who presented to 600 HS students, exposed to college and career, especially unionized.
Events—Triangle Shirtwaist Fire commemoration—sweatshop fire, women 16-20 died horribly, every year they remember them, March 23rd at noon.
Herstory—brunch and celebration to honor women in labor movement March 25th.
Academic HS Awards, Friday April 13th, fourth annual.
Amy Arundell—PEP meeting last week—Several schools were voted on, two of which in Queens, 42 and 53, HS in Manhattan, and others. Raucous meeting, reminiscent of Bloomberg era, ended 2:30 AM. 42, 53 and Health Careers were kept open. Denied mayor these closings. Left at 12:30 feeling sad, and someone texted me to say they didn’t pass. Isn’t that amazing?
Happened because 3 school communities fought tooth and nail for schools. Packed meetings.
Members expressed feelings with help of our reps. Much political work going on, provided financial support. Bused communities in. Testament to work not just of union but also to community partners. Great day and lesson. All of us will save all of us.
Thanks union and all resources, school communities, parents and activists. Unionism looks bright to me now.
Paul Egan—Big week for Chelsea playing Barcelona. Won on weekend. Next week is Lobby Day. Over 1100 people. Packed. Opportunity to make our presence felt. Please attend. Door knocking is ongoing. Four trainings, fifth going on in April. Asks if you know or can recommend someone please reach out.
2018 chapter election guide—
LeRoy Barr—Rises to motivate—same as what we did in 2015. Made sure that everyone repped by UFT could nominate, vote and run. Asks you adopt this guide and by laws.
Gender Neutral Restroom Resolution
Rashad Brown—Requests UFT provide gender neutral restrooms in offices. UFT has been in center of many fights to help LGBT and other communities. Good also for children. AFT does it at assemblies, so does NEA. DOE has it in place for students. Urges yes vote.
Arthur Goldstein—MORE—Since our last class size resolution, we’ve given a lot of thought to the idea that all contractual negotiation was the province of the 300 member committee. We acknowledge and understand that position, which is why this resolution makes no mention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and proposes nothing related to it.
Instead, we’re focusing on an existing mandate. This gives us a golden opportunity to support our students and members without touching upon confidential negotiations. It’s been a long time since we’ve taken concrete steps to help the class size situation. In actual fact, it’s been over half a century.
Here’s a way for us to address not only class size, but also the problematic nature of enforcement. Instead of giving teachers a day off from tutoring, let’s offer those who violate the law consequences worthy of lawbreakers. Let’s make recalcitrant principals and DOE lawyers subject to actual law and its consequences. Let’s decisively end the practice of making teachers and students pay when administrators and lawyers who claim to place, “Children First, Always” practice contempt for the law. We can do that right here and right now.
Let’s take this opportunity to show communities and members that we will zealously press for the enforcement of regulations designed to help and support them. Let’s show our colleagues, at this crucial juncture, that union is there to support them. Let’s show city parents that we, the people who wake up every day to work with their children, are the people who really put children first.
And let’s tell politicians who cavalierly ignore the law that we won’t allow them to do it anymore.
Stuart Kaplan—amendment—Strike second to last “Whereas” and first Resolved. Adds Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.
Gregg Lundahl—Asks to strike second to last Whereas (same one) Says there is a difference between C4E and CFE, C4E doesn’t have specific numbers, but there is a great deal of money withheld since 2015. Don’t wish to pay for it in contract negotiations. These are specific numbers. Much more comfortable with our substitute resolution. If we fight to do this for the contract money will have to come from somewhere. Let’s get money from state.
Kiera—Point person for class sizes. Speaks in support of the amendment. Looks at it from negotiation standpoint. Doesn’t want to make class size negotiation public policy.
First strike next to last whereas—Vote.
Passes on party lines.
Passes on party lines.
Passes on party lines.
Resolution as amended passes on party lines.
We are adjourned.
RESOLUTION TO REDUCE CLASS SIZES TO C4E LAW LEVELS (actual class size language now stricken)
Whereas, reducing class size has proven to be one of the best ways to improve student learning, lower teacher attrition rates and disciplinary problems, and narrow achievement and opportunity gaps between racial and economic groups; and
Whereas, NYC schools continue to have the largest average class sizes in the state, and NY’s highest court said that our class sizes were too large in our schools to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education; and
Whereas, UFT contractual class size limits continue to be ignored by the DOE; and
Whereas, the DOE uses outlandish “action plans” to address these limits; and
Whereas, the NYC DOE recently reported class sizes have continued to increase this year; and
Whereas, Article 8L in the 2005 Contract called in part for a labor-management committee to discuss lowering class size if Campaign for Fiscal Equity Settlement funding was available; and
Whereas, the 2007 Contracts for Excellence (C4E) law, which settled the CFE case, required NYC to reduce class size in all grades; and
Whereas, the goals for class size in the city’s original C4E plan, approved by the state in the fall of 2007, are for an average of no more than 20 students per class in K-3, 23 in grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes; and
Whereas, the Department of Education has flouted this law flagrantly since 2007; and
Whereas, the DOE gets C4E funding that is often not used to reduce class size; be it therefore
Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to the C4E limits of 20 students in a class K-3, 23 in Grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal; and be it further
Resolved, that funding for this class size reduction should not in any way affect monies for contractual raises for UFT members as the DOE is already receiving C4E money to reduce class sizes from the state.
Added: Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.