Peeing into the Wind: Why is Klein Picking Losing Fights With the Teachers Union?

 Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
that grow so incredibly high

Why are Klein and his cronies peeing into the wind? Aside increasing cleaning bills, what does it achieve?

Late last school year the Department embarked upon a research project: to investigate whether pupil achievement data can be used to measure individual teacher performance. Basically, bringing the School Report Card concept down to the individual teacher level. The project was done quietly, with some consultation with the teacher union. Last week, Chris Cerf, the Deputy Chancellor, at a speech in Washington announced that the purpose of the “study” was to use the results for a merit pay scheme and/or for tenure decisions.

Researchers do develop measurements of teacher performance, but would never use them for “merit” pay or tenure denial decisions, the measurements are not precise.

The folks over at Edwize, Leo Casey and City Sue, skewered the concept, and, the blogosphere in general was skeptical.

A few days ago a not-for-profit announced an agreement with the Department to create a number of extended day Middle Schools, without any discussions/agreements with the union.

In both instances Union President Randi Weingarten was not amused.

Why is the Department seeking fights that it cannot win?

 Speculations: Bloomberg is building an education platform for his Presidential run and wants to distance himself from teacher unions. 

The two major teacher unions, the NEA and the AFT will endorse the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee will seek out the Charter School/Voucher gang.  Mike wants to carve out a place in the middle. Sort of pro public school and pro Charter, tough on unions, and point to gains in test scores, whether real or perceived.

 Klein is working on his” legacy” for life after Tweed.

With a ticking clock and increasing “pushback” from the electeds and the wider community Klein is seeking to garnish his resume … “this is what I accomplished, and this is what I would have accomplished if my ‘enemies,’ (i.e., unions) hadn’t prevented it.” Old Chancellors never die, they just become university or foundation presidents, or, if Mike or the Repubs seize the Presidency, Secty of Education.

 With rumors of the teacher union leader Randy Weingarten leaving soon  the Department is becoming aggressive figuring the union might be weak.

Actually, from the union perspective, the best thing a new leader can ask for is a “winning” confrontation with management. By the time the Department completes the teacher performance metric, if it is completed at all, it will be spring, 09, on the edge of the end of the Klein regency. From the Klein side of the fence maybe they think a brand new union president will be conciliatory, or, maybe make some political misstep, and the “testing” has begun.


But, then again, maybe that smoky aroma in the bathrooms of Tweed isn’t burning leaves …


2 responses to “Peeing into the Wind: Why is Klein Picking Losing Fights With the Teachers Union?

  1. Or maybe, Klein recognizing his failure to move the system in a positive direction is grasping at straws (admittedly straws that will appeal to a right wing corporate audience) in a desperate attempt to salvage something from the longest tenure of a schools Chancellor.

    In what should have been a period where we built on stability to focus on improving schools, we have had three major, and countless minor, reorganziations. Test scores have not improved relative to the rest of the state when the nYC scores are subtracted from the state’s, and scores on the only truly objective measure, the NAEP, show declines.

    What has Klein used seven years to accomplish? Is the school system better for his tenure?

    The judgment of history isn’t in yet, but I believe we’ll end of concluding that even where he had good ideas his antagonism to working with the teachers and their Union and his unwillingness to trust veteran educators to implement them doomed him to failure.

    What is sad is that the ideas may die because of his inability to manage the system.


  2. Engaging info:) will visit soon.


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