Bluster or Bullying: Is It All About the Race to the Top Dollars, or Has Bloomberg Decided to Confront the Union? Posturing for Obama/Duncan or Rolling in the Gutter With Mulgrew? Remember Mike Quill?


Chancellor’s Regulation (draft,perhaps)
Teachers shall not be granted tenure if their classes, for two of the prior three years, have not exhibited growth of at least one grade equivalent as measured by either NYS achievement data or achievement data tools created by the Department.
At a Washington DC meeting of the Center for American Progress, sitting along side Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Mayor Bloomberg laid out his educational agenda, with a surprise,
The Mayor also announced that he has instructed City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein to begin using student performance data immediately to inform teacher tenure decisions.
In the spring, 2008 the NYS legislature amended the law in regard to the granting of tenure, adding the following provisions,
  13    2.  The  regents  shall,  prescribe  rules for the manner in which the     14  process for evaluation of a  candidate  for  tenure  [shall]  is  to  be

    15  conducted  [in the manner prescribed in the regents’].  Such rules [and]

    16  shall include[, but need not  be  limited  to,]  a  combination  of  the

    17  following minimum standards:

    18    a. evaluation of the extent to which the teacher successfully utilized

    19  analysis of available student performance data and other relevant infor-

    20  mation  when  providing instruction but the teacher shall not be granted

    21  or denied tenure based on student performance data;

    22    b. peer review by other teachers, as far as practicable; and

    23    c. an assessment of the teacher’s performance by the teacher’s  build-

    24  ing principal or other building administrator in charge of the school or

    25  program.

Whether or not the Mayor can direct the Chancellor and whether or not the imposition of a “student performance data” metric as a tenure determinant is a legal issue to be hashed out by the lawyers.

For me, the more interesting section was the next section, “peer review by other teachers, as far as practicable,” a major step toward changing the cultures of schools, and also totally ignored by all.

The focus on data has seized the attention of this newer generation, and not only in education. I attended an education conference and the handout was a book, “Moneyball,” by Billy Bean, dealing with how data has allowed baseball teams with less revenue to draft and trade for players and build competitive teams. This use of data in baseball has a name, Sabermetrics.

You may know what an RBI is, and an ERA, but how about VORP and WAR and CHONE? However, if I remember correctly the team that spent $200 million on contracts for three players did win the World Series.

Data drives the selection of prospective teachers. The New Teacher Project, Teach for America and the RISE Network pre-screen teachers using their own data tools as a predictor of teaching success.

The agenda laid out by the Mayor, as reported at Gotham Schools, basically the Michelle Rhee agenda, is a direct challenge to the NYC teacher union, it not only calls for the use of student performance data to evaluate teachers but addresses a range of other core issues, all of which will require changes in state law.

Teachers have been slow to adopt the data-driven approach to instruction. Anecdotally, the “clicks” on the ARIS system, the pupil data storage warehouse are embarrassingly low. School Inquiry Teams, aka Children First Teams, in most schools have little impact on classroom instruction.

I was speaking with a teacher, identified by the principal as an “outstanding” teacher, with about five years of experience, a TFA teacher who committed to a career in teaching, how often she accessed ARIS this year. She said twice, once within the first few days, she related that she read it carefully, and found it “enlightening.” She accessed a few weeks later to confirm her opinions. I asked what were her most serious concerns about the children in her class? Data did not inform her concerns: A ten year old boy, her favorite, and clearly smart, although his test scores were mediocre, couldn’t wait until he was old enough to become a full fledged “blood,” and a girl in the class, also smart, and underachieving, couldn’t wait to emulate her fourteen year old sister and have a baby. She told me, “I looked and looked on ARIS, couldn’t find helpful data for these kids.”

For the Mayor its all about the $150 million in RttT funding hanging in the balance, in a year when schools are awaiting the final word on a midyear 1.5% cut, and a possible 2.5% cut for the 10-11 school year. And, remember, the stimulus funds will not be around for the 11-12 school year.

The union has moved about as close as it can to the Mayor without getting pregnant. A union election in February/March, another avalanche of school closings, a contract that appeared a done deal may turn out to be a bruising struggle and an Albany legislature battered by the media.

Perhaps Bloomberg chose to make his speech on one of the slowest news days of the year to assure that the news would be buried, but, just in case, maybe UFT Prez Mulgrew should brushing up on those 1960’s TWU head Mike Quill speeches.



4 responses to “Bluster or Bullying: Is It All About the Race to the Top Dollars, or Has Bloomberg Decided to Confront the Union? Posturing for Obama/Duncan or Rolling in the Gutter With Mulgrew? Remember Mike Quill?

  1. The UFT is looking sillier and sillier for supporting the continuation of unfettered mayoral control and not supporting Bill Thompson in the recent election.


  2. Have they finally awakened the sleeping giant (the UFT)? Now we will see what president Mike is really made of. The raises, the ATR, the end of excessing? We’ll see how this one goes.


  3. Don’t worry about the raises. They’re not important. This is about survival, just like Ocean Hill Brownsville in 1968. If they can suggest that tenure be tied to test scores, if they can fire teachers wholesale simply by eliminating their school (which is what they want to do with ATR), then the union has lost everything.


  4. There so much talk about the Tweed’s legal eagles finding holes in the legislation’s law on the issue of granting tenure. We, the rank and file, have a right to know what loopholes in the law the BloomKlein deformers are using that will affect every untenured teacher. Money is not the issue anymore! We need to protect those that will fall victims to Klein’s attacks. Raises can come later once the union and the members have come up with a good, solid plan that will foil all the education deforms that pseudoeducrats are devising against teachers. The union will need to take BOLD steps and have a STRONG action plan. Otherwise, the union’s 50th anniversay in March 2010 will be meaningless.


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