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UFT.org Home > News > New York Teacher > News stories > Evaluations, SESIS, millionaire's tax focus of first session
by Michael Hirsch | October 27, 2011 New York Teacher issue
Two measures approved
Bruce Cotler Delegates approved two resolutions:
- A resolution on teacher evaluation and the Danielson framework of teaching that demanded that the DOE follow its pledge that “until the full evaluation system was negotiated by the UFT and the DOE, no part of it, including the Danielson framework, should be used in the evaluation of teachers” and affirmed the union’s commitment to a teacher evaluation system “based on principles of professional inquiry, professional growth and development, collaboration and trust.” The resolution promised that the union would use “all contractual, legal and other means at our disposal to stop its misuse in schools where supervisors are engaged in rogue evaluations that violate our members’ rights.”
- A resolution endorsing the re-election of Dan Donovan as Staten Island district attorney on Nov. 1.
Upstate town thanks UFT
Miller Photography After Hurricane Irene caused devastating flooding in upstate New York, including the small town of Schoharie, educators in the 106-member Schoharie Teachers Association sprang into action, gutting and rebuilding homes. A busload of UFT members traveled to Schoharie on Oct. 9 to help install insulation and Sheetrock.
At the Delegate Assembly, Schoharie union president Martin Messner thanked the UFT, saying, “The support you’ve given us has been life-changing; you allowed us to do what needed to be done to help our town.”
He noted that the community of Schoharie, with an active Tea Party following, was prone to vilify unions. “But they’re going to remember that the UFT was there when it was needed, the teachers were there when they were needed, and where was Wall Street? They don’t know,” he said.
Messner then presented Mulgrew with a plaque on which were mounted an industrial stapler and an utility knife — key tools needed to install insulation. The UFT Disaster Relief Fund presented a check for $10,000 to NYSUT to help flood victims, and then another $3,500 was collected from delegates in attendance.
At the Oct. 19 Delegate Assembly, the first since the summer break, UFT President Michael Mulgrew reported on principals abusing the teacher evaluation system, the dysfunctional Special Education Student Information System and the need to make the state’s richest pay their fair share of taxes.
Noting that members have reported that principals are using what they claim are Danielson rubrics in evaluations, Mulgrew referred to his Sept. 20 letter, jointly signed by the schools chancellor and the principals’ union head, stating unambiguously that there would be no changes in the current evaluation system until a new system is negotiated with the UFT.
“Only the 31 Restart and Transformation schools needed to implement a new evaluation system now,” Mulgrew said.
Mulgrew said the problem wasn’t the Danielson framework, which is a professional growth and development model, but the DOE’s misinformed use of it.
“Danielson focuses on the interaction between teachers and students in the classroom,” he said. “It’s about preparing, delivering instruction and then thinking about how it was delivered. It’s not about evidence-collecting procedures as grist for a U rating.”
Mulgrew urged delegates to report to the union attempts by principals to employ Danielson in evaluations.
He then excoriated the DOE for its blundering on SESIS.
“It’s a big mess,” he said. “I don’t know if the DOE can fix it.”
Mulgrew noted that the UFT has filed a union-initiated grievance asking that the DOE be ordered to confine SESIS-related work to regular work hours and reimburse members for any documented work done outside those hours.
For the past three years, the city has failed to apply for an estimated $500 million in Medicaid reimbursement fees because it hasn’t documented its services for special education students, Mulgrew noted. SESIS was designed to provide that documentation, he said, but the DOE did not consider the time and equipment needed to do the work.
“We’re grieving it, but we’re also saying ‘please fix this,’ because we’re in no position to lose $500 million a year,” he said.
Mulgrew said that he was impressed with the turnout of UFT members on short notice at the Occupy Wall Street march on Oct. 5. He also said he was proud that the union could help the protesters store personal property at union headquarters.
“We agree with them that 1 percent should not continue to get richer at the expense of the 99 percent and the income disparity is the greatest danger we face as a society,” he said. “Those are the things we have complete common ground about.”
Speaking of the damage done to schools by budget cuts, he called again for the renewal of the state millionaire’s tax.
“We are not going to sit by and let our children get hurt anymore,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
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