All Edueyes On Gotham!

It’s throwdown time in New York again. Elizabeth Green has the goods along with Jennifer Medina at The Times. Primary source you must read: The long rumored The New Teacher Project report (pdf) on excessed teachers (meaning those that no school wants to hire who are in what is formally referred to as the “Absent Teacher Reserve” pool) is now on the street. The big takeaway is that this is, right now, about a $40 million annual problem. And even in Gotham that’s a lot of clams.

This is the problem that everyone knew was coming. During the last round of contract negotiations a “mutual consent” provision was instituted that basically curtailed what is known as bumping or seniority provisions and meant that schools had to want the teachers who were teaching there rather than teachers being able to unilaterally insert themselves in a school. It’s a good reform but it does mean that there is a pool of teachers who can’t find jobs. But, as the TNTP analysis shows, this is not a problem of great teachers caught in an unfair system but rather a system that seems to be introducing a healthy level of talent sensitivity into hiring.

But, while the mayor and the chancellor have the data on their side (as they did with the process that led to mutual consent in the first place) the politics here are awful. That’s because UFT President Randi Weingarten is poised to become head of the American Federation of Teachers. She’s blown hot and cold on reform lately. The teacher evaluation provisions recently put into the New York code are a disaster but she’s also championed a pay for performance pilot and opened some charter schools and invited Green Dot Public Schools into the city. Just yesterday at a panel at the Milken Global Institute annual forum philanthropist Eli Broad said she could be the “second coming” of Al Shanker. But she has to be careful not to be seen as presiding over a mass firing of teachers a few months from her election or, conversely, damaging her public brand as a reformer by digging in on an issue where the evidence simply does not support a hard line position at all. That’s why there needs to be a deal. TNTP has put some fair ideas on the table that hopefully, after the theater that is par for the course with this stuff is over, will be a way through.

5 thoughts on “All Edueyes On Gotham!

  1. Sherman Dorn

    The report is a starting place, Andy, and I’m sure Klein/Bloomberg will try to use it to stir up headlines beyond today. But I suspect the Rubber Room is a far greater scandal in terms of both treatment of some of those in there (mixing up people who are on the wrong side of a principal with folks who are serious head cases) and also in terms of costs.

    Despite your fears, I suspect that the documentation of general teacher support for the new system will be more important to UFT’s leadership than the concerns about the long-term non-selectees (for want of a more gracious term). The latter is a serious issue that is both a practical matter and an issue of ethics. We’re both outside Gotham, and I know better than to predict how the politics will play out…

  2. john thompson

    I’ll follow the debate before forming an opinion of the TNTP report. I’d like to hear a discussion on your title, All Edueyes on Gotham.”

    What are the adavantages and disadvantages of using NYC as a model for national reforms? I assume that anything that comes from the Klein/Bloomberg administration is a lie dow to the commas. Smaller districts ought to be able to approach these issues in a more trustwothy way, shouldn’t they? After all, the key is to integrate the human element into multiple measures, and that should be easier on a smaller scale.

    But, on the hopeful side, Ed Sector has expertise. What have you done to persuade the Administration of the need for a valid evaluation system?

    What would happen if NYC adopted an evaluation system along the lines suggested from the Ed Sector’s publications, while the school grading system was established along the lines of the UFT’s 360 degrees accountability? Problems associated with a few hundred teachers would then shrink.

    And since we all should agree on the importance of removing ineffective teachers – especially before they get tenure – shouldn’t that be a strong argument for adopting real, evidence-based decision-making?

    And if the concept of trust, along with social scientifically-defensible use of data, could be adopted, perhaps NYCs approach could be replicated.

  3. Anonymous

    Mr. Thompson: The data in the report make it look like there is a good informal evaluation system in place now, schools do not want most of these teachers.

  4. john thompson

    I may not have made myself clear. I have carefully read The Ed Sector report on Drive-by Evaluations, and the UFTs 360 degree accountability. I wasn’t commenting on the TNTP report, except to indicate that those remaining 230 teachers shouldn’t have to be sticking point.

    If the NYP school system were to seek valid methods of accountability, we wouldn’t have to worry too much about a few teachers that haven’t been placed. But it takes two sides approaching an issue in an honorable manner to make a deal. Plenty of us in the teaching profession are seeking compromises that make it easier and more efficient to remove ineffective teachers, and raise our professionalism.

    I certainly didn’t expect a public answer, but I’m asking what hard accountability advocates are doing to persuade Klein and his team to seek valid for of accountability?

  5. Anonymous

    I am a NYC 2nd grade teacher who has recently been excessed, after 2 years in a school I love, and a school that wants me. If it were at all possible they would keep me, and get rid of some of the tenured ineffective teachers who do not even want to teach anymore, but they like collecting their paychecks. I put my entire heart and soul into my teaching, I am dedicated, responsible, and go the extra mile. With the budget cuts troughout the entire city, I do not even see how I can possibly find a position, if every school is reducing their budget and excessing their teachers.

    I already did my job search, worked hard to secure a position, interviewed with various schools, and found the perfect match for me. Why should I be held responsible to find another position, especially when there are not enough positions to fill due to budget cuts. I feel some of the decision makers need to come to my class and learn math. It is virtually impossible to successfully place all the excessed teachers if every school is cutting back their budgets.

    It makes me feel sad for NYC students, because ultimately they are the ones who will suffer. Qualified, talented, dedicated teachers will simply look for jobs elsewhere such as Westchester county and NJ. What a shame and stupidity from our city.

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