Sunday, December 5, 2010

UFT Failed Policy on School Closings: Ignores School Closings Based on Political and Ideological Grounds

Gotham schools Reports Backroom Dealings Between DOE and UFT on School Closings
Longtime Outcomes: DOE: 90-120+, UFT: 0

This story is so typical - if true, which I believe it is - of how the UFT has dealt with school closings.
It should be pointed out that the DOE has closed over 90 schools with barely a whimper from the UFT. But the announcement last December that they would close 19 schools, just as Mulgrew's first UFT election campaign was getting started forced the UFT to act - bringing out people to the Jan. 26 PEP meeting and filing a law suit - not a law suit based on the premises I will lay out in the following paragraphs that closings are based on ideology and politics, not educational grounds, but on procedural grounds, something the DOE is correcting this year. So the schools were kept open another year and despite the fact that the DOE did everything it could to keep students from going there the UFT made a deal to allow them to insert new schools to further undermine them. This year they are again a target.

UFT Wiki-leaks
So this item in the Gotham piece caused me to take notice:
“I think they’re making a real attempt to avoid what led us to win that suit against them,” said the [UFT] official. “I don’t think it’s any glasnost, there’s no kumbaya here. But they’re making an effort to avoid getting sued.”
So the UFT is leaking that the DOE is afraid of another law suit - over what - procedures that they are following to the T? This leak is for the members who are agitating within their schools and communities - "SHHHH! We may be able to make a deal for you if you are quiet." And desperate schools may just do it. I was at the Dewey rally on Friday and saw some signs (which I may be misinterpreting) that there might be a behind the scene buzz emanating from the union that a deal could be made by the UFT and DOE to save the school - for now. I bet they are telling that to all the schools. Just like they probably told to the staffs of the now closed over 90 schools.

One GEMer said:
That is why I think having Fight Back rallies and Demo's might actually make a difference.  If the DOE sees that a school community is going to fight, they might think twice about closing it or even using the turn-around model.  My understanding is that the Federal government only allows a certain percent of schools to be transformed.  I believe that is 17 out of the 55/60. Interesting that they do not seem to be using the "conversion to charter" model.  It is one of the 4 choices.  Perhaps this is because "charter" school operators do not want to take on such a "hard" job as "fixing" a struggling high school.  Remember Jeffrey Canada's Harlem Children Zone Charter School "fired" a whole 9th grade class instead of having them move on to high school. Have any of the schools on the list been contacted by the UFT to have input into the negotiations?
Note that Randi Weingarten and the AFT have not made a peep against the federal turn around mandates that forces locals to do their bidding. Well, you know, they wouldn't want to be branded by the ed deformers as a union unwilling to go along.

I have been a critic of the UFT/AFT policy on school closings since BloomKlein took over, claiming much of the policy is based on politics and ideology rather than on educational grounds. And on the use of numbers, at times cooked (see Jamaica HS) rather than looking at the real situation within the school. The idea is that the only way to get around seniority and tenure rules is to use these closings or turn around models to dump out the teachers and start new schools with many newbies who cost less and are often more compliant.

By that I mean they can wring more "productivity" out of newbies who won't complain if prep periods or lunch periods go missing or people have to stay in school until 6PM to get their work done. I mean, why pay people per session for extra work if you can get it for free? We hear that charter school teachers work 30% more. That is the ed deform model.

And let's not forget that these teachers get so much lower pay as newbies they can hire more of them.

[As a sidelight - note the latest ed deform attack is on the salary structure itself that is based on number of years and qualifications. Their ideal: all teachers start out with the same base salary no matter how many years and get bonuses each year based on the kids' performance on standardized tests. How about a gym or art or music teacher you ask? Get your kids to run a 4-minute mile, produce a Picasso or write a symphony and you'll be rich.]

The ed deformers have come up with this policy nationally to enforce their ideology, part of which holds that small schools only are the way and that large comprehensive high schools must go. That these large schools are often bastions of strong union support is a factor.

Tweed has used various techiniques to make large schools disappear. Using a geographical method, first in the Bronx, then in Brooklyn and now in Queens, the DOE has created a domino effect by keeping the most at risk kids out of their cherished small schools and forcing crowds of them into the next school down the line. Examples: Far Rockaway/Beach Channel - and next John Adams. Lane/Jefferson/Canarsie/South Shore - next Sheepshead Bay. Lafayette - John Dewey. I don't know the Bronx geography well enough to map it but I hear Lehman HS is a big target now.

But the UFT refuses to act as if this is true. They refuse to try to organize the threatened schools as a united force, giving behind the scenes advice to each school individually. The outcomes have been disaster for the schools.

This comment came in from another GEMer:
Has there been any rank-and-file involvement as our leadership helps decide which schools stay and which get thrown on the trash heap? Note also the new emphasis on the more draconian "turnaround" rather than just "transformation."  Funny that the CSA is publicly protesting that this would be extracontractual, but no peep from the UFT about all their members in a school being forced to reapply for their jobs (and only half being able to be rehired).
Yes, pretty funny that the union for supervisors comes off as being more supportive of their members than the UFT is.

Full Gotham story below the fold

City officials have been holding on-again-off-again meetings with the
teachers union to discuss the fate of the nearly 60 schools that could
be closed or have their principals removed this year.

A source familiar with the meetings said they’ve been going on
throughout the fall and have been spearheaded, on the DOE’s side, by
Deputy Chancellor John White. A union official said part of the reason
for the talks is that the city is eager to avoid another lawsuit like
the one last year that barred the planned closure of 19 schools.

“I think they’re making a real attempt to avoid what led us to win
that suit against them,” said the official. “I don’t think it’s any
glasnost, there’s no kumbaya here. But they’re making an effort to
avoid getting sued.”

City and union officials would not comment on the substance of the
discussions. As early as next week, city officials will begin
announcing which schools they plan to keep open, which will close, and
which will undergo one of several “turnaround” models mandated by the
federal government.

City officials are also trying to iron out an agreement with the
principal’s union that will let them use the turnaround method in some
schools, according to the Council for School Supervisors and
Administrators spokeswoman Chiara Coletti.

One of the four school improvement strategies being offered by the
federal government, the turnaround method, calls for a school’s
principal to be replaced and its teachers and administrators to
reapply for their jobs. Only 50 percent can be rehired.

Coletti said the union’s contract doesn’t allow the city to dismiss
principals and other administrators without a hearing.

“We have a contract that doesn’t allow for the wholesale removal of
administrative staff, so that’s obviously under discussion,” she said.

Earlier this year, the union reached an agreement with the city that
allowed for the principals of several transformation schools to be
replaced while others got a new title of “transformation mentor

“As we’ve said, we are talking to stakeholders about struggling
schools, and getting input from parents, teacher, school leaders and
communities,” said DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld. “We’ll consider
their input, and the data, as we make the best decisions for kids.”

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