Sunday, May 6, 2012

Will NYC Teachers Get to Vote On The New Evaluation System??

Just to make one thing clear: The Teachers' Contract and the law that's called APPR (about new evaluations for teachers & principals) are two things that are way too complicated for me to understand.

In fact, they're both way too complicated for most regular teachers to understand! And since neither the mayor or the union have been clear with the employees (or members) over this, most of us actually don't know: Will teachers get to vote on the new evaluation system whenever it's agreed upon?

I know that we really only get to vote on three things: 1)Leadership, 2)SBOs and 3) new contracts. So I know enough to know that the strict answer is no. We'll never get to vote on the actual teacher evaluation system.

But will the new eval system come along with a new contract? I always thought the answer to that was no.

But then I read that the mayor dropped a real surprise announcement during his budget revision speech last week: He isn't offering back pay to union contracts. When I read this, my first reaction was 'now where did that come from?' I mean, I know it's a budget speech and budgets and payroll are (very much) related, but this guy was forecasting here -he was talking about future fiscal years and even future mayors! That was way off topic for a budget speech. Having followed this mayor in the news for so long, I'm left thinking that he was sending a pretty clear signal to at least one of the unions.

Here are three questions about that comment:
  • Why would he go off topic just to make that claim? 
  • Are future contract resolutions a part of this budget?
  • If not, then why else would he feel it necessary to signal negotiating posture for municipal contracts during a (brief pause) budget revision speech?

If you listen to him carefully enough, the mayor actually has a pretty big mouth. Stay with me here for a second, ok?

Because during that same speech (about the budget) the mayor also made it a point to talk about finalizing  the evaluation agreement for NYC teachers and principals.
"There's no substantive reason why a final agreement should not be reached very quickly," said the mayor. "The longer the U.F.T. waits, however, the longer it will take our schools to get the money they need and that they deserve." 
Again, there is potential money on the line if the issue is resolved. So, on the one hand, it makes sense that he'd address it -as well as anything else having to do with money. BUT from where I'm sitting, it has looked more like the city  has been dragging their feet over finalizing teacher evaluations (don't forget, Chancellow Walcott was in Albany asking lawmakers for it to be scrapped back in late January) and the union (who actually seems very hot for this system -having sent out their big dog, Leo Casey a number of times to defend it) have been the ones wanting to get the issue resolved and put to bed. So this statement from the mayor actually looks more like a change of course in what I had seen the city doing in the past.

And why would the mayor change course? Because he needs that 4% ed increase from Albany, of course!! It looks like this guy is ready to get the eval thing done too.

Still with me? Because here's what I see: I see a statement that reflects a change in negotiating position (over settling the teacher evaluation thing), and I see another (seemingly bizarre) statement that stakes out the city's position on one of the issues of  contract negotiations (for all unions, but for teachers as well).

That makes me suspicious and I'm wondering, Is this evaluation related to a new contract?

Did you know that other districts throghout the state have settled on their contracts recently (after the APPR agreement in Albany)? And, of course, the members got to vote on the new setup for evals as they were voting on their contracts.

Oh yes, they did.

Anyway, I'm starting to think that they may have to let us vote on the new evals as those new evals will alter the contract enough for it to be re-written (and voted on).

Of course, not many people who this law effects will actually know -unless they announce a contract (or an eval deal without one).


  1. DOEnuts:

    I think you are on the wrong track here. The Emperor was signaling to the unions that any contract with him will be a wage freeze like the State and no retroactive raises. It has nothing to do with teacher evaluations.

  2. Hey Chaz,
    Well one thing is for sure, he sure was signaling something., right? His bio describes a guy who's a bully -no doubt there- but he's bully with a point. Was his point to deter unions from negotiating with him right up until the end? hmm..It's possible, but I don't think so.
    Far from just trying to slap municipal workers in the face in some random way, I think he had, what he usually has, a bullet list of things to say in his head when he made that speech. If making that point was on his bullet list, then certainly contracts for this budget cycle was also on his bullet list -not cycles after his time is up. No I think he's thinking about settling (and remember, we're usually first up in the settlement round and (I think) our contract is the most expensive).

    If you don't see it that way, just think of this: He needs this APPR deal by December, otherwise he loses 4% from SED. Other districts across the state are settling contracts now (May is an important Ed month outside of NYC). Does it just happen to be contract time in all of these areas?

    About the second part of your comment: 'any contract with him will be a wage freeze like the State and no retroactive raises.' I think you're right. I think he doesn't want to pay the money he owes us (I wouldn't be surprised if our union asked him to say it just so they didn't have to take the heat when they came back to us with "0-0" for the first two years).

    But my point was that I think he's only making this assertion because he knows he has to settle the teachers' contract.

    Last thought; I am so not voting for anything they agree on -based only on the general principles: If they agree on anything, it's probably bad for teachers.