Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Farina's Compliance Clerks and the End of Educational Leadership and Unionism

In an email 12/23/15 to fellow educators I discuss the end of educational leadership and unionism and the triumph of compliance and intimidation:

I am back after 6 months on medical leave. The Compliance Clerks (formerly known and principal and dept. AP) have wasted no time in investigating (formerly known as observation) my classroom- 6 times in the past 5 weeks. All drop-ins. Superintendent was in one, principal in a couple, principal's mentor in another and AP in the rest. 

I suppose I should be grateful they are here to help. But, that's not the case. The new model, hence the term- Compliance Clerk, is just to evaluate; to determine who they can run out. I got this from the principal's mentor last year in a meeting, and it's the only explanation that makes sense. When I said the principal and AP have very little experience and subject matter expertise, nor do they even teach a class, it is obvious they have zero capacity to lead by example. He said that's not what they are here to do. The new model makes them just a kind of Compliance Clerk or Danielson rubric technicians (my interpretation). It's valid, and I respect the mentor's honesty.  But, that's not the impression they give.

Since they are not here to help, I won't waste my time with the illusion of due diligence in the form of feedback meetings, pre-formal observations, etc. Why participate in a fraud? This new model may not have hit your school but it will eventually. It's bad for the administrators too. Imagine being put into a situation where you are pretending to lead but cannot?

And speaking of Illusions; the UFT (teachers union) plays its part too. They have put in place an appeals process and the APPR (Annual Profession Performance Review) complaint form to give the members the feeling like they have recourse for unfair evaluations.   I have been a chapter leader for 9 years and have yet to see an appeal reverse a decision more than once out of dozens of cases, or an APPR complaint have any kind of impact. If I am wrong let the UFT publish its statistics on rating reversals as a result of their appeals process. But, don't hold your breath.

The grievance process is the same illusion. Yes, you can file a grievance, let's say for illegally excessing your newly elected chapter leader (a true case a Murry Bergtraum).  You file a grievance, it goes to Step 1 after a week when you meet with the principal. He/She always upholds their decision. You escalate to Step 2 if the UFT agrees. If they do you wait a month or more for a step 2. They did in this case. During the step 2 the principal brushed off the call in the Step 2 process and you have to reschedule. This was back in November. Still waiting... Maybe by August the step 2 will happen. Then the UFT, if the past is any guide, will reject going to arbitration when they find out they lose at step 2 (which is assuredly the case). The result: Murry Bergtraum High School has no union representation. The first time in over nearly 40 years. 

Score 1 for the Compliance Clerks. Score 1 for the UFT? Since new teachers hired to replace senior teachers run out of the system pay the same dues, the UFT doubles its money as two teachers paying the same amount of dues each at the bottom rate can be hired. 

Do you think it needs to change? There's a UFT election this spring. Tell your colleagues not to throw their ballot in the garbage for a change. The vast majority do. Mulgrew was elected by retirees (why he campaigns in Boca Raton, Fl.). There are good people running against the Mulgrew/Unity old guard. MORE and Solidarity. While I know Francesco Portelos as a courageous fighter,  I am endorsing MORE as I think they have the most democratic form of organization and also have a strong leader in Jia Lee. We need a democratic union for a start. 

Happy Holiday and In Solidarity!

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