By Mark Anderson
The American people have rightly lost confidence in their elected leaders; ideology appears to trump fundamental necessities of governance.
Here in NYC, I have similarly lost confidence in both Mayor Bloomberg and UFT President Michael Mulgrew to represent my interests, nor those of my students.
A lot of money is currently in jeopardy due to the standoff between the UFT and the Mayor over teacher evaluations. As with recent skirmishing in our nation’s capitol in the face of the “fiscal cliff,” it bears questioning as to how such matters of consequence could be allowed to come down to the wire due to grandstanding and partisanship.
The Mayor’s attitude on a recent radio broadcast was cavalier:
“If we can’t come to an agreement, it’s going to be very painful,” Bloomberg told host John Gambling on his weekly Friday radio show. “But the city’s certainly not going to sign on to any agreement that isn’t a real evaluation agreement, and one that can be monitored by the public.”
What is a “real evaluation agreement,” according to Bloomberg? Apparently only one that releases a teacher’s ratings to the public.
Mayor Bloomberg seems more concerned with ostracizing teachers than with creating a system of evaluation that will promote growth oriented professional learning environments and student achievement.
On the other side, we have UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who penned an incensed letter to the Mayor:
The Department of Education’s demonstrated inability to manage the school system correctly has led us to have serious concerns about getting anything constructive done with you.
Who can blame Mulgrew for having “serious concerns” about getting anything accomplished with a Mayor who compares his union to the NRA? But Mulgrew’s righteous beginning is subverted by what follows:
Two and half years ago the state decided to change this year’s standardized tests to the Common Core standards and since then you have done nothing to create a curriculum based on the Common Core. You have now left teachers in a horrendous situation where they are scrambling to try to get material appropriate for these new tests to teach their children.
I don’t know about other teachers, but I shudder to think of what kind of curriculum the NYC DOE would “create.” That’s the last thing I want to see happen, when the opportunity is here for curriculum to be developed from the ground up by classroom teachers.
How should teachers be viewed? Are we professionals, scholars, and experts of our content areas and capable of growth through reflection and collegial feedback? Or are we mere public employees, clamoring for our administration to tell us how and what we are to teach?
I’d prefer to be viewed as a professional educator that is part of a vibrant, dedicated community of professional learners and scholars. Unfortunately, that perspective is not something that seems to be shared by either of the elected officials that would purport to represent me.
They seem more interested in winning out against their political opponents. It’s the rest of us who will lose.
Mark Anderson is a 7th and 8th grade Special Education teacher in the Bronx.