Teachers worry, will I make the grade?
By Shant Shahrigian
Some of the teachers approached by volunteers from the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) rushed past the petitioners on Oct. 4, after the ringing of the afternoon dismissal bell.
Others signed the petition but declined to comment to The Press, fearing their actions could compromise their jobs.
But a third group bluntly shared concerns they described as widespread among their colleagues about the new teacher evaluation system, known as Advance, that makes it easier both for teachers to challenge violations and for the city to fire poor-performing educators.
“Everybody’s on edge,” said Gable Bennett, a history teacher at the Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy who signed the petition. “And this evaluation system could make a difference between you actually having a job and you not having a job.”
The UFT and the Department of Education (DOE) earlier this year accepted the new system, which State Education Commissioner John King Jr. created for the city after the two sides failed to reach agreement on forming a system on their own.
Advance gives teachers annual evaluations grading them in the range from ineffective to highly effective with 60 percent of ratings based on in-class observations and student surveys, 20 percent on students’ improvement on state tests or state-approved assessments and 20 percent based on criteria selected on individual schools’ discretion.
While the UFT agreed to the new system, the teacher caucus named MORE is calling for a moratorium, saying Advance overrides teachers’ contracts.
A recent MORE newsletter criticized the Advance evaluation system for allegedly assessing teachers based in part on students’ body language, for requiring unannounced observations of teachers and for opening the way for principals to require specific lesson plans instead of relying on teachers’ discretion.
KeywordsJohn F. Kennedy Campus, JFK, United Federation of Teachers, UFT, new teacher evaluation system, Movement of Rank and File Educators, MORE, Shant Shahrigian