United Federation of Teachers (UFT) IN New York State Court Try To Keep Teacher Data Confidential
I suggest that as the staff of the United Federation of Teachers have done nothing to help members placed in classes that are outside their subject area, permitted a clause in the UFT contract in 2005 that denied all members their right to grieve a letter in their file, and have assisted in 99% of all teachers losing their U-rating appeals, the UFT staff is an accomplice in creating and maintaining the false teacher data that they so want to hide. The grade that I give them: F Betsy Combier
The Article 78
Notice of Motion To Intervene
NY1 on Teacher Data
Judge Hears Arguments In Request For Teacher Performance Scores
By: Lindsey Christ, NY 1, December 8, 2010
It's a high stakes case over whether the public has the right to individual performance scores for government employees, namely teachers. The union sued to stop the city from releasing teacher report cards. City attorneys and lawyers representing NY1 and other media organizations, argued for the information to be released.
"Taxpayers have the right to know how their money is spent, how people are performing and how the Department of Education is doing it's job and this information is critical if the public is going to hold school systems and school administrators accountable," said the media organizations' attorney Dave Schulz.
The city has been scoring fourth through eighth grade math and English teachers for two years. Teachers are scored on how much their students improve, or not, on standardized tests. Now State Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern has to decide whether the city is right to release the scores based on the Freedom of Information Law. The union says no.
"In the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court has in parallel cases said you shall not do this kind of thing to people. If it exposes them to shame or embarrassment you should not do it," said Teachers Union Attorney Charles Moerdler.
But the city and the media lawyers disagreed.
"People have privacy rights as citizens, as individuals. But when you are on the government payroll, you lose the right of privacy," Schulz said.
Union lawyers also argued the formula for the reports is imperfect, and in some cases, inaccurate data was used. They say three years ago, the city promised not to release the scores publicly. But the city and media lawyers said that's not a legal argument.
"That's not how the Freedom of Information Law works," Schulz said. "The Freedom of Information Law says that the government information is available for the public, so that the public can make those determinations. If, in fact, the Department of Education is spending millions of dollars to develop an assessment system that is meaningless, flawed or worse, the public should know that."
But law or no law, the union lawyer said it's just wrong.
"You're giving out report cards that are phony," Moerdler said.
The judge didn't give a hint as to when she will issue her decision.
If she does decide to let the city release the reports it will be a very big deal -- not only for the 12,000 teachers whose report scores will go public, but for teachers across the country.
New York would be the first city to release this kind of information publicly, although other cities have been confidentially creating similar reports for their teachers.
Showdown Nears On Release Of NYC Teacher Ratings
by The Associated Press, NEW YORK December 7, 2010, 01:31 pm ET
A dispute over whether to release performance ratings for 12,000 New York City schoolteachers is pitting the public's right to know which teachers are making the grade against teachers' fears that they will be unfairly subjected to ridicule based on student test scores.
A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in a state court after the filed a lawsuit seeking to keep the data confidential. The union called the ratings "unreliable, often incorrect, subjective analyses dressed up as scientific facts."
The teacher ratings controversy follows a scandal in Los Angeles in which a teacher committed suicide after the ratings were released. It comes during a transition period for the nation's largest school system, as publishing executive Cathie Black prepares to take over from outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein.
Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, has not spoken publicly about the teacher ratings since Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced her appointment as schools chancellor on Nov. 9. Klein made the case for releasing the data in an Oct. 24 op-ed piece in the New York Post.
"It's a quantitative way to show what many of us have argued for years — not all teachers are equally effective," Klein said.
"We aren't naive about the impact this release could have on our teachers," Klein added, "which is why we hope that no one misuses the data or views it as an opportunity to scapegoat teachers."
Opponents say such scapegoating is inevitable.
"I fear the humiliation that teachers will face when these scores are released," said Martha Foote, who organized a petition drive against the release of the teacher ratings at Public School 321 in Brooklyn, which her son attends.
The planned release of the teacher ratings comes after The Los Angeles Times published similar data, known as value-added analysis, for 6,000 Los Angeles teachers in August.
The United Teachers of Los Angeles protested the Times' publication of the teacher ratings and has blamed the suicide of fifth-grade teacher Rigoberto Ruelas on being listed as a sub-par teacher.
"Seeing himself outed as an ineffective teacher was the straw that broke the camel's back," said union president A.J. Duffy.
Following the publication of the Los Angeles scores, several news organizations filed Freedom of Information Law requests for similar data for New York City teachers.
The city planned to release the data in October before the union filed its lawsuit.
Value-added analysis is a method for calculating teacher effectiveness based on how the teacher's students perform on standardized tests.
Used by hundreds of districts around the nation, value-added scores are designed to measure whether a particular teacher's students performed better or worse than expected on statewide math and English tests.
The statistical model that New York City uses to calculate value-added scores takes more than 30 factors into account including the students' ethnicity and whether they are poor enough to qualify for free lunch.
"Value-added scores level the playing field by enabling one to compare the effectiveness of teachers who teach different populations of students," city Department of Education official Joanna Cannon said in an affidavit filed with the court.
Cannon said the scores are "specifically designed to take into account factors outside of a teacher's control so that teachers are not rated ineffective simply because they teach lower-performing or disadvantaged students."
But the United Federation of Teachers argued in its lawsuit that the value-added scores cannot account for all the factors that affect student performance on tests, such as whether a teacher is assigned to a more difficult class one year than another year.
The union said value-added scores are intended as confidential data to be used by principals in conjunction with other measures including direct classroom observation and the quality of student work.
The union that represents New York City principals is supporting the teachers union. Council of Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan said the value-added model "has too many bugs in it."
Experts who have studied value-added methodology agree it's difficult to control for all the factors that can influence student performance.
"Is the school counselor good?" said Jeffrey Henig, a professor at Teachers College at Columbia University. "Is the principal good? Is the building condition conducive to learning?"
Jon Cohen, senior vice president and director of the assessment program at The American Institutes for Research, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said test scores could be affected by "whether a friend got beat up in the neighborhood that week."
"The random component is large," he said.
Many New York City parents will no doubt want to see the scores.
"It has some value," said Daniel Monte, who was dropping his first-grader off at Public School 33 in Manhattan. "I don't see how it could be a bad thing — except for the teachers."
But Robert Margolis, who has a sixth-grade son at the Clinton School for Writers and Artists, said he is "not a big believer" in standardized tests.
"They measure something but I'm not sure what," he said.
Los Angeles Unified School District spokesman Robert Alaniz said that after the Times published the scores, the district briefed principals on how to explain them to parents.
Alaniz said the district feared that droves of parents would demand to have their children moved to teachers with higher scores, but that did not happen.
"We're hoping that parents understood that the value-added is not a total tool for all of a teacher's effectiveness," Alaniz said.
I suggest that as the staff of the United Federation of Teachers have done nothing to help members placed in classrooms outside their subject area, permitted a clause in the UFT contract in 2005 that denied all members their right to grieve a letter in their file, and have assisted in 99% of all teachers losing their U-rating appeals, the UFT staff is an accomplica in creating and maintaining the false teacher data that they so want to hide.
The grade that I give them: F