62TEACH FLUNK SPIRAL
- Aug 11, 2006
Dear folks: I just returned from two weeks abroad. I will try to catch up and post some important articles over the next few days that were published during my absence. Here is one, detailing a rise in 71% rise in unsatisfactory ratings for teachers since 2002-03.
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
TEACH FLUNK SPIRAL
By DAVID ANDREATTA
August 9, 2006 -- The number of city teachers who received failing grades from their principals inched upward last school year - the latest increase in a trend that has emerged since the Bloomberg administration won control of the school system in 2002.
According to the Department of Education, 981 public school teachers received an "unsatisfactory" rating in the 2005-06 school year - an increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year and a whopping 70.6 percent spike since 2002-03.
Notably, tenured teachers have been increasingly making up a larger percentage of unsatisfactory or "u-rated" teachers. Tenured teachers comprised roughly 68 percent of the u-rated instructors last year, compared to nearly 58 percent three years earlier.
That spike troubled the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who suggested a correlation between the jump and a growing number of rookie principals, particularly those trained at the city-run Leadership Academy .
"The anecdotes we hear from the field are that principals from [the academy] do not respect experience," Weingarten said. "The moment a teacher says, 'I know how to teach,' principals from the institute will actually threaten them with a u-rating."
She added that while u-ratings stayed relatively flat last year, there were spikes at schools with new principals.
The recent jump follows a significant change in the city's new UFT contract - eliminating teachers' right to file a grievance seeking that letters of reprimand from their principals be removed from their work records.
Teachers may still appeal their u-ratings - and the union says it has not seen a spike in disciplinary letters - but the change was viewed by many rank-and-file instructors as an ominous sign that principals were being given an unbridled authority to intimidate them.
"Principals have too much power," said Marsiste Adolphe, who has taught health to special-education students at PS 811 in Brooklyn for 10 years and learned this week that he had received his first "u."
He said he believed his rating stemmed from a complaint he lodged about corruption at his school. "They use u-ratings as a retaliatory tool and it's gotten worse," he said.
Education Department spokesman Keith Kalb acknowledged that the increase in u-ratings has coincided with the implementation of Mayor Bloomberg school reforms, but added that the reforms "always focused on accountability at all levels."