Saturday, January 30, 2016

NYSUT Asks Teachers to Fire Themselves

Is self-immolation back in style?

Rather than urging members to reject high-stakes tests, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) is pining for teachers to create the tests, even though the state fully controls how the results will be used. After all, Governor Andrew Cuomo's latest teacher evaluation law (APPR) gives Albany—not local school boards—the last word on how well students must perform for teachers to be rated "effective" and not subject to harassment and dismissal. Even if they were as flawless as diamonds, nothing is stopping the state from using the tests to saw into schools everywhere, as bogus benchmarks and HEDI bands will soon hum the tune of "failing" schools.

NYSUT's call for teachers to write high-stakes tests instead of shred them is an assault on reason. Though at last year's Representative Assembly (RA) the Union unanimously passed a resolution that members' children not take the tests, NYSUT has since done zero to spread this message. It seems a resolution passed by thousands of teachers to protect their own children doesn't deserve a billboard or a commercial during the NFL playoffs, for example. 

The Union did, however, spend $2.4 million on a commercial that had nothing to do with junk science and everything to do with fiction. According to the 30-second ad (which yes, aired during the NFL playoffs), "progress" has been made to protect schools—even though Cuomo's ludicrous law remains unchanged. And NYSUT has no plans to challenge this law anytime soon, as it is conspicuously absent from both the ad and the Union's 2016 legislative agenda.  

Perhaps NYSUT finds great dignity in teachers hastening their own demise, akin to Kamikaze pilots or Buddhist monks. Yet if NYSUT is ready to sacrifice members on the altar of privatization, its tool of choice should be a resolution meant to save schools and not shut them.

For given this choice, most teachers would rather go down shielding children from abusive tests instead of embracing new and equally abusive ones.


  1. Here in Buffalo a simple resolution against Receivership has been met with fierce opposition from the local palace guard loyal to all things NYSUT including I Imagine the old flaming monk act. It's time for revolution.

  2. And those who defended it, some passionately, or questioned the use of valuable time yet again (the resultion passed Sept 2015) were chastised for being divisive.

    I find it strange because we are all defending public education & our union.

    I'm with Crowley, it's time for people to get involved: organize, educate & agigtate.

  3. Using that picture is in really bad taste. A priest burning himself alive should not be treated as a meme.

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  5. As a defender of the resolution proposed to our local, I am quite alright with being labeled divisive. Some of us have been trying to support our colleagues in receivership since last June. We've taken some heat from a number of places, including our fellow union members. I will never apologize for trying to educate and activate our membership about receivership, APPR, testing, etc., that are threatening our students, colleagues, and public schools.

  6. DMC It's am historical reference and it's dead on. I think the gravity of the situation trumps the power of anyone's offended sensibilities. As we say here in Buffalo, Get over it.

  7. Kristen and John- You know what's really funny is none of the insiders who battled tooth and nail to keep that resolution from going forward will even know we've talked about it as their kind aren't really into reading ed blogs and associating with others of an activist stripe. Wait is that funny or tragic?

  8. Kristen, John, Sean... Out of curiosity what was the argument against a receivership resolution? Obviously it was nonsense but I am curious as to what points they tried to make.

    I am always amused that only the union elites are allowed to use the "divisive" claim. Somehow it isn't divisive to endorse WalMart board members, run PR for Cuomo, and collaborate on our demise, but god forbid you disagree with them on anything or challenge their positions on anything you are labeled "divisive". Funny how that works. That and loyalty oaths are what pass for democracy in UFT/NYSUT/AFT.

  9. That's a weird and very scaring step. What's the motivation? I see no sense in it! I see sense even in applying to top essay writing services in UK and paying for essay writing!! But this is really awful! Such groups are really dangerous as they can involve not only teachers but students too!