After presenting the resolution, of course Unity played dirty and Mary Vacarro spoke against by intentionally mischaracterizing the resolution and then it was voted against 40%-60%. She said that it was unreasonable to expect remote teachers to not receive evaluations this year. I was given no opportunity to clarify what was obviously being stated — that we were seeking remote teachers to still be evaluated, just not based on an unproven rubric of remote best practices (just evaluate them the same as in-building teachers, for example). I tried speaking but I was cut off and Michael rushed to a vote as soon as she finished her statement.
No matter. I didn’t present the resolution for next month’s agenda with the hopes of implementation — by next month’s DA it would be too late. It was just an opportunity to voice a particular point of view on the floor of the DA. I was able to make the speech below. Furthermore, the fact that the resolution received 40% support after being spoken against by a Unity hack is actually AMAZING. I can’t remember that level of support ever for a resolution that Unity opposed — hopefully that represents a change in the nature of the DA. And the UFT looks ever lamer.
As you just stated in tonight’s report, the NYS evaluation system for teachers was waived in the 2019-20 because when the pandemic struck in March, it was too late in the school year to expect to overhaul the evaluation system, retrain the evaluators, retrain the teachers, just to evaluate teachers for 3 or 4 months based on an emergency teaching modality that would not have any relevance to the classroom once we reach heard immunity. The DOE has no contractual approval to continue with the practice of virtual instruction beyond the limited scope of a pilot program teaching high school AP and foreign language classes. The price of implementing of what will potentially be one of the most significant overhauls to our evaluation rubrics begs the question of who does this stand to benefit? Because it seems those benefitting the most would be educational technology developers, the Gates Foundation, and the forces for educational reform that want to shove their foot ever further into the door for a digital classroom agenda.
At this point, we have 6 school days left in February, it’s almost March, the same timeline as last year, and we’ve already passed the point that it makes sense to change the evaluation system. So why are we going to interrupt the systems that teachers have in place based on shaky research.
The recommendations in the Remote Danielson Framework read like a buffet of shiny new teaching technologies: use padlets and breakout rooms to facilitate discussion, encourage students to use thumbs up or down emojis. The effectiveness of these various technologies and methodologies in practice are unknown. Maybe its best to have students on the video conference simply writing on paper in a spiral bound notebook, we don’t really know.
Educational researchers are quick to point out the severe lack of research on virtual instruction and blended learning. There is a significant amount of empirical research on blended learning in higher education, where systems like blackboard have been in use, but in K-12 education, prior to the pandemic, there was no such observable phonemena, no such research sample upon which to develop a list of best practices. Teachers in Pre-K, in District 75, with ENL students, with varying demographics and grade levels are making it up as they go along, and nobody knows better than they do how to implement a virtual classroom – not our administrators, and not educational bureaucrats who have never done this before.
We therefore reject any evaluation system with an unproven, questionably relevant remote instruction evaluation component.