On Miami-Dade County Public Schools and United Teachers of Dade Rush Contract Change Ratification Vote, Merit Pay, and Overtesting

shortlink http://shawnbeightol.com/blog/?p=164

Most teachers do not realize the video presentation of the IPEGS changes is subject to their approval on Monday’s vote.

Most teachers do not know that there is a vote on Monday.

Of highest importance is the fact that the contract changes and the expressed implementation (http://ipegs.dadeschools.net/pdfs/IPEGS_Update.pdf)are quite distant in detail – which means the details will be determined by Memo Of Understanding outside the ratification process for unit members!  We surrender democratic power that unionism is all about – see point F below

I think it needs to be voted down for a couple reasons that are right at the surface:

A) The manner in which they did this – the leadership collaborated with administration to produce what is a significant overhaul of the evaluation and compensation aspect of our agreement that we “voted” on 3 years ago (or whenever it last was) – yet NO communication went out to solicit bargaining unit input (no workshops, no “town hall” meetings, no solicitations for input).  It was sprung on us by the video presentation at the opening of school faculty meeting when we are already crushed with busy work and urgent last minute preparations for the new school year.  Yesterday’s late and “spotty” notification does not leave us adequate time to research the impact and possible alternatives.  We are being RAILROADED.  Some think because the $25,000 bonuses will allow Karen, Artie, and Fed to increase their salaries by the same since their salaries are tied to the highest paid teachers and all available supplements and bonuses (more below).

I’m calling it the “Hush and Rush” – it parallels the nearly secret ratification vote of June 2011 health care and salary agreement [UTD agreed to an earlier change in contract language (late May 2011), phone called Stewards on/around June 1 & 2 for a non-publicized ratification vote that apparently only select dues paying members were told of and announced it as ratified (http://pdfs.dadeschools.net/Bdarch/2011/Bd061511/agenda/D22.PDF)].

B) Current lobbying efforts of insiders while lack of provision for timely information and a forum to discuss and input suggest UTD is attempting to fast track the decision past bargaining unit members.  This is a violation of state rules on bargaining agreement (changes) ratification procedures:
1) No timely, sufficient notice (see 60CC-4.002 (1.a-d) Ratification by Members of Bargaining Unit – https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=RATIFICATION%20OF%20COLLECTIVE%20BARGAINING%20AGREEMENTS&ID=60CC-4.002 )
2) No time or forum to analyze discuss with our colleagues the impact of such (ibid.)
3) No timely publishing of the full text of the agreement has been announced by UTD (Ibid., 2.(d)).
4) “Electronic Voting” will be utilized, which violates the spirit of the provision at 3. that votes should be “publicly counted.” (a violation of which UTD is already being investigated/sued over: http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=in%20fdco%2020100422e02.xml) – see the last point of this email for discussion of this

C) Parallel instances of UTD pushing “reform” efforts on membership and the associated pay supplements/bonuses along with the determination of the UTD officers’ pay based on these supplements/bonuses and their continued pension calculations (top 5 years of salary) produces a conflict of interest: “Four by four,” “Zone Schools,” and now this “Race to the Top/IPEGS $25,000 bonus” have all provided for bonuses which the UTD officers can then add to their salary calculations.

D) It exchanges emphasis from “observation” in evaluation process to data collection (and analysis), transfers locus of professional activity to downtown, to the vendors who are paid to do the analysis (see contract changes “observation” struck and replaced by “the performance data collection” http://www.utd.org/file_download/451/RTTTContractRatificationVote8-22-11.pdf)

It is hard to imagine a teachers union supporting any effort that reduces their teacher autonomy or distances the locus of the evaluation process.  At least where the evaluation is local, recourse is local.  The further it is removed, the more difficult it becomes to appeal and the higher the chance of error.

E) It secures jobs downtown and/or for vendors (data analysis and associated testing costs).  How much money goes downtown? ($14 Million to teachers in form of merit pay, $36 million will subsidize growth and job retention of bureaucracy necessitated by shift of professional responsibilities away from teachers and school administrators to downtown – see Miami Herald, Wednesday, 08.25.10)

F) The contract language changes are mostly strikeouts.  Little details of evaluation system are written into contract to replace the IPEGS (remember how detailed the IPEGS contract language was that replaced PACES?).  There is no clear connection between actual contract changes and the content of the video or RTTT grant/reform movement, which leaves details up to the district and UTD to hammer out and agree upon in MOU/LOU -  which are not open to member debate or vote.

G) UTD seems to place blame and urgency on the passage of Senate Bill 736, casting the changes as a response to SB 736, but really seems to be more likely the voluntary effort to participate in RTTT – even the document is called RTTTContract, clearly NOT SB 736.  In fact, there is a clear distinction between SB 736 and Race to the Top, a distinction that for some reason UTD wishes to muddle:
There are significant differences between Race to the Top and SB 736/HB 7019:
• Participation in the Race to the Top grant does not require that teachers relinquish due process in employment decisions.
• Race to the Top does not require teachers to give up their professional service contract in order to be part of a performance pay schedule.

H) Seems to be submitting us prematurely to restrictions and negative aspects (from the perspective of the teacher as professional) of SB 736 and RTTT – Teacher evaluation changes do not need to be submitted until Dec 2012, tenure changes by 2014? – see text of SB 736

I) Practical effect of UTD/District’s method of assessing student performance for non-tested students is not equitable or “fair” – some teachers will be assessed directly by their own students and have the possibility of using their instructional time focused on the outcomes they anticipate will be measured.  Other teachers will not have this freedom (ethically, if they are attempting to fulfill the course demands that they are assigned).  As has been written by another critic, this system that bases 50% of most middle and secondary school teachers’ evaluations on averaged values of students performance gains on measures OUTSIDE of their control amounts to COMMUNISM of sorts.

Consider what this math teacher says in her letter to the Commissioner of Education:  “I teach Pre-Calculus, Analysis of Functions and Advanced Topics, none of which are assessed by statewide assessments.  Therefore, 50% of my annual evaluation will be based on the reading proficiency of my school.  Please explain to me why the Department of Education of the State of Florida finds it appropriate to evaluate a high school mathematics teacher based on reading proficiency.”

J) Furthermore, not only is the evaluation method within a school inequitable, but because it compares student performance to state average T-scores, it seems to pretty much condemn teachers at historically low performing schools to being perpetually scored low, removed from hopes of the bonus/merit pay, and streamlined for disciplinary termination (imagine if UTD or District wants to eliminate, say, a “troublemaker ; ) , all they need to do is transfer him to a low performing school and find him deficient 3(?) times…

K) One teacher has expressed grave concerns over the meaning of establishing student grades and performance on T-scores which normalize the mean score to 50 so that even if the state average is 20 (low) or 60 (high), teachers at low performing schools seem to be doomed to NEVER showing learning.  Beyond that, how would the average citizen (parent, student) understand that if the mean were 20 and they show a T-Score of 70, they really did not learn sufficient to be competitive for college or work. See for the letter from the governor to the superintendents describing this: http://shawnbeightol.com/memoEOC.pdf

L) The EVote is under investigation for being manipulated during the February 2010 United Teachers of Dade (UTD) Officers Election (http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=in%20fdco%2020100422e02.xml - the case was dismissed over an issue of jurisdiction, totally avoiding the problem of accountability, lack of transparency, & reports of fraud ).

The multi-university/academic NSF funded think tank ACCURATE has this to say on electronic voting (this opinions was solicited by the department of labor to render a decision regarding the usage of E-Voting by Unions).  This is their conclusion:

“In summary, electronic voting is an extremely difficult computer-facilitated activity to assure with confidence. ACCURATE recommends that voter-verified paper records (VVPRs) be required for voting systems involved with critical elections. Further, VVPRs are not meaningful themselves without robust audit processes that serve as a check on the voting system, ensuring that the reported election outcome is correct. We strongly urge the Department of Labor to refrain from issuing guidelines that permit internet voting, as in many respects there are no effective methods for ensuring security, integrity and reliability of such systems.” – http://accurate-voting.org/docs/comments/accurate-olms-comment-mar2011.pdf

Though some of my points may be incomplete or lack thorough understanding, this rebuttal to my letter alone is grounds to delay the ratification until ALL  of us affected may have a chance to discuss, debate, amend and consider without duress.

For these reasons I recommend the proposed changes to the evaluation and compensation language of our collective bargaining agreement be voted down, if not permanently, at least long enough to allow for time for the bargaining unit members to discuss and propose amendments and edits.


Shawn Beightol
“not a sheep”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.