Comments on Today’s Herald Article Re:MDCPS Teacher Evaluations, “Bonuses” and a Reprint from my Letter to the Editor Aug 2012 of the Same


I wrote this comment on today’s Miami Herald Article RE: Teacher Evaluations under the new IPEGS II that Karen Aronowitz negotiated and committed to contract BEFORE parent union FEA’s lawsuit overturned SB 736.

Karen foolishly set into stone unnecessary and unscientific VOODOO teacher evaluations in return for political chips or personal gain:

“Does anyone else see the BS in this statement? ““We wanted our teachers to really rank at the top of the state,” Aronowitz said.

They either are or they are not…negotiations at a bargaining table over a formula shown to be full of BS doesn’t make a teacher “highly effective” or “needs improvement.”

A common sense evaluation tool involving peer teacher review, competent school-site administrator observation, parental input, and longitudinal data on THAT teacher’s students (5-10 years later?).

Instead, Karen Aronowitz was foolish enough to write SB 736 (legally shakey and ultimately overturned by her parent union, FEA) into our contract BEFORE the legal challenges had their chance to weigh out in court.

Verdict – she was wrong, but the judge says, regarding the legal defeat of SB 736 “This decision does not mean that teachers’ 2011-12 performance evaluations are invalid under the bargained evaluation systems already approved by the DOE for Race to the Top purposes” – Judge Van Laningham ( )”.

In other words, Karen Aronowitz put into contract the ridiculous language and formula that the entire nation’s educational researchers are saying is bunk.

And MDCPS teachers are held to an evaluation system where excellence or incompetence cannot be observed by the parents, the peer teachers, and local administrators (principals), but is determined at a bargaining table during the period her hand picked successor was up for election.


Regarding the Wednesday, August 22 2012 ruling by Administrative Law Judge John Van Laningham of Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings

Unfortunately, teachers’ unions like the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) in Miami, FL have already undermined the value of the judges decision by unwisely signing on to RTTT applications that paralleled and even EXCEEDED the legislation like SB736 in Florida.  So while the courts have declared the invalidity of the legislation, they will still require teachers to be evaluated by instruments in many instances MORE stringent than the legislation as a consequence of their lack of leadership, aggressiveness, and/or strength in opposing such travesties:  “This decision does not mean that teachers’ 2011-12 performance evaluations are invalid under the bargained evaluation systems already approved by the DOE for Race to the Top purposes” – Judge Van Laningham ( ).

In our case in Miami, UTD pushed an insane change to the teacher evaluation model that essentially gave $350 performance payouts to nearly all teachers (if all get it, is it performance pay?  furthermore, no criteria had been announced ahead of time, so no one knew how to “earn” the “performance pay”). see

The short take on the insanity is that 50% of all teachers and counselors evaluations come from SCHOOL AVERAGE READING GRADES…which means that no one teacher can hope to change the overall result, no one teacher will be evaluated on the merits of his or her actions in their own classroom.  Consider the further insanity of a calculus, chemistry, band, woodshop teacher receiving 50% of his/her evaluation on the basis of school average reading grades (see the paragraph entitled “What Happens If You Don’t Teach an FCAT Subject?” here: ).

UTD defended their actions by blaming the changes to the teacher evaluation model (IPEGS) on the recently invalidated SB736 (see the 2nd paragraph here: and page 2 of the UTD/Miami-Dade jointly presented August 2011 announcement to faculty of the changes to the IPEGs teacher evaluation instrument…before it had even been ratified by union members: ).  see also point G) here:

Please note that UTD’s blame of the changes on the Senate Bill 736 is completely refuted by the judge’s statement “the bargained evaluation systems already approved by the DOE for Race to the Top purposes” and is a VERY important reminder for our bargaining agents and unions:  DO NOT INCORPORATE ELEMENTS INTO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS BASED ON SHAKY LEGISLATION THAT IS BEING CHALLENGED IN COURT!

Our teachers union, UTD, forced the teachers who were alert, aware, and active to the courts against our own local, UTD, which was acting contrary, not only to its own membership for inexplicable complicit actions with the Miami-Dade Public Schools administration, but UTD also acted contrary to its own parent union, the Florida Education Association (FEA), which filed and prevailed in the lawsuit.  See point C in paragraph 9 here:

Though UTD prevailed in the circuit court by having our attempt to block their enactment of RTTT/SB736 insane changes to our teacher evaluation model (Ibid., beightol-plea-in-circuit-court), we won in the court of Florida’s Public Employees Relation Commission (see page 7, right column here: ).

Consequently, UTD reran the Teacher Evaluation (IPEGs) Change ratification.  Activists collected broad exit poll results indicating teachers REJECTED the changes 2:1 CONTRARY to UTD’s announcement of passage.  Informed of activists’ data collection, UTD has refused to release poll by poll results, contrary to what is good for membership and what is required by law. see and

As a result of the disingenuity of UTD and the apparent support of the Miami-Dade School Administrative goals and objectives over their membership and student needs, Miami-Dade teachers are stuck with insane evaluation results from 2011-2012 as a result of UTD’s push/ramrodding of the RTTT federal grant for a few million in federal dollars.

Bottom line:  Had UTD represented its teachers’ and their students’ best interests and had the patience to await the ruling of the court on the lawsuit filed by its own parent organization (FEA), teachers would be able to go back and insist on an evaluation that was based on their actual classroom performance and not some insane, disconnected system now shown by the courts and the expert witnesses to be dangerously flawed.

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  • Julie Anne Rich

    This is affecting me greatly. I am appealing my VAM score from last year and am in battle with the district and state now. I will take any help I can getu2026..