After reading a NYSUT press release today applauding NYS Assembly bill A07303 as APPR Reform legislation, I was compelled to write the following letter to NYSUT President Karen Magee and NYSUT VP Catalino Fortino.
Dear Ms. Magee and Ms. Fortino,
I am a parent in the Kingston City School District who has been fighting against Common Core and High Stakes Testing for the past three years. I learned of the problems with testing because two brave teachers, who had permission at the time and didn’t know they might regret it later, shared the Niagara PTA resolution against the excessive testing with our PTO. I have been fighting because of the damage being done to our children, our teachers and our schools – our entire educational system. I support the teachers within our district and our local union and am known in the district and actually around the county as an advocate for both the children and the teachers.
I know that the excessive testing and the use of standardized test scores for rating is not just bad for children but also for teachers. That is why I am totally baffled as to why NYSUT is willing to accept the usage of VAM, which is junk science, as even a portion of the teacher appraisal system.
I have been advocating that we need to get rid of this garbage (usage of VAM as part of APPR) with parents and with our legislators and now I read a press release from NYSUT praising the NYS Assembly for putting forth a bill that just delays the usage of this junk science by a year! Why are you willing to accept this on behalf of the teachers that you represent? You have not only failed at protecting your teachers, you have invalidated the work of parents who have been saying that VAM is unacceptable (because we want the BEST for our children and our teachers).
Your press release also states that bill A7303 takes a ‘significant step toward protecting students by reducing inappropriate state testing.’ I can not find anything in the bill that reduces testing for the children. In fact I do not find any benefits for the children in the bill. Maybe the teachers won’t be stressed out in the 2015-2016 school year by a new system but the bill doesn’t specify exactly what is going to be done next year (will the current APPR system be used? do teachers get to skip a year of rating?) so my guess is that teachers will still be teaching to the test. I also don’t have a whole lot of trust that the test review system will be in place or working effectively by next year but even if it is, using the results of the test for rating is still junk science! Children will still be faced with taking high-stakes tests unless they REFUSE the tests. I was so hoping we could actually deal with the REAL problems NOW and not have to go through another cycle of REFUSALS next year.
Why did you stab the parents in the back with your support of this bill that does not help the children and does not really help the individual teachers either?
Local teachers, I must now apologize to you. The changes in bill A7303 benefit the union but not the children. In fact the changes don’t really benefit you the individual teachers either. You will just get an extra year before you get slammed harder by the junk science of VAM. However if the union is happy with VAM, then so be it. I can’t keep fighting the APPR battle if your union isn’t willing to fight it. I apologize to the teachers who are left hanging in the breeze but take it up with Karen Magee.