A Call to Action: Tell Chancellor Walcott that teacher morale in NYC is low


photo courtesy of Yasmeen Khan, WNYC 

On Thursday (10/17/13), Chancellor Dennis Walcott, along with David Weiner, NYC Department of Education’s deputy chancellor for Talent, Labor and Innovation, appeared on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the new teacher evaluation plan.

Towards the end of the show (19:20), Brian Lehrer astutely remarked that “after 12 years of Mayor Bloomberg, NYC teachers are demoralized at historic proportions.”  Lehrer pressed Walcott to acknowledge this, but instead the chancellor assured listeners that both he and Bloomberg were appreciative of the work teachers are doing in the classrooms and that educational reforms have benefited NYC public schools.  Walcott continued by saying, “I’m not going to make the generalization that teacher morale is down overall.  You have some (teachers) that are impacted and some who are not impacted.”

Chancellor Walcott – I don’t know a single NYC teacher who hasn’t been impacted by corporate education reform.  I see the exhaustion, frustration and stress on teachers’ faces everyday.  We shake our heads at the ridiculous, time-and-money-wasting mandates that are imposed on us by both the city and the state, and we mourn our lack of  autonomy.  “You can’t make this up” and “This makes no sense ” are uttered throughout our hallways.

One example of Danielson’s 4f (Showing Professionalism) is “the teacher challenges existing practice in order to put students first.” Challenging corporate education reform policies, which do not put students first, is the essence of my blog, and with this post, my intention is to show Chancellor Walcott that teacher morale is indeed low throughout NYC.

NYC teachers – As of today (10/20/13) there are 40 comments on Walcott’s recent appearance on Brian Lehrer’s show.  Below is a copy of what I wrote.  Please add to the comments and let the chancellor know that low teacher morale IS rampant and problematic in NYC.

Chancellor Walcott’s tone remains arrogant and condescending, from joking about teachers calling in during school hours to admonishing educators for “politicizing” the new teacher evaluation plan.

Likewise, the chancellor continues to appear out of touch with the realities of NYC schools. For example, Walcott claimed that schools have choice and that a “wide variety” of measures exist to satisfy the 20% local measurement of student learning (MOSL) component of the new teacher evaluation plan. His implication that this has been a democratic process is a sham, not to mention insulting to teachers and administrators who know better.

In contrast, the ailing middle school teacher from Brooklyn spoke the truth about what’s happening in our schools. Walcott and David Weiner responded to her criticism of a NYC DOE Performance Assessment by claiming that teachers were involved in creating these tests. After administering the 1st grade ELA Performance Assessment, I find this wholly unbelievable. No teacher I know finds them to be of any value.

This is not politicizing the issue, Chancellor Walcott. We object to these performance assessments because, in our professional opinion, they are NOT educationally sound, nor is their administration and scoring a wise use of time and money. We know our students best and would much rather be teaching meaningfully, addressing the individual needs of all of our students.

The chancellor talked at length about improving teacher quality, but who is holding Tweed accountable? I propose he spend time each month teaching singlehandedly in an overcrowded Title I classroom. Better yet, have him administer these assessments.


Thanks, Katie

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