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Two takes on the BTF vote: Rumore and a building union rep

Teachers in Buffalo schools are voting today on a teacher evaluation plan for this year, for the six grant-funded low-achieving schools, that would incorporate different schoolwide student growth targets, based on the severity of student absenteeism in the building.

A teacher in one of the directly affected schools -- a persistently lowest achieving school -- forwarded me two emails about the vote.

One is from Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore. The other is from that school's BTF rep.

First, the email from Rumore. (The only editing I did involved putting the questions in bold, to make this is easier to read.)

MEMO TO: All Teachers

FROM: Philip Rumore, President, BTF

RE: MOU Q&A

 In response to questions relating to the SIG APPR MOU on which you have been asked to vote:

Q. - Is the MOU only for the six SIG schools and only for this year?

A.  - Yes. In addition, the District has agreed that the current absenteeism language in the APPR that although held in abeyance for this year, will apply in all schools starting in the 2012-2013 school year and that it cannot be changed unless done so in writing by agreement of the BTF (teachers in the schools).

Q. - Is student absenteeism factored into a teachers evaluation for the six schools that the agreement applies to?

A.     - Yes. The number of points needed to obtain a score for Highly Effective, Effective, Developing or Ineffective is offset based upon student absenteeism

Q. - Is there any other factor that offsets student absenteeism?

A.     - Yes. The District has agreed that student absenteeism will not be a factor in 60-80% of a teacher’s evaluation. “In no circumstance shall an evaluator factor student attendance into any portion of the 60%/80% subcomponent of the composite effectiveness score; for example, an administrator can not factor in student participation in grades on teacher developed tests, etc.”

Q. - The Commissioner had said that he would not approve an MOU with student absenteeism as a factor. Will this MOU get approved?

A. - We will soon see. If he rejects it, we will be taking legal action against him and the Department of Education.

Q. - Since the District has made a serious attempt to address absenteeism, if the MOU is rejected will we lose the support of some of those that now support us?

A. - Probably; however; your decision should be based upon whether you think the MOU for the six schools for this year only, is fair.

Q. - Have you signed the MOU?

A. - Yes, but our agreement is subject to the approval of the Council of Delegates on Tuesday, March 27.

Q. - Why did your sign it?

A. - I thought that it deserved your consideration and the Commissioner wouldn’t even at the grant look at it without my signature.

Q. - Did you have to send it out?

A. - Yes. I feel that it is my responsibility to forward any such documents to you. You have a right to see them.

Q. - What are we voting on?

A. - You are voting on whether you support having the MOU in place for the 2011-2012 school year.

Q. - What is your recommendation?

A. - The District has made a serious attempt to address our student absenteeism concerns and the MOU is for this year only. I wouldn’t have sent it to you if I didn’t think it deserved your consideration. However, the decision is yours.

I hope this answers most of the questions that have come to us.

Thank you as always for your solidarity and support.

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And here is the email from the BTF rep in that PLA school. (The only editing I did involved inserting paragraph breaks, to make this easier to read.)

EVEN THOUGH THE MEDIA MADE IT SOUND LIKE A DONE DEAL, THE TEACHERS STILL HAVE TO APPROVE THE MOU NEGOTIATED BETWEEN THE DISTRICT AND THE BTF.

BALLOTS WILL BE IN THE LIBRARY NEXT TO THE PHONE, ON THE BACK OFFICE BOOK SHELF.

PLEASE TAKE TIME TO VOTE! I WILL TAKE YOUR VOTES TO THE BTF DELEGATES MEETING 3/27.

I will try to simplify a complicated matter.

-The MOU is for this year only and only for the PLA schools so we can receive the SIG monies.

-The MOU states that the APPR with the attendance language (only 80% or better attending your classes will be counted toward your passing rate for the APPR) will stay for the 2012-2013 school year for all. 

-This year the PLA schools will have school wide evaluations (based on the chart given on the BTF web site, your home e-mail address and/or the  copies are in the library and on the BTF bulletin board) one for Elementary and one for Secondary. The Secondary evaluation will get a highly qualified mark with a 3% or more passing rate in the Core subject areas. (That's as simple as I could get it. Lots of questions still unanswered or unanswerable.)

-There are 2 sides to this issue.

VOTE NO:

-We haven't had a new contract for 13 yrs.

-The State may still not agree to this MOU

-We're tired of being bullied and of being the scapegoats of why the PLA schools are failing.

-We don't clearly understand how this MOU will be implemented.

-The public is on our side for once.

Vote YES:

-We don't want our colleagues to lose their jobs.

-If we say yes and the State still says no they will look like the bad guys.

-The public will still be on our side.

IN EITHER CASE IT IS NOT THE TEACHERS WITHHOLDING FUNDS, IT IS THE STATE. THE TEACHERS DON'T HAVE THE MONEY, THE STATE DOES. THE STATE HAS NEVER BEEN CLEAR ON WHAT THEY WANT OR NEED TO GRANT US THE SIG FUNDS. THE DISTRICT AND THE UNION HAVE WORKED MANY HOURS TOGETHER TO GIVE THE STATE WHAT WE THINK THEY WANT. IT HAS NOT BEEN GOOD ENOUGH TO DATE. THE STATE IS DEPRIVING THE STUDENTS IN THE CITY OF BUFFALO NOT THE TEACHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Mary Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/SchoolZoneBlog    mpasciak@buffnews.com

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Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | djgee@buffnews.com


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | tlankes@buffnews.com


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | stan@buffnews.com


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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