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On linking test scores to tenure, a teachers union stands divided

Local teachers union president Michael Mulgrew appears to be at odds with his old boss, national union president Randi Weingarten, over the question of whether to link students’ test scores to teacher evaluations.

In a speech delivered last month, Weingarten announced her newfound support for using test scores as a factor in deciding whether or not a teacher gets tenure. Following the speech, Mulgrew sent an email to United Federation of Teachers chapter leaders distancing himself from Weingarten’s position.

“Her proposals would require a climate of collaboration and trust that simply does not exist here,” he wrote.

In the message, Mulgrew wrote that the UFT supports “fair and objective standards” for teacher evaluations. But he argued that the New York State tests are not a reliable measure on which to base evaluations, and that in any case test scores should be only one part of how teachers are judged.

During the year that Weingarten led both the New York City and the national union, she also occasionally exempted New York City from her reform proposals.

Last year, she told Elizabeth that she pushed the New York State legislature to ban linking test scores to tenure decisions because she couldn’t trust the city’s schools chancellor, Joel Klein.

“No one trusted Joel Klein to use that tool judiciously,” she said.

But Weingarten would also extend olive branches to the city, especially via Mayor Bloomberg, whom she always distinguished as more cooperative and understanding than Klein. Mulgrew’s assault so far is equal-opportunity.

During an interview on NY1’s political news show Inside City Hall last night, Mulgrew said the UFT and city couldn’t even manage a “respectful working relationship” right now.

“We’re constantly being accused, we’re constantly being scape goated, and these are things that are inappropriate,” he said.