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Mulgrew: Mayor's tenure tone not conducive to evaluation talks

Far from living up to its promise, the city’s tenure reform in fact amounts to a quota system for teacher evaluations, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said today.

Mulgrew was responding to comments made by Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott during Bloomberg’s weekly radio address this morning. They said they expect the number of tenure denials to rise next year.

Mulgrew questioned how they could predict more denials when evaluations for teachers up for tenure next year have not yet happened. He said that Bloomberg’s comments signal that the city has set up a quota system for teacher evaluations rather than using them as a tool to help educators improve.

“If it’s more about setting up a set of numbers for political reasons … then what they’re doing is wrong,” Mulgrew said. “If they’re already predetermining they’re setting this up with quotas, that’s absurd.”

The number of teachers who receive poor ratings could change when an evaluation system mandated under state law goes into effect. That is supposed to happen in September, but first the union and the city must agree on the system’s terms.

Mulgrew said they are nowhere near an agreement, even after reaching a deal for 33 low-performing schools two weeks ago. In fact, he said, he still has not had any discussions with city officials about a systemwide evaluation system.

And he said Bloomberg’s and Walcott’s comments today make him less amenable to entering negotiations.

“I’m not going to work with them if they’re doing it as a gotcha system,” he said.

Asked to comment on Bloomberg’s characterization of tenure as a relic of a very different era, when persecution for political reasons was prevalent, Mulgrew said he thought the mayor was unaware of the realities of working in city schools.

“I find a lot of the mayor’s comments to show a complete lack of understanding about what teachers and schools are about,” he said.

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