UFT Delegate Assembly Run Like 3 Card Monte Hustle

    Guest Column by

    Mary Theresa Lynn, Delegate from Newcomers High School

    The January 16 Delegates' Assembly compels me to write to you:

    Who wouldn't agree that the city's current mandatory testing policy is a nightmare? At the January 16 Assembly, The UFT Resolution on Assessment-Related Paperwork and Data Collection seemed like a good idea--until I closely examined the wording of the first WHEREAS (emphasis mine):

    "WHEREAS, the data generated by these tests and assessments can be useful to teachers as a tool to enhance teaching and learning, the collection, collation and interpretation of this data can be time consuming and require specific skills, technology and resources often not available to teachers...."

    Unless we agree that "test-prep" is now synonymous with "learning," which is just what the highlighted section of the resolution implies, we should find this clause in the resolution most disturbing. These tests are not reliable and the data generated by them is not useful to teachers and certainly not conducive to learning. In fact, these tests have had a disastrous effect on both teaching and learning.

    I immediately raised my card to call for a friendly amendment to the resolution to omit the offensive clause. However, Randi seemed determined not to see me. In fact, she deliberately filibustered until my raised arm went numb. When I took my arm down to switch my card to the other hand, one of her minions called the resolution to a vote, even though at least two of us still wanted to voice our opposition and were still waving our cards frantically. A staffer who had seen me with my hand up from the start and had even approached me to politely wait for her to finish her rant stood nearby, but as I yelled, "Point of order," I was drowned out by Randi's, "Let's call the question. All in favor raise your cards" and the amens of others who were eager to move on after her filibuster. I was artfully--but very intentionally--ignored. She dodged my objections and steamrolled on.

    My biggest concern on this one is that we will be "hung by our own words" somewhere down the line. Basically, the wording of the resolution that passed gives credence to the DOE's tests as "tools to enhance teaching and learning." What a public relations fiasco for us if proponents of high-stakes testing get their hands on the UFT's own words! How could the UFT validate these tests when we know the disastrous effect all of this test-prep has on teaching and learning?

    Randi seemed like she was in an awful rush to call this one to question--she even started the meeting on time for a change, no doubt to leave room for Hilary's "surprise" call--which means she was well aware of the wording, and eager for others not to notice it. As a first-year delegate, I was surprised that there was so little vocal opposition to the wording of this resolution. And obviously, I was disappointed that the "Artful Dodger" had, once again, dodged her opponents. Her tactics at these meetings are becoming increasingly deplorable. Sometimes I feel like I'm being hustled in Three Card Monty.

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UFT Delegate Assembly Run Like 3 Card Monte Hustle


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