Buffalo teachers are in a pitched battle with their school district and state over whether student absenteeism should be factored into their evaluations. Teachers say it’s unreasonable to judge their teaching skills on the performance of students who don’t show up to class. The state disagrees and is threatening to withhold millions of dollars from the district.
The Buffalo News editorial board continuously calls the teachers selfish. But the teachers say this is about fairness and common sense.
Get ready for the same fight in Rochester. It could very well happen, as Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski warned members in an email yesterday:
The Buffalo News article, below, is an omen of things to come. Here in Rochester, unlike in Buffalo, we have agreements for this year that student attendance will be factored in and that no teacher will be adversely affected by APPR (see attached). Nonetheless, we stand in solidarity with Buffalo teachers and may have APPR-related struggles ahead of us, too.
Our negotiated agreements with the RCSD about APPR are for this year only. We are in negotiations for next year and beyond. We are determined that consideration of student absenteeism, and other factors, would have to be part of any eventual tentative agreement. More about all this at next week’s meeting of the RTA Representative Assembly. Adam
As recently as March, Urbanski thought he had a deal with Superintendent Bolgen Vargas to weight student attendance in evaluations. If a student is absent 90 percent of the time, only 10 percent of his performance would count toward the teacher’s evaluation. Urbanski and Vargas were under the impression the state allowed weighted attendance.
But last week, Urbanski said the state informed the district all students must count, whether they show up to class or not. This doesn’t affect Rochester teachers for the current school year, because the union has a hold-harmless clause. Teachers’ evaluations can’t be used against them this year only.
Next year is a different story. Urbanski plans to fight the state. “If they want to have a showdown with Rochester as well, I’m willing to have that fight with them.”
Even if it means the RCSD loses gobs of money.
“I will not agree no matter how much money is at stake,” Urbanski said. “A billion dollars could be at stake.”
There’s a chance the state will relent by next school year.
“They have to blink,” Urbanski said. “Because they are wrong.”