Thursday, July 10, 2014

NJ BOE Testimony Part III: Horror Stories from Paterson

Be sure to check out NJEA member testimony at the NJ State Board of Education Parts I and II.

So, you think you have it bad. You think your administrators didn’t fully implement the new evaluation system. You think you could have gotten a higher score in this domain or that. How would you like to be an educator in a state controlled district? Paterson Education Association member, Gennaro Tortoriello, paints a shocking picture of administrators gone wild in his state controlled district. And to think, the state took over Paterson because they deemed it 'failing'. If this is their idea of improvement, everyone at the department of education should resign.


Thank you for your time. I would like to speak about the evaluation system that was very hastily implemented by the state without proper training for both administrators and teachers. As a grievance delegate in the Paterson Education Association, I have witnessed the effects of this unjust system throughout my school district on a daily basis. Here are some examples:
  • Some administrators have been told by their superiors that they are not allowed to give teachers high scores.
  • Some administrators have told teachers that they work in a failing school and failing district therefore there are no effective teachers. In School 13 70% of teachers have been placed on a CAP (Corrective Action Plan).
  • The principal of one school told the staff that 80% of them are incompetent and should not be educators.
  • In many of our schools special education teachers have been directed to not follow the legal mandates of student’s IEPs if they want to earn a proficient observation.
  • One administrator in School 18 has written fraudulent observations and has egregiously violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, state law, and district policy because tenure is “dead”, and “we can do whatever we want to them.”
  • Educators have been told that instruction must be data driven yet many administrators ignore data when conducting evaluations.
  • Educators have been told that lessons must be differentiated yet when instruction is modified teachers are told that their lessons are not rigorous enough.
  • When educators use the whole group instructional method they are sometimes told that they did not differentiate the lesson and did not make accommodations for exceptional students.
  • One administrator in a high school marked staff down for not creating ‘data walls’ where student test scores were to be posted as a way to make them improve. When association officials pointed out that that is a violation of student privacy rights protected by FERPA, the administrator told them to use student ID numbers instead. When the association pointed out that students are not supposed to publish or share their ID numbers, the administrator relented, but refused to reassess staff ratings.
  • The majority of staff rated partially effective or ineffective met their SGO’s. Can somebody explain how this is possible?

These are only some examples. There are many more. This system has created an environment of distrust in which the evaluation system is viewed as discipline and punishment rather than an opportunity for professional growth. As you can see, this system has led to an abuse of power by many administrators. Please repeal this system. (emphasis mine)

Thank you.