On Friday, June 1, members of the UFT gathered outside State Sen. Marty Golden’s office to urge Golden to vote in favor of a bill that they contend would improve the system of teacher evaluations that they say currently cripples many New York teachers.
The bill, nicknamed, “Let us teach, let them learn” — the words repeated on yellow and black signs carried by the protesters — allows for school districts and unions to formulate their own systems of evaluation. Currently, New York State mandates that teacher evaluations be tied to scores on standardized tests.
“We’re asking that teachers be given the opportunity to decide if they want state standardized test scores to be part of their evaluation or if they want growth or some other method to determine their performance,” said LeRoy Barr, co-staff director and assistant secretary of the UFT.
Dozens of teachers and administrators marched, as well as Democratic State Senate candidates Andrew Gounardes and Ross Barkan who are vying to challenge Golden in November. Both candidates spoke out openly against Golden and what they assert is his poor treatment of Brooklyn teachers.
“We should let people who understand public education make decisions about public education, and not people who have no idea about what it’s like to be in a classroom, teaching kids, and what it actually takes to educate the next generation,” Gounardes said. “Senator Golden has consistently been opposed to measures that would strengthen public education.”
“Our students are overtested and our teachers are burdened with the standardized testing systems that unfairly penalizes them,” added Barkan. “We have to fight back against the standardized testing culture.”
The APPR Bill, (S.8301) is currently circulating in the State Senate and is currently sitting in the Rules Committee where it expects to move on to floor debate in the coming weeks.
Golden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Golden’s office is located at 7408 Fifth Avenue.