October 24, 2012
The sharp complaints that UFT President Michael Mulgrew leveled a week ago at the city and state’s Common Core rollout were based on anecdotal reports, according to union officials.
Now the union is hoping to back up Mulgrew’s harsh words with the voices of more than 100,000 educators. Today, every UFT member received a survey by email asking them whether they have received the curriculum materials, professional development, and technology they need to tie their instruction to the new standards.
A message from Mulgrew that accompanied the survey signaled that the union is looking for problems.
“With this online UFT survey, we are gathering vital evidence of the DOE’s lack of instructional support as we demand that the DOE provide you with the tools that you need to teach to the new standards,” he wrote. “We will use this evidence to do our own evaluation of the DOE’s support of our work.”
The state is in the process of developing curriculum materials aligned to the Common Core, a move that few, if any, of the other 45 states that have adopted the new standards are making. In the city, the Department of Education has built some curriculum materials and recruited hundreds of educators to build more in an effort to give teachers a helping hand during the transition.
According to the department, nearly 30,000 people logged on to the “Common Core Library” of instructional materials last month, and the materials for one unit were downloaded more than a thousand times. Plus, a survey of teachers that the department administered last spring found that 80 percent said they had gotten feedback about how to integrate the new standards into their classroom.
But schools and teachers have started the year, the first that will end in Common Core-aligned exams, without a full complement of curriculum materials to drawn on that are tied to the standards. “Millions of students will be tested on a curriculum that was never supplied to their teachers,” Mulgrew told Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform commission last week.
The city says it is doing all it can to help teachers. But moments after Mulgrew spoke to the reform commission, the city official in charge of the Common Core rollout suggested that the city might be exhausting its capacity to give teachers what they need to implement the new standards well.
“We are bound to fall short if we raise the standards without investing in the support that educators need to meet this challenge,” Polakow-Suransky told the commission, according to his written statement.
In addition to asking about the Common Core, today’s survey also asked teachers about the city’s special education reforms, class size, and mentoring — all areas where the union has raised alarm before.
The UFT regularly surveys chapter leaders about policy issues, last year basing a report about the impact of budget cuts on their answers. But surveying all of its members is an unusual move, union officials said today.
The union’s message to members and survey is below:
It is no surprise that after years of incompetence, disrespect and denigrating attacks on our profession, the Department of Education has failed us yet again, this time by failing to provide the tools and instructional supports we need to teach to the new Common Core Learning Standards.
We entered into this profession to help children. The DOE is responsible for helping us help children, but failures such as this make it increasingly clear that the DOE instead stands in our way.
The Common Core Learning Standards are sets of concepts and skills that a child will need to master at each grade level. A curriculum aligned to these standards is what needs to be taught and it is the DOEs responsibility to provide such curriculum. How we teach that curriculum which is articulated in our lesson plans every day is our responsibility.
With this online UFT survey, we are gathering vital evidence of the DOEs lack of instructional support as we demand that the DOE provide you with the tools that you need to teach to the new standards. We will use this evidence to do our own evaluation of the DOEs support of our work.
Begin the survey now »
This survey is strictly confidential. We will not identify you or your school without your express permission.
We will be sending a similar survey to members of our functional chapters by the end of this week. We will use the evidence we gather from these two surveys to do our own evaluation of the DOEs support of our work in schools.
School Name [optional]
School ID number (Ex: K123 or 123) [optional]
Uncertain of your school’s ID number? You can look it up on the DOE website by typing your school’s name in the “School Search” box. The code will appear in parentheses next to your school’s name.
School District *
What grade level do you teach? *
What subject do you teach? *
Are you licensed in special education? *
How many years of service do you have? *
Have you received any formal professional development in how to teach to the Common Core Learning Standards? *
Were you given curriculum aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards? *
Have you been asked by school administrators to write your own curriculum (e.g. units of study, curriculum bundles) aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards? *
In which areas do you NOT have adequate instructional supports to teach to the Common Core Learning Standards? [Check all that apply.] *
Subject-specific materials/equipment such as scientific calculators
Does not apply because my school provides adequate instructional supports
In which areas do you NOT have access to adequate instructional technology to teach to the Common Core Learning Standards? [Check all that apply.] *
Does not apply because my school provides access to adequate instructional technology
How satisfied are you with the support youve received around teaching to the Common Core Learning Standards? *
Is your school able to provide the appropriate programs and mandated services to all English language learners in your class? *
Does not apply ― no ELLs in my school
In your opinion, are most of your students with disabilities receiving the supports and services to help them meet grade-level standards? *
Does not apply ― no students with IEPs in my school
Have you been pressured to change the IEP of one or more of your students for reasons unrelated to the individual students needs (e.g., budget, program availability, staff)? *
Does not apply
In which of the following areas does your school NOT have the adequate services to ensure that your students are ready to learn? [Check all that apply.] *
My school has adequate services in all these areas
In your opinion, are your class sizes so large that it interferes with your ability to reach all students?
Have you been assigned a formal mentor in your school?
This survey is strictly confidential, but we would like to identify a few respondents willing to do interviews with the New York Teacher or the media. Would you be willing to participate in an interview? *