The meeting was an interesting view into how information is disseminated to schools as well as what issues pop up. I overheard several conversations about principals using evaluations to "catch" teachers or _forcing teachers to use lesson plan templates that have no real jurisdiction. I am lucky that I do not have these kinds of issues at my school; but I know if I want to have a better understanding of education in New York City, I need to hear about them. The meeting was interesting and I learned a lot. I can't wait to understand more of the acronyms and get to know my UFT contact.
Tonight I went to a panel discussion on the standardized testing movement in New York City and New York State. There were some interesting panelists, including a current NY State Regent representative (person responsible for a lot of state-level education decisions), a superintendent for District 15, and the national director of the Network for Public Education. The dialog was mostly uninteresting or information I already knew but at the end of the meeting there was some heated questioning of the superintendent Anita Skop regarding opt out policies. Apparently, there is state law (which I need to find a reference) saying teachers are not allowed to use their position of power to influence any children or parents in regards to politics. I've heard the same argument in Philadelphia, causing many teachers to get reprimanded. The audience fired back that this discussion was more akin to asking about homework policy than political views. Unfortunately, this all happened after the time for the meeting had expired, so the fever died down.
These two meetings were my first foray into this system's underbelly. I look forward to learning more and sharing what I learn here.