On the 2013-2014 NYS APPR Evaluations and Why They Violated Women’s Rights

women

I sat down today to refute my APPR score that will come out at the end of the summer. I am challenging all parts of the score based on the fact that I was out on maternity leave and, at the time I left, no one could tell me what my score would look like.

You read that right.

No one accounted for a teacher in her 30’s, in one of the most pink collar jobs in our country, to have a baby.

At the beginning of the school year, I was concerned that my leave would impact my APPR score on the local and state level. I was concerned because being labeled an “ineffective” teacher sets off a chain reaction that causes my administration and myself to prove that I can handle my classroom. If I wasn’t there, I wanted to make sure that my score was adjusted for the time I was out. I am confident I am good at my job, that I am a highly effective teacher. I also have the evidence to back me up. BUT… these evaluation systems were rolled out without any concrete parameters.

You would think that being pregnant would be a reasonable scenario to consider.

First I went to my building supervisors and they didn’t know (because in all fairness they hadn’t been told). So, in order to be informed and to advocate for myself, I took every available opportunity to ask my question to people directly connected to the APPR evaluation system.

Here’s what I did:

In late October, my Union offered a seminar on their APPR scores. I went 6 months pregnant, swollen, uncomfortable and throwing up in the parking lot, because I figured this would be the best way to get an answer about how I was to be evaluated.

After sitting through the presentation and seeing that no medical conditions were accounted for in the new scoring, I got up and was second in line to ask a question to the APPR panel.

These were my exact words:

“How am I to be evaluated by New York State based on the fact that I am obviously going to be on leave? (Motioning to my stomach) I ask not just for me, but any teacher out on leave, because maybe, they are having nervous breakdowns because of this stuff (laughter) and we can not be promised that there will be a highly qualified, certified teacher or even the same substitute in our classrooms.”

The head of the APPR team and a former State Ed employee who helped write the APPR process answered. She said “Your score will be adjusted for the time that you were out of your classroom.” I asked her ” How many days to a person have to be out of their classroom for their time to be adjusted?” She said she didn’t know but to email her and she promised to get back to me.

In early November I emailed her and her whole team three times. I got no answer. You would think that someone who helped write the APPR process at the state level, who I called out in front of three hundred people, would get back to me.

But she didn’t. And then she left the job.

Women aren’t new to schools. Teaching is currently a woman dominated profession. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2007–08 (the most current data they had) , some 76 percent of public school teachers were female, 44% were under age 40.

44% were under the age of 40. That’s a lot of childbearing aged women to ignore.

If someone told me in writing that they didn’t know what to do with a pregnant woman is a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protects your right to work during pregnancy at the federal level and the Prohibition against Pregnancy Discrimination New York State laws. No wonder the APPR team wouldn’t send me an email.

Or she just didn’t know, and it was easier to leave.

This type of scenario is what makes me question the entire APPR Evaluation system.

In December I went on maternity leave and New York State still hadn’t gotten its’ act together.

In fact, they didn’t even approve the APPR Evaluation process until a week after I was gone.

My questions are these: Why did our teachers, principals and unions agree to this APPR process if they state hadn’t figured out basic medical scenarios that would impact teachers? Who benefits from labeling teachers with medical conditions ineffective?

Do I benefit?

Do my students?

To women who are thinking about getting pregnant. I encourage you to think about this as your state rolls out the APPR formats. Know your rights and protect yourself.

Copyright: ©Kelly LaLonde, and urbanesl, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content