We have nearly run out of words to describe the activities of the Buffalo Teachers Federation. But for starters we’ll try inconceivable, unbelievable and arrogant.

In its latest effort to look out for the best interest of teachers, the union has voted to take the school district to court in order to enforce an illegal teacher evaluation agreement.

The BTF Executive Committee unanimously approved the resolution to take legal action against the district by June 1. If that isn’t enough, the union will then file additional grievances for “non-adherence” to a side deal the district reached with the union in January.

In a good-for-teachers-bad-for-students agreement, the district promised not to use two years of teacher evaluations as grounds for termination. Only one problem with this pact: It is illegal.

The governor, state education commissioner and state Department of Education officials have vociferously and categorically declared that this side agreement is invalid. It wasn’t submitted to the state as part of the district’s official teacher evaluation process. Probably for good reason, with the parties probably knowing it wouldn’t fly.

Not so shockingly, given its history, the BTF has resorted to legal action rather than do what is best for the district. But that legal action threatens the status of more than $30 million in state aid this year, along with more than $10 million in various other government funding this year and tens of millions in future years.

Somehow this doesn’t seem to be in the best interests of students. Yet, according to BTF President Philip Rumore, “We’re going to fight to make sure that they don’t use our kids as pawns in order for us to get this money.” Really?

As laughable as that statement is, the teachers are considering taking a bad situation and making it worse.

As reported, the BTF may actually consider rescinding its approval of teacher evaluations for the last two school years.


Superintendent Pamela C. Brown, who never should have been a party to the side deal that altered the effectiveness of the teacher evaluation agreement, now at least agrees that the side deal is dead.

The worst part of it all is that the very students who were supposed to benefit from a teacher evaluation agreement will be made to suffer when tens of millions in funding is lost.

The goal of teacher evaluations has always been to identify those professionals who need help, and then deliver that help. Instead, the teachers are fighting to retain an ugly status quo. The district’s discouraging number of low-performing schools may end up staying that way because adults can’t come to an agreement that is in the best interest of children.