January 27, 2009

Obama highs, DOE lows

AVoiceIn just alerted me to this tidbit by Yoav Gonen in Saturday's NY Post, which I hadn’t seen.
Administrators at a Bronx elementary school interrogated a class of 7-year-olds individually about their teacher - and then threatened to suspend those who told their folks, several fuming parents told The Post.

Education officials confirmed yesterday that they were investigating claims that as many as 20 second-graders at PS 70 in Mount Eden were pressured by Principal Kerry Castellano and other administrators to compose written statements about teacher Jonathan Alejandro's disciplinary methods.

Parents said they hit the roof when they heard about it. Students were promised McDonald's and other goodies for keeping mum, parents said.

"It's appalling! I'm raising my daughter not to hide things from me, and they're telling her to lie," said Rosa Caceres, who described her daughter, Loreal Luna, as an "emotional wreck" ever since last month's incident.

Angely Miliano said her 8-year-old son, Michael Mateo, was equally torn.

"My son was crying hysterically because he thought he was going to get in trouble with me," she said.

Administrators denied to parents that they had instructed the kids to keep quiet, but Miliano said she asked her son three times whether it was true.

"He said, 'Yes, they told me not to tell you nothing,' " she recalled.

Alejandro declined comment. Castellano did not respond to an e-mail and a phone call seeking comment.

Looking past the hype (it’s the Post, after all), we have a big problem here in this city. It’s the culture of insinuation, interrogation, and criminality that bedevils our profession and poisons our schools.

Each day since the inauguration, one columnist after another has tried to put into words how good it feels to breathe again, knowing that someone is finally at the helm of this great ship of state who can think, listen, evaluate, contextualize, and act appropriately to fight for the things Americans hold dear.

And then something like this story comes along, and we're reminded that if you're in any way connected to the school system here in New York City, your life is pretty much determined by the questionable vision of a single man, Joel Klein, and the enterprise he’s created at Tweed.

I suspect Obama’s going to make some decisions we won’t all like, but we’re happy to let him take the helm of this great ship of a country and do his best. That’s because his best mostly resembles the best in ourselves.

Not so with Joel Klein.

With him and educrats like him running inner city schools across the country, a lot of people will continue living under a pall, much like the one George Bush and his immoral oligarchy fashioned for us. It won't be made out of transparent cloth like Klein tries to tell us, and it won't be comforting. It will feel heavy, ominous and stifling, to teachers and to parents.

The sad part is that the more our new president gleams at the national level, the more we’ll see this chancellor and others who emulate him for what they are, fundamentally the wrong kinds of people to make decisions for our profession or for the kids we teach.


  1. I think it's great if people finally see these demagogues for what they are, and it's good that even the Post will tell people about it now and then. Klein, Bloomberg, Michelle Rhee and all their crowd belong to the failed culture of the Bush administration. The sooner America wakes up to that fact, the better off we'll all be.

  2. You post this without knowing or understanding all the facts I am UFT and I work there, this alejandro character is a liar he falsey accused two of his own uft members of improperly interrogating students one of which has never even spoken to his kids! You jumped on the bandwagon a little early...this is the problem with how the union and city operate administration is always assumed to have bad intentions and teachers are always victems...what about his kids who are recieving the corporal punishment? Why are the methods questioned and not the outcome? Not one stopped to ask the question that maybe he coached those kids into saying what they said...its 2 out of twenty five making the accusations people!!!!!

  3. It's hard to know where to begin when you read something like this. Anonymous, do you not like the English language?

    But setting your literacy skills aside, onto which bandwagon did you think I was jumping? I posted this article because it clearly said children were threatened by administrators, people who with Klein's blessing have been doing a lot of nasty things to teachers. I was not defending Alejandro nor assuming anything about his innocence or guilt.

    The Post is known to spin its stories, so if you actually know something about what the administrators said or did to the kids in this case, I'd be interested to know. Otherwise, please channel your anger and bizarre comments towards someone else, perhaps someone who speaks your language.

    I'll make that stronger: if you are a UFT teacher, perhaps another profession would suit your skills set a bit better.

  4. As the saying goes sh** trickles down. When the system is run by individuals who operate through intimidation and who feel that their actions need never be questioned, it is only a matter of time before this behavior is emulated.
    Leadership 101.
    Pretty sick that it's being used on second graders.