December 8, 2009

A train to nowhere

After reporting on Dec. 2nd that the chancellor is moving to close four schools, the Times reported two days later that four more are slated to be phased out, and word has it that BloomKlein is actually planning to close 20 by the end of the year.

To put this campaign into perspective, read Leonie Haimson's post of a few days ago, where she says that "the DoE to this day continues to deny the damaging effects of their school closure policies."

Added to that, she says, the DoE "is breeding new small schools each year like rabbits, with no thought of quality control, sustainability, or collateral damage on the system as a whole."

If these schools are so bad that they need to be closed, what the heck has Joel Klein been doing for seven years?

As appalled as I always am at this chancellor's policies and directives, to judge him as incompetent is misguided. In order to say he's not good at his job, the man would have had to have had the formal training, skills, and license required of school superintendents by law, not to mention a recognizable calling to educate children.

Klein patently has none of these, and the country's businessmen are rejoicing. He's going full steam ahead on a new kind of public education — sans union, sans tenure, sans transparency, sans everything.

Klein isn't educating our kids, he's just playing with cash and property.

People like him shouldn't be allowed to make decisions about which schools have to be closed and which just need some more help. (Smaller classes would be an excellent start, plus the appointment of more principals who've come up through the ranks instead of being barfed out of the infamous Leadership Academy.)

It's like tossing your car keys over to an inexperienced, unlicensed driver and hoping you'll get get home with all your body parts. You're trusting precisely the wrong person with your health and well-being.

Last night I received an email from a teacher whose school is going down. I thought I'd post it because it's written from the gut, and that's the only way the public gets to hear the misery of what's going on. Forgive me for not including names and places. It's better not to these days.
Honestly this made me want to dance on the head of a pin after the way I've been treated, especially under the "new" principal they brought in (in a BIG hurry to replace the former principal who I went to work for), who's been torturing me and other senior teachers. She had the NERVE to cry in front of us after the DOE big-wigs made their announcement to the faculty today during our "conference day" meeting. The school needs to be closed — it's disgusting. The inmates running the asylum.

The UFT peeps came then and started the "rah-rah" routine — do we want to FIGHT for our school, etc... and frankly, I don't if it means working under an illiterate, nasty, thug. Find me an exemplary, teacher-respecting, professional educational leader and then ask me to fight. The kids — and the teachers — are the losers in all this . . .

Maybe the parents once they realize their special needs children WON'T be the recipients of the Mayor's big reform plan might get active, but I wouldn't bet on it. Politicians have no incentive, as their constituents don't even vote most of the time, and the kind of rabid local community activists who dominated the now-defunct school boards went the way of the dodo once there was nothing in it ($$) for them. I know there are parent-activists in the city, but they have little clout — they are neither influential nor a real threat to the stability of the city, like in the mid-late-60's.

So — what will happen in the future? Perhaps public school fees might inspire more public investment in education. Once you have to pay for something, you value it.
I really hope we don't have to go that route, but my colleague is right about one thing. Parents of NYC schoolkids cannot depend on a handful of activist teachers and citizens mounting a few protests here and there to rein in a machine like BloomKlein's created with their cronies in government and the edu-business sector.

At some point they'll have to come out in force if they want to put this train back on track.

Someone just alerted me to a new post at Ed in the Apple that is eerily similar to this one. Here's hoping a million others will jump on board.

Norm Scott's thought on that post: "
Does Goodman talk about failed leadership of the enablers/uft at the top? Goodman was on the payroll judging whether schools should be closed down."

The short answer is no. Just like Weingarten was on our payroll all those years making nice to those evil plutocrats instead of going after their jugulars.


  1. We need to stop the DOE from closing public schools. Teachers wake up and join the fight. My school close four years ago and there are still 20 percent or teachers who didn't find jobs. Another 20 percent moved to Jersey or retiered.

  2. I am a bit out of touch with the city's machinations: Does this mean all the displaced teachers will go into the infamous ATR pool? The same pool Klein complains about?

  3. YES!! The ATR pool will grow and many of these teachers will never find appointed jobs -- this will be the end of their carreers. They will be 4EVERATRS.

  4. The UFT website says: "If you work in a school that is closing or being phased out, you have the right to apply and be considered for positions in any new schools in the same building. Under Article 18D of the UFT contract, a minimum of 50 percent of the positions in the new schools are reserved for the most senior applicants from the closing school who meet the school’s qualifications.
    Any remaining vacancies at the new school are to be filled by that school’s Personnel Committee from among transfer applicants, excessed staff and/or new hires. Candidates must hold appropriate credentials."

    So, not ALL the teachers become ATRs. Many will find jobs because they are new teachers. Untenured people are attractive to some principals because they can be fired at will. Tenured teachers with not so much seniority are also attractive because they are cheaper. It is the senior educator who will probably lose his or her career and become an ATR. They cost a lot more. Also the teachers of electives, since the new small schools don't always offer the same range of electives that the bigger schools do.

    PS: I just found out this tonight. If your position is shut down and you can't be excessed because you have more than 20 years' appointed service (no one can be excessed after 20), they are allowed to offer you up to a FULL PROGRAM TEACHING OUT OF LICENSE — and you'd have to take it!!!!

  5. "Under Article 18D of the UFT contract, a minimum of 50 percent of the positions in the new schools are reserved for the most senior applicants from the closing school..." When my school closed four years ago, the principal did not care about the Article 18D of the UFT contract. The 50% of the teachers who lost the jobs were SENIOR TEACHERS. RW and the UFT pretended to sue the DOE for age discrimination and at this point that law suit with Strook & Strook did not go anywhere because the DOE, the UFT and the EEOC are a bunch of corrupts.

  6. How about appealing school closings to the new Commissioner of Education, David Steiner, under Education Law §310 within thirty days from the date that PEP votes to close a school or group of schools?

  7. That's a neat idea, 4:23, except for the fact that you "must show through documentary evidence, pleadings that are verified (sworn to as correct and accurate) and affidavits that you have been directly injured by the district's action. You must show that the respondent (usually the school district) either (1) violated a statute or regulation; or (2) acted arbitrarily and capriciously."

    That's from the FAQs page:

    I don't think any of these burdens can be met by teachers enraged by our ethically challenged mayor and his flunkies. Even if we were working at one of these schools whose closing would affect us personally, to satisfy (2) above with full documentation in 30 days would not be feasible. FOILing alone would take months.

    These people are already guilty in the court of opinion. They're violating the public trust and purse, and to an unbridled degree abusing the powers they were given by law and the ones they helped themselves to in various nefarious ways (e.g., no-bid contracts, 3rd term, altering tests and test dates, hiding data, using taxpayer money to hype their fraudulent sucesses).

    It's a real case of the textbooks, what they've done.

  8. To Under Assault:

    Demonstrating that an EIS is inaccurate ought to impress the legal eagles at the NYS Education Department:

    I believe you have posted something in the past about appeals to the Commissioner of Education.

    It is a route which should be explored, no?

  9. Yes, you're right, I mentioned the Comm. of Education a few times.

    An appeal would have been useless in the past, since the old commissioner (Mills) did not stand up to the BloomKlein coup (having given Klein a waiver in the first place — that man should never have had the chancellorship). Regarding Steiner, who took over on July 1st, Diane Ravitch wrote this last summer in an article on the standards:

    "I served with Steiner on the board of the Core Knowledge Foundation, an organization that believes that all children should have a balanced education that includes the arts, history, science and other subjects, not just reading and math.
    Brilliant and well-educated, he's unlikely to tolerate the way New York's standards have declined in response to federal pressure."

    I don't know what Steiner's position on school closings is.

    But Ravitch does ask: "This is Steiner's challenge: Can he take on the culture in Albany that created this mess of lies and beat it?"

    Steiner has to take on a lot more than the officials up in Albany who have given Bloomberg a pass on mayoral control and his attacks on parents and unions. The commissioner has to take on a mayor who can bribe his agenda forward for the next four years.

    He also will want to reap the monetary handouts from Race to the Top to the states who let new charters in, which you do by allowing public schools to be irrationally shut down and making education chaotic in many communities. Then sell out to the Ed-Business sector.

    My bet Steiner will do just that and appeals will go nowhere.