Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Party At The PD Weekend

Last Thursday, my school principal provided muddy coffee and stale bagels for Brooklyn/Queens Professional Development Day.

I abstained from both, preferring a cup of coffee from Starbucks and my own food brought from home.

We enjoyed five and half hours of meetings ranging from a two and a half hour full staff extravaganza in the 95 degree auditorium to a one hour department meeting to a two hour cross curriculum/cross grade meeting in the computer room.

Lunch was supposed to be an hour and fifteen minutes, but the meetings went long and that got cut to 45 minutes.

We did have half an hour at the end of the day for "personal planning."

Otherwise, the day was packed with activities and meetings (most of which were mind numbing and soul sucking.)

Unlike the PD weekend the folks at Progress High School enjoyed according to a rather long, juicy piece in today's Daily News:

As education officials warned parents of painful budget cuts, staffers at a Brooklyn high school went on a boozy, all-you-can-eat junket in the Hudson Valley, courtesy of a taxpayer-funded vendor.

Progress High School Principal William Jusino took his troops to the Mohonk Mountain House last weekend, where their rooms cost up to $770 a night, the Daily News found.

The two-night trip was sponsored by a city Education Department vendor called Leadership Group Inc., which relies mostly on city, state and federal grants.


Education Department spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld said the Leadership Group paid $40,000 for the Mohonk weekend and an overnight getaway for another school. He said the DOE paid $2,000 for the Progress High School seminars and that Leadership "donated" the food, lodging, bus and booze. He refused to break down the cost of the two trips.

The DOE has paid Leadership $42,000 in the past two fiscal years for its work with Progress. He said the company provides professional development at "a whole bunch of schools" and has organized nine retreats. Only Progress and one other school did overnights, he said.

A company spokeswoman insisted "private money" was used.

The company has snared nearly $60 million in DOE contracts since 1996, including $9.8 million in fiscal 2009 and 2010, plus millions of dollars in work with the state and federal education departments.

Rooms at Mohonk range from $320 a night to the $2,500 Mountain View Tower Suite. Jusino stayed in a Victorian Tower Room, which goes for $770 a night.

Meals are included, but drinks are not. The entire group of 25 to 30 made the 90-mile trip upstate from the city via private bus.

The same day the Progress crew headed to Mohonk, Chancellor Joel Klein sent parents a letter warning that a "huge" budget deficit could lead to painful cuts at schools around the city.


As the letters were being sent, Progress staffers feasted in the compound's aerie restaurant. On the menu: pan-seared rib-eye, roasted Tasmanian salmon and "Mohonk chocolate explosion."

After the meal, Jusino and several teachers bellied up to a private bar in a cozy conference room behind the public taproom.

Inside, one of the teachers proclaimed the liquor would continue flowing at a "secret" locale after midnight. The secret location? Jusino's room, an elegant flat with stunning views of the Catskill Mountains.

"Must be nice to be the principal," a teacher said as he strode into the spacious chamber. One teacher reclined on the principal's bed; other educators sat in armchairs.

A makeshift bar that included Bacardi rum and Jack Daniel's sat atop a bureau. Teachers took turns enjoying the balcony.

The party ended about 1a.m. Staffers moved to a smaller room, talking excitedly about a "deejay party" the following night.

"Usually, these retreats are crazy," a gym teacher named Corey said.

The following day, Saturday, the seminar began at 9 a.m. in the resort's Conference House. The group broke around noon for a buffet of prime rib, turkey or ham, pasta, salads, cookies and cakes.

Jusino signed up to tee off on the golf course at 3:30 p.m., but didn't show, a hotel employee said. Nine holes go for $25; 18 holes for $30.

On its Web site, the Leadership Group describes workshops on classroom management, leadership, bullying prevention and "coping with change."

The site also displays a photograph of Jusino and audio in which he praises the program: "We thought by bringing in the kind of educational, cultural, recreation programs that they were offering, that they'd give us some soul."

Some professional development, eh?

I'd like just a little bit of the money spent on the PD weekend for Progress High School in order to fix the hole in the ceiling of my classroom the size of Geoffrey Canada's ego.

And maybe a little extra to take out the rusty lockers in the back of my classroom that invite lockjaw if you brush into them and scratch yourself.

Oh, all right - and just a little more to get rid of the mice that live in my classroom and feed on the paperwork.

Not too much to ask, right?

In the Kleinberg DOE it is - unless you're Mistress Eva or For-Profit Geoffrey or apparently the good folks at Progress High School.

I wonder who is on the take in this case?

The comments after the article say things like

Read the article. Private money was donated to the school to do this. Who knows why anyone would spend that, but essentially there's no story here. Another disappointing article from the Daily News. I wish they would report on the real issues.

But of course it is a real issue. Why would some private entity donate money for this kind of PD weekend? What exactly is the payoff for them?

You know there has to be one.

The privatized PD that Kleinberg has brought to the NYCDOE invites this kind of stuff.

Not at my school, of course. We got muddy coffee and stale bagels.

But at some schools, private money or not, they're living large.

And it's wrong.


  1. Oh my god, this was the funniest post. I loved it. Your room is exactly like mine. The mouse, the lockers, the whole thing. How does this stuff continue to go on 9 years into this ridiculous mayoral control experiment? Why aren't people outraged? Thanks for giving me a good laugh about something that normally would make my blood pressure soar.

  2. You write well! I love your deliciously sick sense of humor (which is the only kind to have if you work for the DOE). In addition to the mice and lockers, we have rats, roaches, water bugs and semi-toxic leaks.

  3. We have mice and roaches and rats and semi-toxic leaks and water bugs and Klein!!!