Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Let's Be Careful Out There

When Mayor Bloomberg was running the NYC school system, his attitude toward teachers was easy to read - he despised them, thought little of teachers as people and even less of teaching as a profession and wanted as many fired as possible.

Every year around March we'd start the budget layoff season in which Bloomberg would threaten thousands of teacher layoffs.

Every year those layoffs would be averted, but the message to teachers was quite clear from the Bloomberg-run DOE:

We don't like you, we don't respect you, we don't care about you, we don't trust you and we are doing everything in our power to screw with you.

Bloomberg hired chancellors who carried out this anti-teacher campaign - Klein despised teachers, Black was brought in to lay some off (one of her specialties as a magazine exec was downsizing), Walcott replaced the woeful Black and picked up where Klein left off.

Now we have Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina, two individuals who claim to respect teachers, two individuals who say they want to bring dignity back to the teaching profession, and while those words sound good on the surface, so far many teachers in the system have seen little actual change from the Bloomberg/Walcott Years when it comes to the anti-teacher campaign.

I know I continue to see administrators target teachers, humiliate them in front of students, and do everything in their power to wreck careers and ruin reputations.

Something the chancellor said that showed up in the NY Daily News last weekend makes me think the message coming from the NYCDOE to administrators is to continue with the teacher targeting:

Fariña pledged to announce in the next two weeks a big reduction in the number of teachers getting paid despite not having steady classroom jobs. Earlier this month 114 of the roughly 1,100 teachers — known as the Absent Teacher Reserve — accepted $16,000 buyouts.

Fariña said the numbers would dwindle further as principals are taught best practices for writing up teachers and beginning the arduous termination process.

As I noted in a Sunday post, these paragraphs came right below this one:

She also expressed confidence she could improve teacher retention by restoring the dignity of the job. But it won’t be easy. A recent teachers union survey found that 32,000 teachers walked away from city classrooms in the last 11 years, with about 4,600 going to jobs elsewhere in the state — mainly to city suburbs that offer higher pay and less challenging teaching conditions.

Farina is playing fast and loose with the language here, sending out dual messages at once about the importance of teacher retention and restoring dignity to the teaching profession even as she says she plans to make sure every principal knows exactly how to target teachers and get rid of them.

Now I don't know about you, but I found the statement about making sure "principals are taught best practices for writing up teachers and beginning the arduous termination process" ominous.

It seems to me not much has changed from the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Years except for this:

The de Blasio/Farina DOE is less honest and forthcoming in their anti-teacher campaign than the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott DOE.

With Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott, you knew they were looking to screw with you.

De Blasio and Farina like to talk about "dignity" and "teacher retention," but as Norm Scott always says about people, watch what they do, not what they say.

When I drown out what they say and instead watch what they do, I'm not seeing much of a difference from the previous administration when it comes to the treatment of teachers - all teachers.

So let's be careful out there this year, folks.

And yes, I'm echoing Michael Conrad.


  1. What is there to say? I completely agree with you about our new Mayor and Chancellor. "Here's the new boss, same as the old boss".....
    Yes, we should be VERY careful out there.