NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein may not know what the hell goes on in public schools, may not care, may not listen, but he's an unrivaled expert in assigning blame. When the city closes dozens of schools and labels them failing, it's not his fault. He seems to think his job is to run the system any way the mayor tells him, but not to take responsibility for it. When Bloomberg makes draconian budget cuts, he says oh well, that's the way it goes.
One of the many idiotic talking points to justify the Chancellor's abject failure to improve schools is his length of service. "He's been around longer than anyone." So have many diseases, but you never see people praising them for it. And the fact is, he's only been around this long because his primary job is doing whatever the hell billionaire Mike Bloomberg tells him to. Stand up for the kids? That's not his job. So essentially, NYC schools don't have a chancellor--they have another echo chamber for Mayor Mike, just like the toothless and pointless PEP.
So when Joel Klein stands up and says, "Gee, I really wanted to change the idiotic calendar I created, but that mean old UFT wouldn't let me," the NY Post may write yet more crap reinforcing his delusions, but that doesn't make them true. Joel Klein can change the calendar any way he wishes. This is the guy who insisted kids come in on June 25th even though all their grades were done, all their tests were done, and they were, for all intents and purposes, finished. At my school, very few of them came in. I have that info secondhand because I didn't come in either.
And when Joel Klein comes to the UFT asking for favors, even legitimate ones (as if), the appropriate response is "no." We gave the rubber room, the ratings, "fair student funding," mayoral control, and every professional gain we'd made since I became a teacher 25 years ago. For that, we get a mayor saying first, "I'll give you less than half what other public employees got," and then, "I'll give you nothing," and later, "Maybe I'll lay off teachers even though I'm giving them nothing." Oddly, when he violates the Taylor Law the papers, which would have crucified us for it, praise him.
If Mayor Bloomberg wants the time of day from the UFT, let him come bearing a fair contract. Otherwise, let his puppet Joel Klein point his fingers any way he wishes. Ostensibly, he's the chancellor. What that really means is this--when schools fail, it's his fault. When he closes schools based on false statistics, that's his fault too.
Most relevant here, though, is that he can unilaterally change that Wednesday to a PD day without touching the contract. He doesn't need UFT permission. When he violates the contract, when he ignores the Taylor Law, which he does as a matter of course, he doesn't ask, "May I?" Were he reasonable, were he fair, we could say, "Sure, let's do that." But he isn't, and we can't.
I applaud UFT leadership for declining to make any deals or alter the contract. I sincerely hope, until and unless the city negotiates in good faith, that they continue to do so.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.