Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On Being Unhindered by Inconvenient Reality

It must be great to be Joel Klein. You can simply blame the UFT for everything. There's that awful contract that restrains you from doing all the wonderful work you aspire to. Never mind that you signed it and had a hand in writing it. And the best thing about it is that even if stuff isn't in the contract, you can just make it up and get it printed in the Atlantic. There's prestige for you. And in fairness, why should New York Times columnists and editorial writers corner the market on reforminess?

Klein laments that he could not meet with teachers because the contract prohibited it. I find that odd because I teach in the largest school in Queens and for his entire eight-year tenure the Kleinster did not see fit to set foot in our school even once. I've read the UFT Contract and I haven't seen the part that says a Chancellor may not enter the school building. In fact, both Cathie Black and Dennis Walcott visited my school and I didn't even file a grievance. Walcott and I actually spoke on several occasions.

But Joel Klein is different. He has deep and abiding respect for clauses in the UFT Contract, even if they do not exist. That's just the kind of guy he is. The union was completely uncooperative when Joel tried to reach out. Just look at how hostile then-UFT President Randi Weingarten looks in the photo above. You can just sense the absolute enmity between the two of them. Clearly she isn't cooperating with him at all.

Odd that Klein was so respectful of the Imaginary UFT Contract,  but had multiple issues abiding by the actual UFT Contract. If I'm not mistaken, one year he decided to deny all sabbaticals. I believe that was taken to arbitration and he lost. Odd that someone absolutely willing to unilaterally ignore the real contract would be so upset by clauses hindering his options under the imaginary one.

What's truly odd to me, though, is that several times I directly spoke to Klein at the PEP. Not only did he fail to utter a single word in response, but he appeared to be playing with his Blackberry and utterly ignoring every word I said about the then-massive overcrowding at Francis Lewis High School. I watched him do the same to James Eterno as he spoke the outrageous conditions at Jamaica High School. In fact, though Eterno emailed Klein about the false assumptions used to close Jamaica High School, that didn't stop Klein from going ahead and closing it on those very assumptions.

But of course that is reality, and Klein can't be bothered with such things when telling his story. That's what enables reforminess, actually. You can't get up and say there are billions of dollars in education and Eva Moskowitz needs to get her taste. You can't say you want to close neighborhood schools and make profits for your BFFs. You can't get up and say you're determined to ignore poverty and cut taxes for people who don't send their kids to public schools. Really, you can't get up and say, "I'm Joel Klein, or Mike Bloomberg, or John King, and I choose not to send my own kids to the schools I make up rules for."

Rather, you can write books about the way you choose to remember things. Because Eva Moskowitz, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and the other people who read such books are highly unlikely to fact-check or read blogs like this one. 
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