I'm sitting in an office at 7 AM by myself writing this. I do this because there's no one here at this hour. Sometimes I do planning at this time. No one bothers me because almost no one has to be here until 8. I keep ridiculous hours and may fall down and sleep at 8 PM. As chapter leader I actually have a shared office, but it's in a pretty noisy part of the building and kids are always walking in and out to talk to my office mate.
I spent 12 years teaching in a trailer. The first time, I got dumped there. But I couldn't help but notice it was a full-size classroom. This was an improvement from the half classrooms I'd been dumped in, and also from the bowling alley shaped converted custodian work spaces. It was an improvement on my room in the music wing where the guy next door blasted Flight of the Valkyries every single day. It was tough teaching English with that going on.
My school is now at 214% capacity, the most overcrowded in the city. That's because, believe it or not, community residents like us. I'm certainly grateful for that, because were that not the case, Bloomberg would have closed us down first chance he got. I'd be a wandering ATR, visiting schools all over the borough and reflecting on what it's like to be a teacher without a class. For the record, I love teaching but hate subbing. I would be one very unhappy ATR, even though it would give me a whole lot of primo blogging material.
Our PE teachers are gladiators, teaching up to 500 students a week. Some genius in Albany wrote a new requirement that makes it very tempting for principals to offer PE half time, and we of course are doing it. I have no idea how the teachers even learn anyone's name. I have no idea how on earth, other than who shows up, they are supposed to assess these kids. I'm sure there's some idiotic rubric somewhere with instructions for them to follow. I'm also certain it's written by someone who doesn't teach ten classes of fifty students a week.
In our school, what with being at 214% capacity and all, we can't actually fit all our PE classes in the gyms. So a whole lot of them are outside. Unless of course, it rains or snows, or is too cold to hold classes. In fact I've seen classes out there on very cold days. I've seen them out there in the dark. I wonder how many times Donald Trump Jr. had to run around in the dark. I'm guessing never.
Then there are the facilities we are forced to use. I've already mentioned the trailers and the odd shaped classrooms. I forgot the converted bookrooms with no windows, the half rooms in which cheating becomes a virtual national pastime, and the ones with windows overlooking the fragrant dumpsters.
And let's not overlook the oversized classes. Let's first establish that NYC has the highest class sizes in the state already. Then come to my school, bursting at the seams, where new kids walk in each and every day and administration simply cannot figure out how the hell to come into compliance. I'm trying to help, and I am getting very good support from UFT right now.
There's probably more to say, and I'm sure I'm living in the lap of luxury compared to Detroit, but I'll leave it at that. For Donald Trump to say schools are "flush with cash," I'd say he's delusional, but it's more likely he's just telling another ridiculous lie to justify his agenda, one in which reason and common sense play no part whatsoever.
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.