Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Today's Class

Today, after having given our Regents exams, after having finalized and turned in all our grades, NY City high school teachers will face our students. Well, that is, we will face the students who bother to show up. All the students know grades are in. This is an innovation created by Dennis "Waffles" Walcott, reformy extraordinaire.

Personally, I don't believe that grades are everything. I think there's more to education than passing tests. We have a lot of interactions that aren't recorded, and we do a lot of things that are not actually required by contract. Of course we get no credit for these things, not on the Danielson rubric, not on the junk science ratings, and our supervisors don't even know when we work things out for kids. But we're teachers and that's what we do.

Nonetheless, high school students are not coming in today expecting help with non-academic issues. They're not coming in expecting help with academic issues either. In fact, a whole lot of them are simply not coming in at all, and I don't blame them. I mean, it's nice to come and say hello to your teacher and friends. However, when I was a teenager, if you told me that the grades were all in and there were no consequences for my non-attendance, you'd probably find me at the beach.

I teach ESL, and a lot of my students will show up. I'll show up too, because, you know, it's my job and I get paid and stuff. But it's not a productive use of our time. If we all have to come in, and the grades are a fait acompli,  the reformies who devised this should have found a better way for us to spend our time. Maybe they could send us all to a baseball game or a play. Maybe we could visit a college. Maybe there is something we can do other than sit in a classroom when class time is effectively over.

Actually I know they'll never do that, so here's my real idea--why not just push the Regents exams forward one day, and have us teach one day before the Regents exams? Wouldn't a class day be more productive if the students thought it were actually worth showing up?  Now I realize I'm just a lowly teacher whose paycheck is a mere fraction of Dennis Walcott's. And I've never been to a Leadership Academy or even an administration school (though he hasn't either). But naturally, by virtue of his innate reforminess alone, his idea is much better than mine. Still, I have no idea why.

My kids are great, and I'm sure they will pose no problems for me or anyone. But what if they weren't? What if they really didn't want to show and their parents forced them? What if they know their grades cannot be lowered, they can't be suspended, and it's highly unlikely there will be any consequence for any actions that aren't specifically felonious?

Dennis Walcott wasn't worried about things like that, because he wasn't a teacher. Who cares if Johny commits an atrocity in Miss Grundy's class? It's not like the AC was gonna break down in Walcott's  office, or the window air conditioners in Bloomberg's SUV were threatened. It's not like he was gonna have to eat whatever was left over on the last day the school cafeteria was open. And this certainly was not gonna result in bad service at his gala luncheon at the Plaza.

So if you're sitting five periods in a classroom that looks like the one above, consider sending a thank you note to Dennis Walcott. The thing about reformies is they're all about wasting your time. They don't really care about the quality of education. They have their eye on opportunities. After all, Eva Moskowitz is barely pulling in 500K a year, and you can barely buy a house with that these days. There are more charters to be built, and cyber-charters that don't even have to technically exist to rake in the bucks.

If you and your kids have to spend your time sitting around doing nothing for no good reason, well, that's a small price to pay for all this progress.
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