Wednesday, August 23, 2017

NY Post Reports Teacher Has Office

This morning I was perusing the news when I saw this story about some 36-year-old teacher who evidently had an affair with a 16-year-old student. It appears this was not completely unique in that school, and the Post calls it "Horndog High." The student was just awarded $750,000 in punitive damages.

Of course this teacher, unlike the ATRs whose heads are regularly demanded, was actually found guilty of something and fired. That's what happens to teachers when they do things like these, as opposed to, say, being in the wrong school at the right time.

In any case, the story also contained this paragraph:

While the married mom was supposed to be tutoring Eng, the pair were having intercourse and oral sex in her SUV and even in her office, where she was accused of keeping a stash of weed in her filing cabinet.

Her office? A teacher has an office? Have you ever heard of such a thing? Could you imagine having a quiet place to prepare your lessons, think about what you're going to do, and write quietly? I share a department office with a dozen other people, and since we work with the English department, a bunch of English teachers are always coming and going as well. Actually I come in an hour early almost every single day to prepare for my classes.

That's not enough, of course. You never know what's going to happen, or what you'll have to change or adjust. At the end of almost every day I have things on my mind, and I have to write them down or they'll forever be lost. My short-term memory is not exactly a thing of wonder and beauty.

I'm also the chapter leader, so I'm contractually entitled to a work space. I've had one for the last three or four years, in fact. I've shared a small office with the leader of our JROTC program. I'm sure he would tell you I'm the best office mate anyone could have. I'm almost never there. Originally I used it a little more. The principal was kind enough to furnish me with a computer, and whenever there was a grievance or something, I'd file it online and print it there.

Then I bought a Macbook Air and started carrying it everywhere. With WiFi printing available in our building, there wasn't much need for me to visit the office,  I therefore became an even better office mate.

However, there were about 300 UFT members in my school last time I looked. Stuff happens. People get upset. Sometimes they need a private space. I was able to provide that because my friend from JROTC, perhaps in eternal gratitude for my having left him alone 98% of the time, was always ready to give space to me and whoever else required it.

Unfortunately, this year the DOE, in its infinite wisdom, decided to give us 4,725 students. They also increased our special education population from about 650 to 800. This means we needed another school psychologist. Actually we've needed one for years. This year we probably need three, so we'll have two. Alas, the principal has unceremoniously booted me and the JROTC leader from our office.

Now in fairness, he's also given up his conference room to be used as a classroom, so the sacrifice is not entirely on our end. He's also offered me alternate space in our UFT Teacher Center office. But that's ridiculous, with all sorts of people marching in and out, and all sorts of scheduled meetings and PD sessions there. I declined the offer.

The thing is, when people are upset, they need privacy. The contract requires the school to give me some space, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't need to be adequate space. For now, I'm moving my office to the street.

Now things could change. With the help of Ellie Engler from UFT we were able to negotiate an annex to our building, though that's a few years away. This should get us 18 classrooms, although if they remove the trailers it will only be a net gain of ten. DOE agreed that this would be to accommodate our existing population. However, as far as I'm concerned, but overloading us in advance, they've reneged on their deal.

I expect September to be a disaster. Meanwhile, the folks who made these decisions will sit around in Tweed, in their air-conditioned offices, doing Whatever it Is They Do There. Thank goodness they're on the job.
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