Sunday, April 05, 2020

De Blasio Kills Multiple Birds With One Stone, Sabotaging Teachers, Students, and Organized Religion

 Let's be clear. Though we may have been a little rough on the mayor this week, the epidemic is not his fault. All he did was neglect it and allow it to spread like wildfire. And it's not his fault there are issues with Zoom. All he did was withdraw it with no notice whatsoever, leaving tens of thousands of teachers up the creek without even a virtual paddle.

Now you might think that the DOE just sat around and envisioned ways to exacerbate an already horrible situation. I was LAB-BESIS coordinator at my school for one very long year, and that was precisely the impression I got whenever I had to deal with DOE. I quit that job first chance I got.

This week it's like we're all playing a board game and Bill de Blasio not only sends us all back to square one, but also announces from now on we're all playing a new game altogether. You damn well better be able to start tomorrow AM. Also, the rules lay out only what you CANNOT do, which is use the tool most of us have depended on since this all began.

I shouldn't be surprised at acts of outright spite or gross incompetence anymore. I should simply sit in a lotus position, chant a mantra, and expect it to happen. After all, I work for the DOE, which was molded into a largely malignant force under Michael Bloomberg.

When de Blasio came in, I thought things would turn around. I expected a sea change, but he simply left the Bloomberg machine in place. If you're a chapter leader, you know that Bloomberg's "legal" department still advises principals to break the contract whenever they goshdarn feel like it. When the current chancellor took the baby step of firing a few people, he was accused of racism. Yet he should've fired a few hundred people, fumigated Tweed, and started over.

I've been doing online lessons for about two weeks, scrambling to keep up with myself, with little idea what, if anything, my students were getting from this. I still lack the confidence to give an assessment of any kind, be it a test, a project or a writing piece. I will get over that. Call me cynical, but I will not trust the results. I've long ago decided I could not stop cheating in homework, but with in-class assessments I could really see what was going on. No more of that.

Now that's not the fault of Bill de Blasio. As I said earlier, all he did was drag his feet and make a deadly epidemic much worse than it needed to be. Sure, thousands of people will die as a result of his gross negligence and ineptitude, but had he closed the schools when he should have, students would still be able to cheat when using remote learning. So let's be fair, The issues surrounding remote learning are not the fault of Mayor de Blasio. In fairness, all you can reasonably blame the mayor for would be widespread disease, death, and utter indifference to working people.

Now we've learned that there are issues with Zoom. Personally, I knew it weeks ago, when colleagues told me that students, or someone, had utilized the whiteboard and drawn distasteful and obscene things on it. The first-year teacher who taught me how to use Zoom told me to disable screen sharing for students and enable a waiting room. I've had no issues, but I have wonderful students.

As far as I know, that makes no difference to Mayor de Blasio. Whether Zoom works for you or not, you can't use it. If your school of thousands of kids uses Google rather than Microsoft, you can all go to hell. Alternatively, you can instantly issue thousands of Microsoft addresses to students. Piece of cake, and no skin of Bill de Blasio's apple. He'll be having his chauffeur drop him at a Brooklyn park for his constitutional while you're freaking out trying to figure what the hell you're going to do come class time tomorrow. (And don't worry if that entails your working weekends. Bill de Blasio has no problem with that either.)

For Bill de Blasio, the important thing is to keep us working. It's important we work every day, and for him, withdrawing the tool most of us use with no notice whatsoever is a non-issue. It's just one more directive for us to follow, like working on religious holidays. The time off our students anticipated as much as we did is canceled just like that. Bill de Blasio couldn't care less that hundreds of thousands of kids will make the executive decision to take the week off anyway. That's your problem. Go give a class to two students, and the rest of them can go to hell, you know, just like you and 80,000 other teachers.

The mayor, who took half a year off to campaign for President, thinks time off is a frivolity that none of us actually merit. He's shown blatant contempt for religious holidays that have been honored for longer than most teachers have been alive. Then, of course, there's sending us and our students to work in disease infested buildings he himself wouldn't set foot in on a bet.

This is not leadership. If you treated your students with the contempt and indifference that Mayor de Blasio has shown us you'd have letters to file, face 3020a charges, lose you job, and find yourself in need of employment. They're always looking for help at Arby's, but you might not fare so well if you showed customers the contempt and indifference that has become de Blasio's trademark..

Mayor De Blasio, like teachers scrambling to figure out what the hell they're going to do without Zoom tomorrow, needs a fresh start. I'm thinking maybe he could try a part time gig walking dogs in the park before venturing into anything more demanding. That will give the rest of us pick up the pieces from his disastrous failed administration before having to look at his smirking face again.
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