Tuesday, May 05, 2020

RIP Eric "Chaz" Chasanoff

I'm very sad to read that science teacher and blogger Eric Chasanoff has died of Covid. He was 69 years old, older than I thought. Of course that's no consolation at all. I'm not sure how long I've known Eric. I somehow met him in the blogosphere when he started writing.

Eric could seem very harsh on the blog, but in person he was very quiet and gentle. I remember once I brought him to a party for bloggers and the hostess asked me if he would be okay. I told her of course he would be, or I'd never have brought him.

Of course another reason to have brought him was that he knew every corner of New York City. He knew where to park and when. He knew every subway line. He knew which end of the train to get on and off and exactly the best way to go everywhere.

I think the first time I met him in person was when he was sent to my school, Francis Lewis High School, as an ATR. This was probably around ten years ago. I was very happy that he was around, and for a number of reasons.

One was he was quite knowledgeable on topics I was not, like retirement. In fact I still refer retirement questions. He was a great resource for me as a relatively new chapter leader. He instantly recalled rules that had never come up for me. I could always sense when he'd have an answer for me and he never disappointed.

Another was he was unafraid to speak his mind. A lot of us are fearful, and it's one of our worst traits. It doesn't really help us, and it never accomplishes anything. I was fearful when I started writing this blog, and it was probably only around the time I met Eric that I stopped caring who knew I wrote it.

One of the reasons Eric was unafraid is that he had lived through a 30320a proceeding. For those of you who aren't UFT chapter leaders, that's when the DOE tries to fire you. He went through a particularly rough time for no good reason. He was the only person I actually knew when Campbell Brown went on her anti-teacher crusade, and the fact that I knew him made me doubt every one of the stories she used to stereotype us.

Of course, in those bad old days when you went through 3020a and the DOE failed to fire you, they made you an ATR. It was a win-win for batshit crazy principals. Either you got fired or they got rid of you some other way. And Eric became an ATR. I've known and spoken with a lot of ATR teachers, but Eric was one of a kind.

I would be a terrible ATR teacher. While I deal with a lot of issues good and bad as chapter leader, teaching is my north star. I always know what I'm doing in the classroom and why I'm doing it. It centers me somehow. Were I sent from school to school to teach math Chinese business science social studies history Italian and whatever it would drive me mad.

Eric had no such issue. He decided, "Okay, if this is what you want me to do, I'm gonna do it and have fun with it." He even created a blog called The Traveling ATR, in which he detailed his adventures and advised others what to expect. He rated the schools by his exacting standards. It was a public service, and I loved his positive attitude.

In fact I invited him to a forum with MORE (back before they started practicing socialist distancing). He spoke extemporaneously for 45 minutes and generously stayed until he had answered each and every question from the dozens of teachers who showed. It was a great success and a great public service for the many teachers who came to hear him. They all left with the spark of his original and positive outlook.

Chaz blogged for years and answered a whole lot of questions for a whole lot of people. I referred people who'd been excessed or placed in the ATR pool to him and he always found time for them. I'm told he retired only the February before last. I'm glad he finally made it out of the Absent Teacher Reserve, but it's sad he had so little time to enjoy it. I will miss his advice and his voice.

Rest in peace Chaz.
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