Monday, July 13, 2020

De Blasio to UFT, CSA, DC37, and 1.1 Million Schoolchildren: Drop Dead

It's really hard to outdo the outrageous lack of planning that went into the DOE's hybrid instruction plan. Nonetheless, Bill de Blasio and Richard Carranza have once again outdone themselves. I was interviewed for this piece in NY 1, suggesting that equity and excellence is yet another carefully orchestrated DOE mirage. I'm in one of the so-called outlier schools, and we'd need five cohorts rather than two or three to meet their recommendations.

That's pretty goshdarn inconvenient for City Hall. How can they defend a system that ignores the largest school in Queens? How can they face up to the fact that they've neglected us for so many years? Can they go any lower than meeting minimum standards, already so porous you can drive a Mac truck through them? Of course they can.

Our school has been fighting overcrowding for over a decade. In fact, we had an agreement with Tweed to lower enrollment. When I became chapter leader, I ran around like a madman making sure our outrageous overcrowding got press coverage. I wrote in the Daily News, and we were covered multiple times in the NY Post. We even got a feature in the NY Times. By the time we were covered on television, Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg had to acknowledge us.

UFT arranged a meeting at Tweed along with CSA and our School Leadership Team. We agreed to multiple measures to lower enrollment. We went down from 4600 to 4000, and were on our way to go below 200% capacity for the first time in years. Bill de Blasio failed to observe our agreement, and we're now somewhere around 4500, back to square one. Thanks a lot.

How does the DOE deal with an issue like that now that they're hyping a hybrid plan? Evidently, they want to make minimum social distancing guidelines recommended rather than enforced. I'm told that CDC recommends 65 square feet per student, but DOE wants to reduce it.Evidently if students can't be six square apart, that's just one of those things. It's pretty remarkable to see someone like Bill de Blasio so closely in sync with Donald Trump.

This is unacceptable by any standard. The official UFT position is that this hybrid system can work only if there are guaranteed safeguards. We're not saying recommended safeguards and let's hope for the best. We're saying that we want everyone to be safe, and yes, we want that even for administrators. I'd go as far to argue that the CSA President, Mark Cannizzarro, is not insane. He wrote a beautiful letter about stepping into the unknown. I'd be happy to work for someone who thought like that.

I'm not at all happy, though, about working for someone who jukes the stats and bends the rules to make his poorly conceived plan look a little better. I am not a compulsive rule follower. I understand the need to be flexible. I'd argue that differentiated instruction largely entails treating different people differently, and being able to adjust to their particular personalities. I might give more leeway to one kid than another. Sue me.

However, as regarding human safety, there's absolutely no basis for compromise. We're already on a slippery slope. I've actually read arguments for us returning to buildings suggest we'd probably have to close them again anyway. This means those people fully expect those of us who work and study to get sick and likely die. I don't see how even that is acceptable.

To suggest that we go back without observing minimum safety standards is not only unacceptable, but blatantly unconscionable. I have no idea how Bill de Blasio sleeps at night, but that's not my problem. My problem is keeping everyone who works and studies in schools safe.

Wake up, Bill de Blasio, We need a mayor who shares that concern, and we need that mayor right now.
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