Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Profiles in Stupid--Remote Teachers Without Accommodation to Work from Buildings

No, there's no school calendar. The Tweedies are occupied with Very Important Stuff and can't be bothered with frivlities like telling us when we have to work.  This week, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza, with two weeks to go before schools are supposed to open, have finally decided to check the ventilation in schools so they could blindly open in a pandemic. This, of course, came right on the heels of telling principals to submit outdoor learning plans by tomorrow. Good luck with that. 

As if that's not enough, they make believe that their plan, to let everyone plod into school and test for COVID only if they feel like it, is the bestest thing ever. 

Here's something, though, that you probably haven't heard before. Some people have accommodations and will be working from home. However, there will be quite a bit of remote learning going on. I read somewhere that 70% of all learning would be remote.

Furthermore, it won't be only teachers with accommodations offering remote learning. Some schools have half or more of their students requesting remote learning. Ask yourself this--if Mayor de Blasio's plan is so foolproof, so goshdarn safe that everyone should jump up and do a jig because it's so fabulous, why aren't New Yorkers banging down the doors to get into those school buildings?

Well, it could be because they're filthy. I haven't seen a custodial employee replaced in my building for years. Fewer employees? Too bad. Do the same work and figure it out. I'm trying to remember just how many months it was last year that the heat and AC in my trailer didn't work. My best guess is all of them. I don't trust the DOE for a New York minute to clean buildings or fix airflow, let alone sanitize them.

And the dysfunction has become more palpable than ever over these last few weeks. Let's take a look at those remote teachers without accommodations. I've now had multiple reports that the DOE is insisting those remote teachers do their work from school buildings. I'm not sure exactly how the DOE came to this conclusion, but it's among the worst decisions I've ever seen them make, and that's saying something.

There is absolutely no advantage in making teachers without accommodations enter school buildings, However, the down side goes well beyond the inconvenience of teachers traveling to buildings for no reason.

1. There will be more people in buildings. This means there will be less available space for the work necessary in buildings. It will also increase the possibility of spreading COVID.

2. Principals have already determined exactly how many people they could accommodate. I'm a chapter leader, and I've done two walkthroughs with my principal. On the last one, we entered dozens of classrooms with tape measure, and calculated exactly how many students each room could hold along with one teacher and one paraprofessional. Now it's back to the drawing board.

3. Depending on where (if anywhere) remote teachers are placed, they may have to be masked. Things are bad enough already. Can you imagine not only having to teach remotely, but also having to be masked? This takes the bad part of live teaching, the bad part of remote teaching, and binds them together in one miserable DOE package. It's what you call a LOSE-LOSE.

4. Schools may not be able to handle the bandwidth. I've been to many Zoom meetings where people don't come in well.  Imagine 60 teachers all Zooming in one building. I've heard principals making announcements asking everyone to get off the net so they could get on. Good luck with that, DOE.

There aren't many organizations that could come up with such a terrible idea. But our DOE not only came up with it--they're enforcing it too. I will inform people at UFT, and hopefully they can fight it. It's tough to fight at this time, given we're concurrently fighting for the health and safety of not only all students, all school employees, and our families. But my tolerance for stupid is growing shorter every day.

I don't envy UFT leadership, negotiating with people so shallow-minded, inconsiderate, and vindictive. But I guess that's what they're paid for. My job is to report this nonsense, I guess, and be as efficient a gadfly as possible.

Over decades of doing this job, I've developed great patience in dealing with kids. It's really hard to believe, though, when you see grownups behave like this. If the mayor and chancellor really wanted to address budget shortfalls, they'd start by dismissing everyone and anyone who could come up with such stupid ideas.

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