Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Yet Another Chancellor's Email


Dear Colleagues,
There are many things that keep me up at night, including constant messages I receive from families who simply want the best for their children. Lots of them seem not to want to get sick and die from COVID, and that’s why we gave them a choice of not going in. After all, why simply say the entire community ought not to risk sickness and death when we can give you a choice? You can always count on us!

Our schools play such an important role in the wellbeing of our children—especially now, when they have been through so much. For us, health and safety lead the way, always. Unless, of course, you're a staff member without a medical condition, or you choose to opt for our hybrid program. In fact, if you failed to fill out our survey, you’re there by default. School will be in session 5 days per week—no matter where our students are.  We can't wait to cancel days off again!
We know a lot more now about how that is going to work with respect to mathematically impossible in-person learning, as well as remote learning. Right now we are planning for nearly three-quarters of our students—over 700,000—to begin the school year in a blended learning mode. This means we’ll have a few days or weeks before people start getting sick and we have to close the schools again. Of course it will be your fault for opting in, a win-win for us!

As of now, 26 percent of families plan to begin the year in fully remote learning. This is how we choose to interpret surveys, because who is gonna say otherwise? (The papers? Fahgedaboutit.) Those who make no choice automatically agree with us. Beats the hell out of, you know, elections, and we don't have to do actual rigging. Additionally, we know that as of now we can expect about 85 percent of the teaching workforce to be teaching in person in a blended model as well. Unless more of them apply not to. Fortunately, lots of teachers are afraid to apply, thinking there’ll be retribution, another win for us, as we don't give a flying hoot how anyone feels once we manage to drag them in by hook or by crook.
About 15 percent of teachers have requested a reasonable accommodation to work from home. Alas, we were unable to offer them our first choice of unreasonable accommodation. (Those damn lawyers ruin everything,) But you have grit, and that must be a good thing because people are always telling me full of grit. If it were up to me you’d all be paid in pure grit but it’s unlikely I’ll still have this gig by the time contract time comes around. 

So: with all this information at hand, each school continues to develop plans to reopen, and that is largely thanks to our absolute determination to take no responsibility whatsoever for these uniformly impractical and unworkable programs. Each school is blazing an entirely new path for their schools, and I’m certainly glad my children will not be part of the miserable dystopian science fiction that will be occurring in city classrooms come September, or October, or whenever we get around to releasing a calendar. 

We just can't say enough about all the school-based staff working who will be coming in to reinforce the hopeless exercise in futility we will engage in before we inevitably go all remote. Our Central and Borough and Citywide Office employees are critical to reopening too, of course, and will do all in their power to make you pay as little attention as possible to this convoluted and incomprehensible process, just as long as it does not interfere with their crucial function of scheduling our gala luncheons (be they virtual or in person). 

Speaking of Central employees, there is some important news I am so excited to share with you. As of Monday, Donald Conyers has been named First Deputy Chancellor for the DOE. I know that at a time like this, with hopelessly terrified teachers, students, and staff you just can't wait to hear all about who I pick to help me do whatever it is that I do. I can only imagine how much you care about this as you wonder whether you, your students, or your loved ones will contract or spread the virus via public transportation, classroom interaction, touching surfaces that haven’t been cleaned for a century, or breathing the air that we simply cannot recirculate. So please, stop worrying about life and death and start focusing on some guy you've never heard of who you have no idea what he does. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Each of you continues to act as though we have enough teachers to double up and teach remotely while you are teaching in person, and we sincerely hope you go in each and every day to teach live, then go home and repeat this remotely.—setting an example for the young people who, not long from now, will be asked to work impossible hours for no compensation, risking their lives for a program that's certain to fail miserably, just as we’re asking you to do now. 

Thank you so much again for your dedication during this extraordinary time.
In unity,

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