Sunday, September 20, 2020

No Matter How Bad Things Are, De Blasio Makes Them Worse

I've been relatively quiet for the last few days. I'm shocked at the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the predictable machinations of Trump and his morally bankrupt Senate. Trump's now taken stands against science, against actual history, and essentially against humanity.

So it's harder to sit here in my little corner of the universe and focus on things like education, but I'm working tomorrow, even if the system as a whole may not be. You look at de Blasio's plan, shattered and torn, and wonder how things could possible get any worse. 

But Bill de Blasio holds fast to his plan, no matter how ridiculous it is, and now says he's going to hire thousands of teachers to enable it. While we're waiting, the DOE seems to have approved unconscionable class sizes in some schools, in bizarre plans that make the original insane idea look relatively good. I'm really at a loss to explain how anyone thinks this is a good idea.

De Blasio's plan has been around for a while. Yet it's only now, days before we open schools in one form or another, that we're looking at hiring teachers to enable it. Can we find 4,500 teachers in a week? It's optimistic at best. Meanwhile, just in case a miracle doesn't happen, Carranza announced that no, in fact NYC students will not necessarily be receiving synchronous instruction every day as promised. It makes you wonder why the city embraced this plan in the first place.

So now, city students will go to physical school buildings a day or two each week. If they're extraordinarily lucky, they may go three days. They will sit masked and socially distanced, unable to substantially interact with one another. Teachers will have to enforce these unnatural conditions. If students don't run screaming in horror from this bad science fiction scenario, they'll do something or other in class. If all the stars are in alignment, they'll learn something aside from the terrifying conditions under which education takes place in 2020.

What about the three or four days when they aren't there? I'm really not clear on that. I suppose they could receive asynchronous instruction. That might be assignments. It might be reading the material the teacher covered in class. It could be something of value, I suppose. But it certainly won't be the same thing as actually being in class with a live teacher. There's no substitute for that. 

Suburban schools have a somewhat better idea. Since they aren't obscenely overcrowded, they're able to come in every other day. On off days, students can watch the classes remotely. I wouldn't call that ideal. Day one, you come in under these bizarre restricted conditions. Day two you're home and you have no possibility whatsoever of human interaction. Still, at least it's something.

In New York City, our plans are to do everything and nothing. We're still reaching to do de Blasio's plan, but we all know it won't work even if he hires all the teachers he's talking about. Meanwhile, if we don't look under enough rocks to find the teachers we need, too bad for you, NYC students. The only bright spot in all this is the fact that he's now looking to hire rather than fire thousands of teachers. 

The fact is, though, that dragging thousands of people into a desperate, chaotic situation may not be the best way to initiate new teachers. Actually I started that way, kind of dragged in out of nowhere, and it took me a few years to find my footing. A whole lot of people brought in under such circumstances gave up, and went looking for saner pastures. I thrive in an impossible job, but not everyone does. I certainly can't blame people who crave order and sense. I want it too, but I play the cards I'm dealt.

There are better ways to go. Bill de Blasio, always late for everything, lacks the organization and focus to lead in a crisis. The chancellor has proven himself good only for nodding approval to whatever de Blasio happens to be blabbering about. We're sorely in need of leadership that can provide New Yorkers with something other than disappointment and nonsense.

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