Wednesday, June 30, 2021

NYCBOE Screwup is Everyday Event for NYC Teachers

It's remarkable to read about the fact that the NYC Board of Election sat around for a week only to come up with election results that included 140,000 ballots that didn't belong. You sit and wonder how they could do that. How can they screw up the only job for which they exist, and do so this publicly? What were they doing the week they were supposed to be counting? How did no one notice there were 140,000 ballots that weren't there before?

One year I took a job as LAB-BESIS coordinator. I had to coordinate testing of ELLs. I'm not sure what else that job entails now, but when I had it, it had to do with making reports from a preposterously outdated computer system. Of course, the reports could've been computerized, saving me days of tedious work, but no one at the DOE had bothered to do it. After all, they had Very Important Stuff to do there in Tweed, and why should they worry about efficiency, let alone utterly unnecessary work?

I remember finding an issue with one student who was clearly a native speaker of English. He was locked into ESL classes for reasons I don't recall, and his mom refused to allow him to take the test. There was a missing record or something, and when I called the people at the DOE to help, not only did they refuse, but they threatened me. I was going to be in Big Trouble if I continue to pursue this. It was clear to me that whatever I did, I would never be able to help this kid. I quit the job in June and haven't spent one moment regretting it. 

Another time, I helped someone with a grievance about an untimely letter. Admin had come to us with complaints of things that happened years before, and very helpfully documented it for us. When I went to step 2, the DOE genius wrote, "the incident was not an occurrence." I had occasion to show this letter to generally loquacious Chancellor Carranza, who had no comment. We took this all the way to an arbitrator, who sustained that argument. 

I once grieved the fact that we didn't receive full schedules at year's end, as per the UFT Collective Bargaining Agreement. Someone from admin, rather than comply, simply cut up our current programs into strips. They then inserted the strip with the person's name in that person's mailbox. It was cynical, to say the least. People whose terms as deans were ending were getting the jobs again all of a sudden. It was a miracle. 

I took this to arbitration, and the arbitrator, a very curt and loud person, objected when I spoke, saying I ought not to argue with the principal. He then ruled that the practice was fine, and we had to write specific language in an SBO to preclude its use. How the hell can anyone plan when they have phony programs based on nothing but the administration's convenience?

These are just a few examples of the gross incompetence we see every day. The DOE can claim it places "Children First, Always," but at contract negotiations, some DOE bigshot told me straight to my face they had no interest in reducing class sizes, and thus, as far as I could tell, children didn't matter at all. In fact, they only use that slogan to let us know that those of us who do the work don't matter either. Alessandra Biaggi has a theory to explain why the BOE issues exist:


 I can believe that. I can believe it about the DOE as well. It's unlikely any DOE employee who does the actual work could imagine anything else. The dysfunction is palpable. The next mayor will likely as not be a product of this dysfunction, so I'm less than optimistic about any significant changes coming our way.

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