Friday, May 20, 2011

UFT to the Rescue?

In Long Island City High School Wednesday night, there was a PEP meeting. I was very surprised when Chancellor Dennis Walcott got up and spoke of a UFT lawsuit. Walcott decried the timing of the lawsuit, citing the inconvenience it would cause kids planning to go to school in September. This was the first I'd heard of it.

Now Walcott is absolutely correct that this suit will inconvenience the kids. Of course, closing their schools didn't exactly help them very much either. If Walcott is truly concerned about these kids, he can simply stop closing schools, start fixing them, and the mean old UFT will leave him alone.

Meanwhile, I know for a fact the city is doing nothing to help closing schools. They send people who give ridiculous useless criticism and pay them big bucks, while improving facilities only in parts of the building the endangered schools have already given up. They pay lip service, but nothing more.

Walcott is a gifted speaker, a smart person, and personally, a large improvement over his two predecessors. Nonetheless, he's determined to carry on destructive and hurtful policies that benefit no one but charter operators looking for extra space. I applaud the UFT for taking them on, and strongly suspect this wouldn't be happening unless they'd thought things through more deeply than the Tweedies, who have all the management skills of the Keystone Kops, pictured at right. Those are the much-vaunted New York State test scores you see slipping away from them.

I only hope the city will finally be compelled to take responsibility for what it classifies as such a massive failure. Whose fault is it if every Bronx high school had to close, or be restructured, or redesigned, or whatever it is they call whatever it is they do? In fact, if there's that much failure after almost a decade, it's time for heads on high to start rolling.

As well as Walcott speaks, he's been part and parcel of every act this administration has taken. If he's as smart as he appears, it's very difficult to conceive of how he could sincerely believe Tweed is on the right track. If they really want to improve education, they will stop vilifying teachers. Unfortunately, while Walcott's pledge to stop trashing us in public is a nice gesture, he'll need to also match it with deeds.

With overcrowding rampant, with people fighting tooth and nail over limited space, with a 3.2 billion dollar surplus, a 2 billion rainy day fund, and a billion in ed. consultants, it's plainly unconscionable to even contemplate laying off one single teacher. So, Mr. Walcott, we'll give you a chance.

But it's time to walk the walk. In the very likely event that doesn't happen, it's time for the UFT to save what's left of the school system.
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