Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Keep Your Head Comfortable While in the Guillotine

I recently had the dubious pleasure of meeting an individual whose job it is to go to closing schools and advise the teachers how to better do their jobs. One teacher I spoke to told me he comes in, walks around, looks at kids' notebooks, and then chides him because the kids don't have enough aims in them. Or he may comment on how much litter there is on the floor. Nonetheless, nothing of any practical assistance is forthcoming from this individual.

So I was surprised to hear him tell someone, "You know, I go into these schools, and they don't appreciate anything. This is why they're in trouble. But they just don't want to hear it."

Actually, I don't blame them. This person's advice is of no value whatsoever. Unless the UFT/ NAACP lawsuit is successful, their schools are toast. This person offers them no way out, and is simply placed there so Bloomberg can pretend he's offering help. I know for a fact that if they really wanted improvement, I (for example) could offer much better advice than this guy, who has considerably less teaching experience than I do.

And the fact is they are most certainly not in trouble for not following his advice, for having too few aims in their notebooks, or for having to much paper on the floor. They're in trouble because they were overloaded with too many special needs kids, because the ESL students need to learn English before they can pass Regents exams, and because kids with learning disabilities need time to overcome them. They're in trouble because Bloomberg's new schools don't often take these kids in the same proportions, and when they do they're just as likely to close as the comprehensive high schools Bloomberg hates so much. It seems to me he's closed almost every high school in the Bronx. If they were all that bad, and he couldn't improve them, what does that suggest about Mayor4Life?

And what does it suggest that he pays pedantic, pompous windbags to traipse about closing schools and offer useless unsolicited advice? It's sad that the man who chose Joel Klein and Cathie Black wouldn't recognize good advice if someone were beating him over the head with it, but there you are.
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