Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Picking a Supervisor

There's a Bronx teacher contending he was passed over for promotion because of his sex. He offers evidence, and will be going to court to make his case. It will be interesting to see what happens.

I've been to many C30 meetings, at least one for almost every administrator in our very large building. That's the process under which principals and assistant principals are selected. We sign documents agreeing not to discuss about what happens in particular meetings, so I'll just discuss the process here.

Basically, a group representing the school community, consisting of teachers, parents, supervisors and a rep from DOE meet. If it's an AP, I ask someone from the department that AP will supervise to come. If it's the principal, that's a wild card. (It happened only once since I've been chapter leader, and I invited a music teacher.)

We agree on questions to ask each candidate, and come to a consensus on both that and who will ask each question. Then the candidates come, we ask the exact same questions of each candidate, and we rate their answers. We then add the scores together, and determine who scores highest, lowest and in between.

These meetings take hours. Of course it depends on how many candidates there are, and how long it takes us to conduct our business and tally scores. For an assistant principal, the principal kind of runs the meeting. For a principal, they bring in some Very Important Person from the DOE. We, the committee, make our recommendations.

After that, the principal, or the Very Important Person, takes our recommendations, and does something or other with them. I guess it would be unfair for me to say the person then just does any damn thing with them. If would be much more reasonable to say the person takes our recommendations into consideration before making a final decision.

So then, the question becomes just how fair the process is. Since we've asked all the same questions with no variation, we didn't really treat anyone differently. However, you only get to ask these questions of candidates selected by either the principal or the Very Important Person. Anyone who doesn't make that cut isn't heard at all.

The question then becomes this--does the school community truly have a voice, or is this a pro forma exercise? I suppose the only way to get a genuine answer would be to look into the soul of the principal or Very Important Person who makes the final decision. I mean, you could simply ask, but that would be a violation of the rules. You're sworn to secrecy. In any case, cynics might suggest that even principals or Very Important People might tell a fib now and then.

Of course, Lily Tomlin says no matter how cynical you get, you just can't keep up.

In the United States, we all go out and vote. After that, Donald Trump becomes President even though We, the People, chose otherwise. Here in NYC, we have a fake school board called the PEP. They get together, hold meetings, and the public gets up to speak. After that, the PEP votes any damn way the NYC Mayor says, because that's what mayoral control is. Then we have this C30, where we get together and make a choice, in full knowledge it can be roundly ignored.

It's the American way, evidently.

It's odd, though, because all the supervisors who are picked via that system are expected to follow the Danielson Rubric when rating teachers, which values student engagement pretty much above all else. Though I do not subscribe to the Danielson Rubric as used, I personally value student engagement a great deal. It's what I'm looking for every day.

It's ironic, because the system that mandates Danielson is a top-down piece of crap that contradicts virtually everything it claims to stand for. It's not coincidence that so many supervisors have no idea what their jobs entail, to wit, supporting teachers. They manage to get promoted anyway.
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