Thursday, May 31, 2018

College Teachers Issuing High School Credit

In my school, we have several College Now courses. What a great deal. You take one class, and you get not only a high school credit, but also a college credit. Sign me up! What's not to like?

Well, there are a few things, actually. One is you might have 40 students in a College Now class. I wouldn't know this except that I count class sizes several times a year, and often the English class with 35 kids in it is a College Now class. The NYC Department of Education, which puts Children First, Always, sits across from me and tells me it's exempt from the contractual class size limit.

It's a college course, they say. We don't need any of your frivolous rules and regulations. Kids need to learn what it's like to be in obscenely huge classes. It will build character. They'll learn how to sit down, shut up, and be anonymous. It's a WIN-WIN!

Of course I don't actually see it that way. I don't actually believe it does college students any more good to be in oversized classes than it does high school students. I was fortunate in that most of my college classes were not in huge lecture rooms and I was able to participate in class discussions. But I guess it's good to learn how to function in a huge room with hundreds of participants, even though it goes against everything I've ever been asked to do as a high school teacher, and even though it's totally contrary to everything demanded in Danielson.

Of course these classes aren't rated by Danielson, because even though Danielson is the bestest thing ever, these are College Now classes. They meet a higher standard than mere piddling high school classes. Except, of course, that's absolutely untrue.

First of all, allowing oversized classes reflects a lower standard, not a higher one. Ignoring what New York City has deemed to be the bestest way to rate what's desirable in a classroom means that standard, whatever you may think of it, will not be upheld in that classroom. But that's not even the biggest part.

The biggest issue with College Now was one I discovered earlier this year, when I found a health class with 39 students. This can't be right, I thought. But no, it turns out it's a College Now class. Most of our College Now classes were taught by teachers in our building, or retired teachers who used to be in our building.

This one, it turns out, was taught by a college teacher. Is the college teacher certified to teach high school? No. Has this teacher been trained as we have? Has the teacher received PD? Was this teacher schooled in the all-important Right to Know? Is this teacher informed on Chancellor's Regulations? Has the host school given any training whatsoever to this teacher?

No, no, no, no, and so forth and so on.

Do you know what the regulations are to get a job as a college teacher? I'll tell you. The regulation is you have to get someone to hire you. When I taught at Queens College you needed a Master's Degree in TESOL or something related to work at the English Language Institute, but when they couldn't find someone who met the standards, they hired someone in the Master's program. I know because that's how I found out about the job. I went and asked for one, but they wouldn't hire me until I got my MA. (In their favor, they kept me around for 20 years. It was only when I became chapter leader that it became too much.)

So in my school, we have uncertified, non-UFT members teaching our kids. Hey, maybe they'll do a good job. Who knows? But honestly, why do we need all this training, why do we need to pass all these tests, why do we need to follow Danielson, why do we need to make tenure portfolios, why do we need to put up with Boy Wonder supervisors when they can just take anyone, qualified or not, stick them in a classroom, and say, "Poof. You're the teacher."

I've filed a grievance. We'll soon learn whether state and city regulations apply only to us, or to everyone working in a UFT school.
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