Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Imperial Principals and Double Standards

Principals could do no wrong in Joel Klein's Universe, and when Bill de Blasio came into power, he left Joel Klein's Universe utterly intact. He even brought back Carmen Fariña, who was somehow supposed to represent change even though she'd played part in JKU. I primarily recall Fariña as the worst weather forecaster of all time, but it's significant that she failed to move any of Klein's deadwood out of Tweed.

Thus you find stories like this one, of principals who do the most awful things, keep their jobs for years, and when finally caught, are reassigned to shuffle papers somewhere at full salary. Nice work if you can get it. Teachers caught committing such acts would go to 3020a and lose their jobs. I've seen people lose their jobs for far less.

Many more problematic administrators manage to fly under the radar. Every teacher knows the stories. Every teacher knows who the abusive administrators are. Of course not all of them are Harvey Weinstein. But you really don't have to be sexually abusive to be callous, cruel, or stupid. And even if you are, being reported in the press once or twice is not necessarily enough to get you moved. Who even knows how many have not yet been reported at all?

I can think of several principals who need to be removed right now. Some of them have been in the papers, but evidently that's not enough for the DOE to take action. It's different for lowly UFT members. We can be accused of virtually anything, be it true, false, or a product of a voice in a supervisor's head and there you go--a letter in your file. Stack the letters high enough and it's 3020a--they try to fire you.

Most people don't get fired. Most people get fined a few thousand bucks for minor or meaningless infractions, and are then placed in the Absent Teacher Reserve. That's still a win for the principal who put the person up on charges. That principal doesn't have to deal with that individual anymore.

I would fare very poorly in the ATR. A central facet of my daily life is being a teacher and I hate to sub. I do it twice a year, as the contract requires, and I'll cover for my friends in a pinch. But I just hate it. I don't love dealing with people who don't know me and who feel obliged to test me. I like to get that over with in September.

I've seen the ATR do terrible things to some people. After floating around in it for a while, they aren't who they used to be. I'll spare you specifics, but it does something to you. I also know people who've learned to deal with it very well, people who've made it a life project of some sort, but I only know a handful of such people.

I'm not sure exactly what to do with abusive principals, but I'd argue giving them jobs at Tweed doing crossword puzzles and going out to gala luncheons would be far from my first preference. It's funny that we get dragged through the mud on such a regular basis for our supposedly cushy working conditions, yet principals have it so much better.

There are a few reasons for that. One is that there are so many more of us than there are of them. Another is that we're a female-dominated profession and America is rapidly moving back to the nineteenth century. Equal rights? Fairness? Reason? Due process? What do any of those things have to do with Making America Great Again? Also, a whole lot of education reporting doesn't bother to consult with those of us who actually do the educating.

I'm chapter leader of a very large school. We have some administrators I'd certify Not Insane, and no, I'm not naming names. Still, the most frequent complaints I get are about administration. It's rare that's not the case, and it ought to be the exception rather than the rule.

If I were Chancellor Richard Carranza, I'd get right to work changing that culture. Of course I'm just a lowly teacher, so I'll deal with the hand I'm dealt.

But I'll do my bit to change that culture anyway.
blog comments powered by Disqus