Friday, September 07, 2018

Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training--Highly Effective, or Just High?

A lot of members in my building were upset by an email saying there was mandatory sexual harassment training. However, it turns out it isn't sexual harassment training at all, but rather sexual harassment prevention training. So if, for example, you don't know anything about sexual harassment, you need not study it beforehand.

Here's what I saw when I tried to connect to it:

I had planned to take the thing and report back. But seeing that message, I decided the hell with it. Who knows what evil lurks in the DOE website? And who wants to find out firsthand? Not me.

This notwithstanding, it's a tough message to understand, and a lot of members asked me about it. I've put out feelers to the UFT about what "mandatory" really means. As far as I can tell, if you don't take the course, you will not receive the certificate that says you took the course. Thus, there will be one more piece of paper you'll never be able to hang on your wall. As far as I can tell, there is no other consequence, but you never know what Tweed will do. They don't think like us, you know.

Some of my colleagues are telling me I got the warning because I don't have a DOE laptop, but I don't know. I was on the DOE wifi when I saw it. I suppose I could wrestle my colleagues over one of the hard-wired computers in the office. Some of them look stronger than me, though. And who knows if they have martial arts training or whatever? In fact I carry this little laptop precisely so I won't need to do that. (I also carry it to utilize tech in my classroom, but none of the tech in my classroom works.  The DOE can't be bothered with that, let alone providing a classroom bigger than a closet.)

Let's forget about all the idiotic obstacles the DOE is throwing in my path for a moment. It doesn't take very much to dissuade me from doing things I don't really want to do. Nonetheless, what if I really needed it? Let's say Harvey Weinstein is my co-teacher. Does anyone really believe that a 45-minute online whatever is gonna turn him around?

The New York City Department of Education does, evidently. If only Harvey had sat for this webinar, or whatever the hell it is, none of this would've happened, or it would at least have come to a dead stop. This is kind of remarkable. People spend years in therapy to deal with their issues, but the DOE can write 45 minutes of something and cure them instantly. They are Highly Effective, simply because they are the sole arbiters of what is and is not Highly Effective.

Next on their list of Activities Designed to Save the World is diversity training. Once that happens, that teacher who stands up in the teacher cafe to sing Deutchland Uber Alles will never do it again. Those people who hate those other people will stop. Who cares if they've been mindless bigots since they were children? Once the DOE gets to show them a PowerPoint, prejudice and racism will be a thing of the past.

Obviously, like sexual harassment, bigotry is an issue. And obviously, we should address it. I'd venture, though, that these are issues that ought to be addressed on a much larger scale. This is particularly important when the President of the United States sees good people "on both sides" when one side is nazis. It's particularly important when our president is a self indulgent juvenile who thinks women are placed on earth for his amusement. It's particularly important when our government is so rampantly xenophobic it separates children from their parents, who are likely as not fleeing for their lives. It's particularly important when racist galoots from coast to coast feel empowered to spout their vitriol everywhere in the name of Making America Great Again.

I may be cynical, but I don't see how spending 45 minutes with the great minds who fight to keep class sizes above contractual limits is going to reverse negative attitudes. I don't hate people for their skin color, sex, nationality, or religion. Ask me what I think, though, when I say, "There are 57 oversized classes at Francis Lewis High School," and the lawyer across the table responds, "There are zero."

Ask me privately, please. For all I know, my students may be reading this blog.
blog comments powered by Disqus