Friday, February 28, 2020

Carranza on the Strip

I'm still at the NABE conference in Vegas. Yesterday was a little different for us . There was a meeting where people came and spoke of their work in bilingual education and on the panel was Richard Carranza, chancellor of NYC schools.

I thought this was a great opportunity to ask about Part 154. Regular readers of this blog know that's the state regulation of the bare minimum we have to give English language learners. It's been the scourge of my existence for a few years now.

I told the crowd that this chancellor was very pro-teacher, that I've seen him speak multiple times, and that he loved and respected teachers. I know, the DOE is terrible, and "legal" is a plague from the darkest depths of hell, but this chancellor inherited the Bloomberg machine, the one Mayor de Blasio has yet to lift a finger to change, and the first time he started to get rid of the deadwood he faced lawsuits from people claiming they were discriminated against for being white.

I told the chancellor that I knew teachers with 5 6, or 9 co-teachers, that it was untenable, and that this was beneficial to neither students nor teachers. I told him I was very lucky to be in a school that overserved ELLs, that I had an AP and a principal who were not crazy, but that a whole lot of my colleagues were not so lucky.I also told him that if our school lost Title One funds, which we make by the skin of our teeth, that would no longer be the case. I told him I understood that the state regulation was not his fault, and asked what he could do to make sure ELLs got the support they needed.

The chancellor said he supported our school's policy of overserving ELLs, and referred us to couple of his subordinates to meet. We met them in a courtyard outside the hotel and everyone had stories. Some had trouble getting materials, some had crazy supervisors. The crazy supervisor issue in NYC is endemic. Michael Bloomberg ran a "Leadership Academy" that encouraged outright hostility toward those of us who committed the egregious offense of teaching New York's children.

I told them it was impossible to deal with that many co-teachers. Honestly, I wouldn't adjust my lesson plans to accommodate someone who was coming into only one of my classes twice a week. I probably teach that class from Monday to Friday two or three times a day. The co-teacher has an even worse issue if she has 6 to 10 co-teachers. One teacher in our group actually had 8, and was getting used to it.

I don't think anyone should have to get used to having 8 co-teachers. I told the chancellor's people that this was an act of principals who wanted to be in compliance but didn't give a golly gosh darn whether or not the ELLs learned anything. Back when my grandparents came to America, we sent them to school and it was sink or swim. They were young and picked it up. I hear a lot of people tell stories about how their grandparents came here with nothing and did okay. God bless them all.

It's a different world now, though. We know a lot more now than we did a hundred years ago. It's a disgrace and a shame that the geniuses in Albany have set the bar so low for ELLs. Enacting Part 154 has been a disaster for the last five years. Fortunately for the Regents, parents of my students are largely terrified by ICE and are not likely to protest en masse.

That's no excuse for treating children like this, though.
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