Monday, April 06, 2020

DOE Takes a Page from Trump's Playbook

A whole lot of teachers have spent the last week freaking out. I'm one of them, and it's tough to imagine a more appropriate reaction to the barrage of bad news, first from Albany and then from NYC.

UFT members, along with educators statewide, had  a scheduled Easter break pulled from under us. Our understanding with the city was this would not include this coming Thursday and Friday, holy days for Christians and Jews. Of course, that means nothing to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who gets his chauffeur to take him to Prospect Park, holiday or no, quarantine or no.

Those of us who haven't got chauffeurs are in a different place altogether. As though taking on an entirely new process with virtually no training were not enough, a few days ago the DOE declared we were to all use Microsoft Teams or something. I actually tried and was unable to use it. Our school has Google based addresses and I'd have needed to sign up with my unwieldy DOE email account.

In any case, the city has since backed down a bit on its edict. Evidently we are to wean ourselves away from Zoom, and don't need to drop it instantly. I can't even remember where I heard that. One place I have NOT heard it is in my DOE email. The chancellor has the ability to send every DOE employee and email, but evidently that's too much trouble. Why? I cannot fathom. Now

Also, as you can see in the tweet above, you may continue to use Google products. That will be a relief to my colleagues, most of whom are using Google classroom, yours truly among them. However, this info has yet to reach my DOE email. In fact, if you wanted to see this tweet, it wasn't particularly easy to find.

What would make anyone think that a tweet is an efficient way to announce public policy? Doesn't it behoove our top leader to communicate vital information with us? Shouldn't that be done in a way that makes absolutely sure we receive the info?

 Now it's hard to imagine this reached a whole lot of people, and it's even harder to imagine why anyone would see fit to use Twitter as a forum to announce official policy. How many teachers are scrambling even as we speak to find a substitute for Zoom? How many actually think they can no longer use Google?

While it may have been artificially normalized to some small extent by Donald Trump (not my role model of choice), the policy of announcing official policy via Tweet is crazy. I have no idea what the chancellor's thought processes are, but I can tell you what they are not. Clearly communicating policy with every working teacher is not a huge priority.

I understand he also held a press conference yesterday, or perhaps was part of the mayor's press conference. I don't know about you, but I no longer watch these things. I know the situation is bad, I know it's getting worse, and I don't need to listen to politicians and their daily bloviation to know it. In fact, I don't even want to see the highlights on the local news.

And there are a million reasons others may have missed it. Teachers, for example, are likely to have been feverishly prepping for lessons they have little or no means of delivering. Why the chancellor has yet to figure that out is anyone's guess.

Nonetheless, this is no way to communicate with teachers. Imagine if we communicated with students like this. Of course we would not, and we don't need master's degrees to know how ridiculous this is.

Common sense tells you this is nonsense. Among popular political figures these days, common sense is the least common of all the senses.

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