Wednesday, May 27, 2020

BREAKING--Chalkbeat Discovers Teachers on Frontlines, Gets Brand New Charter Leader to Write About It

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I've been speculating on what September will look like for some time. And if you've been on Facebook, Twitter, or following other teacher blogs, you know I'm far from the only person doing that.  

So has the UFT, in fact, and you can see that reflected in multiple meeting minutes recorded right here. Chalkbeat New York seems to follow none of the above. They've just noticed it, and they chose the leader of a non-union charter school who presumes to speak for all of us.

Of course this principal, David Noah, has impressive credentials. You won't really find them in Chalkbeat's cutesy but deceptive little bio paragraph:

David Noah founded Comp Sci High, New York City’s first charter CTE high school, in 2018. Prior, he was a principal in East Harlem as well as a math teacher in Brooklyn and New Haven. He was also a lawyer for a little while, but he doesn’t like to talk about it

Noah's educational career began as an NYC Teaching Fellow, teaching math for a few months or years. Who knows? It doesn't say. He also argued a "landmark" case on some sort of reforminess in Connecticut. What was it? Did he win? No idea. Does he have a degree in school administration? Who knows? But he also worked with KIPP and ran a Moskowitz Academy. Why does Chalkbeat deprive us of that info?

Isn't alignment with Moskowitz and her anti-union, 24/7 test prep philosophy germaine somehow? After all, Chalkbeat is my go-to whenever I want to find out where Eva Moskowitz last sneezed. How much does Noah make for running this school? Who knows? I'd wager it's a lot more than that of my principal, who has a credential and runs the most overcrowded school in the city.

The revelation of Noah's article, evidently, is that teachers will be on the front lines this September. It has occurred neither to Chalkbeat nor Noah that we're on the front lines all the time. We were on the front lines before the pandemic, we were on the front lines as de Blasio sent us into it after having closed Broadway, we're there now, and of course we'll be there in September.

You'd think no teacher was considering what September would look like. You'd think UFT had not had multiple meetings discussing it. You'd think the minutes for most or all those meetings were not recorded right here. You'd think that a good half-dozen of my colleagues were not meeting with our principal this very afternoon to discuss this. Maybe you'd think we were all waiting for some charter leader to face-slap himself and make a submission to Chalkbeat.

That said, I'll grant you that Mr. Noah has a keen perception of the obvious, and it's certainly helpful that Chalkbeat gives him a platform to tell us what every working teacher and thinking parent already knows.

And hey, if you want to work for Noah, he's hiring. There are a few links you can check about their beliefs, and their model. However, it says nothing about working hours. It says nothing about pay. There is a statement that 100% of their students will go to college. That frequently means that 100% of the students who aren't weeded out, dropped out, thrown out, or "got to go" end up in college. It also calls their teachers "empowered." In my work, every single time I have heard anyone use that word, it has meant precisely the opposite.

If you want to work in a job with no contract, no tenure, and a decidedly uncertain future, you should apply. As far as I can tell, the school's been around for no more than two years, as there is not yet a grade 11 or 12. It's co-located at James Monroe "Campus" in the Bronx. A commenter says it has metal detectors, if that makes a difference to you.

And hey, if you want our children to grow up and have jobs where they can arbitrarily and capriciously be fired, where they cannot organize to collectively bargain, where they are judged by test scores or other arbitrary standards that may or may not be valid, keep supporting charter schools. Maybe you can get a piece of the bonanza Eva Moskowitz found for herself, and maybe you too can pull in almost a million bucks a year exploiting working people and hapless children.

If you do, you can be sure Chalkbeat will write about it. Meanwhile, those of us on the ground actually doing the work will be figuring out what the overwhelming majority of New York's children and teachers will do come September.
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