Monday, May 25, 2020

How Does It Feel to Be One of the Beautiful Tweedies?

Chancellor Carranza says the budget it cut "to the bone." There's absolutely nothing left at Tweed to be cut. Otherwise, why would they be cutting so much from the classroom?

The city has proposed $827 million in DOE cuts, including slashing school budgets by $285 million. This would reduce arts programs, counselors and social workers in needy districts, and college-prep for high schoolers. The DOE would also put off new classes for 3-year-olds, installation of air conditioners, and rat extermination.

So what is so absolutely vital that our kids need to sit in sweltering, rat-infested classrooms, likely as not during a pandemic?

For those who work in Tweed, there are spiritual considerations. After all, when you're making 200K a year after the budget being cut to the bone, you have other things to think about besides salary. That's why they hired a guru for DOE employees with troubled souls. After all, when DOE employees with big questions need to explore their inner selves, we can't expect them to do so on their own time. After all, the sort of high quality service we've come to expect from them doesn't come easily.

It's not just anyone you can send your college transcripts to who will ask you to send them again because their on the fourth, rather than the sixteenth floor. It's not just anyone who will absolutely lose every single paper you hand deliver unless you get a written receipt. It's not just anyone who will invariably rule against the UFT when black letter contract regulations are violated. Not just any organization could say untimely letters are fine because, "the event was not an occurrence."

So of course, you need to find the right person for a job like that. Of course, you hire a "Director of Mindfulness," and shell out $183, 781 in salary to one Barnaby Spring for doing so. Evidently, this vital job entails informing all the fine people in the DOE about yoga, so that they sit in the proper positions at their desks. After all, when you make almost 200K a year, there's quite a bit of sitting to be done. And while it's certainly true that sitting takes it out of you, there are a lot of other things that being a mindfulness director requires.

One of the first steps Spring took as mindfulness director was to forge a partnership with the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which Forbes in November named among “the best meditation retreats in the world.”

Spring helped arrange for top DOE administrators, including principals, managers, superintendents and deputies, to undergo “leadership resiliency training” at the Berkshires retreat.
Surrounded by 100 leafy acres, Kripalu sits on a hilltop with beautiful views of woodlands, valleys and Lake Mahkeenac. The center offers classes as well as massages and facials, overnight accommodations and a cafe featuring salads and a “Buddha Bar” with legumes, grains and vegetables.

Meanwhile, back on earth, my students are missing school. They miss their friends. They even miss some of their teachers. In fact, about the only thing they don't miss is the school lunch. Surprisingly, they don't have the benefit of a "Buddha Bar." Instead, they get cold pizza, overcooked pasta, and grilled cheese sandwiches in plastic bags.

Instead of beautiful views and valleys, they get crumbling moldy trailers. Instead of massages and facials, they get closets and half rooms. Instead of air-conditioning, they get heat in the summer and rats. This is what happens when the DOE gets to make priorities.

As for the spiritual man himself, I've now heard from multiple sources that he was a much-unloved principal, good only for creating fear and loathing among lowly UFT employees. In fact, he was somehow made an ATR, and I'm suspecting it wasn't because of his sterling leadership qualities. However, one of the really cool things about being a failed principal is you can make the right connections, find a niche that works for you, and go straight from educrat to guru.

Sure it may not actually help students, or teachers, or anyone out here doing the actual work. But the next time someone from the DOE threatens you with harrowing consequences for something that's not remotely your fault, you can rest assured that whatever stress this incident has caused them will be released in the next yoga class up on Lake Mahkeenac
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