Friday, June 26, 2020

Another Letter from the Chancellor

Dear Colleagues,  

Today is the last day of the most challenging, most intense school year we have ever experienced. You got tossed into the deep end, and I shaved my mustache. Every single one of you confronted major disruptions to your lives, which often imposed great stress on you and your families. And yet I still plan to fire thousands of you so I can hire people here at Tweed for 200K each to join me at gala luncheons.

I am absolutely preening with pride, the proudest professional pride that pricks and prods ponderously at the prickliest of princesses. My gratitude to you runs deep. Console yourself with that after you get those pink slips. Believe me, my well-compensated staff and I will continue to think about you as you toil away at whatever menial jobs you can muster during an active apocalypse.

This school year was divided, of course, between “pre-COVID” and “post-COVID.”  Before the pandemic upended our lives, we opened more pre-K Dual Language programs , Community Schools, and reached record high college enrollment rates . We hope you all remember that stuff as opposed to being sent to work in hotbeds of infection even as we deemed it too risky for rich people to sit in $800 seats to Hamilton. Try not to dwell on how we removed guidance counselors, cut the budget, and made you the most overqualified employee at Kinko's.

You suddenly confronted the enormous challenge of transforming to remote teaching, learning, and working. Many of you. like me, had no idea what you were doing and just hoped for the best. Yet with amazing support from one another, and none whatsoever from us, you all managed to shift to an entirely new way of conducting your work. Believe me, after all that work you did, it isn't easy to just throw you under the bus like this.

The personal toll of the coronavirus on our City, our friends and families, and the DOE itself is tragic. It has left us all struggling with a relentless sense of grief. Fortunately, it hasn't given the mayor or me so much grief that we aren't willing to send those of you we aren't firing right back into the belly of the beast. You got it, those of you who survive our layoffs are going right back into those COVID-infested buildings with 50 kids in a class, just like 1975.

You’ve also had to persevere as our nation has mourned the senseless loss of more Black lives at the hands of those whose responsibility it is to serve and protect, and as voices call for change at the very deepest roots of our society. You have my personal assurance that when we lay you off we will do so with no regard for race, religion, or creed. When you risk your lives in September to teach a handful of masked kids with whom you may not significantly interact, we won't be treating you any better or worse no matter who you are.

We all must disregard the welfare of not only you, but also the students we serve. We will boldly confront systemic inequalities and treat absolutely everyone badly, except wealthy New Yorkers who don't pay their fair share of taxes. I am grateful that our programs will put every non-wealthy person equally at risk of unemployment and death, and that those who simply get sick will do so only on the basis of their tough luck for being sneezed on at an inopportune moment.

If this year has taught us anything, it is that we haven't got a clue what we're doing, but we can always dump the hard work on you. You should know that we are deep into pretending to plan the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year—and we need your thoughts about various issues so we can begin ignoring them ASAP. So please fill out our All-Staff Return to Buildings survey by the end of the day on Monday, June 29.  

We are committed to protecting your health and safety pretty far, but not too far. if you have conditions the CDC says place you at high risk, you don't have to come in. If your loved ones have similar conditions, too bad for them.  Go rent a hotel room or take a leave or something. Not my frigging problem.

Thank you again for your extraordinary work in an extraordinary year, and have a safe and healthy summer!  You'll need it, because come September, only the strong will survive.
In unity,  
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