Sunday, June 21, 2020

I Read the Post Today, Oh Boy

Yesterday Sue Edelman wrote about how three 200K administrators were jumping ship amidst a pandemic. The article characterized them as leaving the Titanic, but I see it very differently.

We're hearing all sorts of things about cuts to actual instruction in the fall, dire cries of budget woes and the need to balance a budget. If the three of these desk jockeys make 600K between them, I'd characterize their exit as a good start.

In fact, right in the article there are pretty good arguments about why one of the three, Cheryl Watson-Harris, is a more than welcome departure:

On her resume, Watson-Harris has boasted “record gains” in NYC test scores in math and English under her watch, a claim testing expert Fred Smith disputed.

Despite Carranza’s disdain for NYC’s selective schools that screen applicants, Watson-Harris enrolled her own children in elite and less diverse schools, The Post reported.
Is this really the sort of person we need on payroll? I'm not a huge fan of this, "Do as I say, not as I do," philosophy. And after benefiting from outrageous privilege, Ms. Watson-Harris appears to have padded her resume and stabbed the chancellor in the back. With friends like that, who needs to pay them 200K a year in times of austerity?

In fact, I'd argue Ms. Watson-Harris personifies the primary issue teachers face at the DOE. She feels entitled to do whatever works for her and her family. She has no issue using her position to get preferential treatment unavailable to most New Yorkers. This is not how you lead, and people like this are precisely what drags our system down.

Every teacher in New York city knows an administrator who fails to follow rules, but demands absolute fealty and blind faith from UFT members. Every teacher knows an administrator who resorts to petty vindictiveness at the drop of a hat. In case that's not enough, there's an entire legal department whose sole purpose is to deliberately misinterpret and misrepresent the contract so as to allow principals to weasel out of following it. Every single one of those tinhorn lawyers should be gone before one cent is pulled from the classroom.

The real crime here is not that NYC is sinking. (It isn't. New York City teachers perpetually face outrageous challenges and meet them over and over.)  The problem is that Bloomberg's ghost infects Tweed like a cancer. I've read the contract and I frequently go back to refer to it. Are city administrators too stupid to do that? Do they really need all those lawyers to read it for them, even as we inflict very similar Common Core reading exercises on our hapless students? If that's the case they should be fired too. "Legal" is an abomination. Furthermore, it's borderline criminal  that the money-sucking administrators cited by the Post are being replaced. We have a partial hiring freeze, and we could use this money to hire real teachers who actually do the work.

If the chancellor wants to really do some good, he'll have a party, virtual or otherwise, to celebrate their departure. Then, he'll make a list of all the Bloomberg leftovers stinking up Tweed and dump them all. Whatever this chancellor's flaws, he's not part of that crowd.

I can't meet two chapter leaders without hearing at least one tale of outrageous administrative behavior. Anyone who follows Sue Edelman is familiar with at least a few of the most flagrant instances.  There's a lot of fat to be cut out of our system.

Virtually none of it is in the classroom.
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