Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Wartime Consigliere

Tough times for NYC. Tough times for us. The mayor is set to let 22,000 city employees go. We haven't faced a crisis like this since 1975. If this happens, if will be a disaster for city schools.

Particularly now, there's simply no way we can sustain a significant drop in the teacher pool. I'm told that, during times of fiscal emergency, a whole lot of contractual regulations fall by the wayside.

The first one is class size. It's remarkable that during a crisis in which we need to physically stay apart from one another anyone would contemplate having fewer teachers. Yet if you let thousands of us go, that will be exactly what happens. I've been all bent out of shape about the ludicrous nature of so-called hybrid learning. That's no longer my concern, because there's no way school buildings are opening at all under these conditions.

My concern now is the new generation of teachers, a great deal of whom will be sacrificed to this crisis. Unless the scumbag GOP decides to bail out the states, we'll be stuck here until Trump and his thugs in the Senate are tossed out on their worthless asses. And ironically, because they fully expect that to happen, they may just happily ignore the entire country and not fix anything, hoping everyone forgets and blames Democrats by 2022.

I started teaching in 1984. NYC was still feeling 1975. I know that because they hired me with no experience or training whatsoever. I saw an ad on a subway train, took a test to determine whether or not I could write in English coherently, and that was it. They sent me to Lehman High School as an English teacher. On my ninth day I was observed, and essentially told I didn't know what I was doing. This was no revelation to me. I'd told them that when they hired me.

I caught on, eventually. Of course not everyone did. When you pull people off the street and say, "Now you're teachers," it's kind of a crap shoot. Do you think NY City kids ought to have teachers chosen like that? Okay YOU. Go stand by that desk and give it your worst. That will be the inevitable conclusion if de Blasio goes forward with this. We'll lose a great many of our smart young teachers, they'll find work elsewhere, and they'll be so disgusted they'll never, ever return.

Mayor de Blasio certainly has his share of blame. When he left us high and dry for a few months on his preposterous presidential push, he spoke of taxing the crap out of millionaires. Yet I don't recall his pushing for such a tax in NY State during that time, or even when he came back with his tail between his legs. You'd think he'd take on Cuomo in an effort to save the city, but you'd be wrong.

The person who's supposed to be standing for New York City's children is Chancellor Richard Carranza. This is his chance to shine. Just days ago he was replacing a few six-figure educrats who we almost certainly didn't need. He also let a bunch of high-needs schools lose a bunch of highly needed guidance counselors. Months ago, he burnished his company credentials by rejecting UFT's plea to close the schools, demanding signatures from 108,000 epidemiologists rather than the 108,000 UFT members who'd signed the petition at that state.

This doesn't bode well for the moment. But I'm not cynical (at least not always). I've seen good in Chancellor Richard Carranza. I've seen him speak eloquently and persuasively of his high regard for educators. Carranza now faces leading a school system through the toughest challenge I've seen since I started back in 1984. Will he rise to the challenge?

If the answer is yes, he'll speak out against Mayor de Blasio's plan. He'll demand that we find cuts elsewhere. He'll demand, even as de Blasio does not, that Andrew Cuomo tax his BFFs no matter how many suitcases of cash they've slipped him in the past. He'll get in front of cameras and spout fire and brimstone over the need to support the 1.1 million children he represents.

If the answer is no, we don't need a chancellor at all, and we can save a few hundred thousand right now by sending him back to Texas.
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