Sunday, January 16, 2022

Banks "Remote" Plan--Do Nothing, Blame Individual Schools and UFT Teachers

I was wondering what DOE Chancellor David Banks would do about offering remote, since he found negotiating with us, his actual job, to be so inconvenient. Last night, Susan Edelman wrote up the chancellor's plan

Here's what it is--you know how you get a few office hours to help out the kids who are home recuperating from COVID? If your principal chooses, and if you choose, you will now be able to meet with not only those students, but also the ones who are home for whatever reason. So it won't be just ten days. Evidently, this will last as long as the students, or their families, feel like it. 

Not only that, but if students look at your Google Classroom, and perhaps meet with you on your ever-more-crowded "office hour," they will be marked present, just like those students who actually show up. So what is the motivation for a kid to show up? Banks hasn't considered that, or more likely chooses not to as he scrambles for ways to prop up the miserable attendance stats facing him, as a result of the de Blasio intransigence and Banks' utter failure to do anything about it.

What I will say about remote learning is that it is better than nothing, Beyond that, I can't really endorse it. If the choice is be safe or not, unlike Banks, I'd opt to be safe. However, in my school, I'm not at all sure that's a thing these days:


I'm told there is an "investigation" going on, as hundreds of people in our building continue to get sick. I picture a bunch of Tweedies siting around a desk drinking coffee, and talking about how their mothers scored them these great gigs sitting around with coffee. In six months, maybe, we'll get a report. Meanwhile, last I heard, there are no actual closures in Fun City.

I gotta say, I'm not feeling the love from our esteemed chancellor. It's nice that he offers an option for students to stay home, but we don't have one. Is the chancellor saying that "Children First, Always, means their safety is important, but ours is not? Is he saying that school, which Mayor Eric Adams repeatedly claims to be the safest place to be, is not the safest place to be after all? Clearly a good number of families have arrived at that conclusion, and given that 775 kids in our building brought home COVID, it's hard to dispute that. 

This notwithstanding, there are other issues inherent in this move that are really disturbing. It's one thing to help out kids who must be absent for a week or two with a makeshift solution. It's quite another to take a makeshift solution and make it virtually permanent. In our school, for example, administration has asked us to put a moratorium on testing for now. This is reasonable, given the huge volume of students stuck home by COVID. It's inconvenient, though. And making it permanent would be even more inconvenient. Or should we just test the students in our classrooms and let the ones who choose to stay home slide?

That's just one more thing the chancellor hasn't bothered to consider. However, this plan is deliberate. For example, if my school chooses to enact this "plan" and yours does not, you'd better believe your principal will be besieged with calls from angry parents asking why the hell their kids can't stay home all year, have their smart girlfriends do their homework for them, and get full credit for attendance.

That's not even the worst aspect. The worst is that Banks is pitting teacher against teacher. If this is optional, I am absolutely not going to offer makeshift nonsense for some students and full instruction for others. My colleague may see things differently. Therefore, I must be terrible teacher who hates children. A parent with kids at home could call my principal and ask why I am so mean and awful.

A parent could call your principal with the same complaint. Should your principal be one of those many who lack character or judgment, you could be subject to pressure or harassment. Make no mistake, that is precisely what David Banks wants.  The buck does not stop at the desk of this chancellor. David Banks will sit in his office with HEPA filters, eat lunch at his desk while you eat it in your car, if at all, and continue to tell parents to bother UFT chapter leaders if they don't like the way things are going. 

Banks is not a leader. He's a finger-pointer in the proud tradition of ex-President Donald J. Trump. Alas, these days, it's fast becoming the American Way.

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