Thursday, January 13, 2022

Banks to Parents: Nag UFT Chapter Leaders to Livestream

It's one thing to send happy-go-lucky letters to terrified teachers working a pandemic, while offering them no support whatsoever. It's one thing to make us come to work in a raging snowstorm without even noting that it's a beautiful day and Macy's is open. But Chancellor David Banks has just demonstrated, pretty conclusively, that he hasn't got a clue what actually goes on in a classroom.

Banks has said he's open to a virtual option, which he and his predecessors should have been planning before Carranza left his wife and ran off with an overpaid staffer he'd hired. But now he's getting serious about it, and looking to do this in the very worst way I can imagine. I take Banks to be anti-union, and the first clue is right here:

“If I could figure out a way to do a remote option starting tomorrow I would … It’s not quite as simple as that because you have to negotiate this stuff with the unions.”

Gee, how inconvenient it must be to not be Master of the Universe, despite the fact that your boss has "swagger," and you are "soaring high." This, to me, suggests that it's inconvenient for this chancellor to actually talk to us, the people who do the actual work in this city. When Adams talks about "my" city, and "my" schoolchildren, and "my" low skill workers, then blabbers about swagger, I get the feeling he doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself. I get that impression about Banks too, particularly when I read this:

Banks also encouraged parents to talk with their school’s union chapter leaders to press for a remote option.

This sounds to me like a violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Banks does not represent working teachers, not matter what the voices in his head may announce. Banks' job entails negotiating with us, not trying to get parents to nag us to do what he wants. A chapter leader's job is tremendously demanding, and Banks has no right to mess with them like that.

I wrote that half in jest, but it's really not at all far from the truth. Here, in fact, is what Adams wants parents to come to school and scream at our overburdened chapter leaders about:

Banks hinted that one way to resolve that dilemma would be for teachers to livestream their classrooms, a model that educators have said is challenging to pull off — challenges that Banks acknowledged. The city’s current agreement with the teachers union prohibits schools from requiring teachers to livestream their classrooms. Banks said officials are meeting with the teachers union this afternoon.

“That’s my first goal was to say, ‘Can we turn that agreement around and just do a livestream and let kids just participate in the class?’” he said.

I'm always amazed at the reporting in Chalkbeat. If someone is reformy enough, they'll attribute subtlety where none exists. Banks "hinted," they write. He did NOT hint. He said out loud that he wants us to not only deal with COVID, with our own stress and that of the live students we are serving, but also with people on the computer. Of course these live students won't be required to show their faces, so we'll all be back to asking questions of cat pictures and anime figures.

When we ask the live kids to raise their hands, we should ask the ones online to, I don't know, send an annoying beeping sound through the school computers, assuming they even work.

That's a rather large assumption. I could not use tech one period today because the monitor didn't recognize my computer. Are we going to get letters in file for computers breaking down? Does Banks actually believe NYC has an internet system that will permit every teacher to livestream every class? The man is laboring under an enormous misconception.

Here is what Banks wants, plain and simple. First, he wants to negotiate a union agreement in public, because that precludes his having to do his actual job. He also shows he has no respect for us by announcing to the press and public what he wants rather than negotiating. He evidently hopes gullible parents will nag us enough so we just do Whatever He Wants. More importantly, with an evident total lack of imagination, he wants to expend little or no energy in planning this option. After all, he hasn't planned a thing since November, so why start now? Let's just stick a laptop in every classroom and hope for the best. 

Banks should've been working on this for months. It was pretty common knowledge he was pegged for chancellor. Someone should inform the chancellor that the pandemic did not, in fact, magically appear on January 1st, right after Adams took the oath of office. 

If Banks wants a remote option, he needs to actually negotiate it with us. We are the UFT, and we don't jump when you click your fingers, no matter how high you think you're soaring.

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