NYC School Chancellor: Reality Check- When does the idiocy end?
Sir, it is time for a real hard reality check for you and your administrators.
Please show NYC UFT teachers a floor plan of an honestly functional "typical size" NYC classroom that has:
- 30-35 desks and chairs - arranged in cooperative groups (remember- larger children have larger furniture)
- A teacher's desk and chair
- A work space for an Educational Assistant. All adults deserve a chair. You have a chair, don't you?
- The Famous Rocking Chair
- A Classroom Library with a little space to browse.
- Usable Reading, Math, Writing, and Science "Centers" that are not so crammed together that only one child at a time can fit at them.
- A Word Wall
- A Bulletin Board wall
- A Chalk Board Wall
- A Wall with Windows and
- A Computer area
that allows a logical traffic flow that teachers and children can move around in comfortably. NYC school buildings were just not built for the class sizes we have today. 15-18 child classes are few nd far between. Ah, yes, and what about the classroom with double exposure- 2 walls of windows? That's a whole other problem. It's time for a reality check!
Now, what is all this nonsense that NO store bought decorations allowed in the classroom? Since when are all teachers expected to be graphic designers with professional layout experience. I hope your office has no professionally created artwork or posters. If NYC teachers are expected to waste time doing this, then it follows that you are capable of making all of your own decorations, etc. It's time for a reality check!
Next, how do you "honestly" expect a "GOOD" teacher to always be on the exact item in a plan book as it is scheduled. Whatever happened to the teachable moment? What happens when there is an unexpected disruption? Unlike your fantasy land, real children have bathroom accidents, vomit, and act out sometimes. Administrators are not able to acknowlegde the variables that go into running an real classroom. Why? It is because of petty, ill conceived memos ordering them to enforce such foolishness. It's time for a reality check!
If you ask teachers to anonymously say whether crime in the schools have gone down, they'll say loud and clear- "No!" The only thing that has gone down is reporting lesser infractions than felonies ;) If principals report it, they are harassed. After all, if this was a good principal, there would never be any incidents to report. So the principal must be bad. Everyone is so afraid to speak openly and honestly, that it is simply the only smart career move to stay mute. It is really sad what a reign of terror can do. Who benefits from the silence? Well, the perpetrators and politicians at election time do, not the general school population. It's time for a reality check!
Why do you feel that NYC children are unable to psychologically handle contrasting colors? One could assume that you would never use a colored pencil or pen to make corrections for your assistants to note errors or omissions in your documents. If you use a color other than black or blue, you will ruin the self esteem of your subordinates. Right? Did you have some horrible flashback of seeing an A+ written in RED on a paper of yours in elementary school that put you over the edge? Can teachers use GREEN or PURPLE, or gasp- Orange? I wonder what horrific effect those colors will have on NYC's young minds. How pitifully fragle do you think NYC children are that your supervisors make such mandates as to NEVER use red. Perhaps we should order all textbooks to come only in gray-scale, so bright colors don't scare NYC students. Then on the other hand, did red grade markings keep you from becoming a succesful man? No, it did not. You survived the horror of the RED COMMENT and you are just fine. It's time for a reality check!
Do you leave a simple short clear correction note, for your assistants regarding errors or omissions in your documents? Or do you give a long narrative for each error or omission. Are children unable to comprehend short, concise comments? Teachers are now told to NEVER write on top of a paper- Big Improvement, or Great Work, etc. Children won't know what it means? Does this mean kindergarten, first and second graders will be short changed in their educational experience because, after noting a dozen corrections in proofreading/marking, a short encouraging summary comment was written on the top of the page? Will a cute little sticker saying "Great Work" in a colorful picture (remember rebus?) stunt a child's educational development? Motivation to collect as many stickers with top comments is a bad thing? This micro-management is outrageous. It's time for a reality check!
After all of the above, prep periods and late days are tied up with useless "staff development" meetings, rather than providing time for teachers to implement these very time consuming petty policies. So instead, teachers go home with 3-4 hours of work every night. They are not paid for this extra time and have not had a contract for over 2 years! Do you honestly want to attract the brightest and the best teachers to work here? What ever happend to those imported teachers from Europe that were pranced on the TV a few years ago? Back in Europe. We all know why. Time for a reality check!
It is outrageous to claim that every child has individualized instruction. How many hours do you have in your day? Do you think teachers have more hours in their day than you do? This is just simple mathematics. You have DRASTICALLY cut Educational Assistant positions! Class size is as high as ever. How much individual help do you honestly believe a single teacher with 30-35 students in their class can give? Let's not forget the classes like physical education, music and art where there are upwards of 50 students in a class with one teacher. The self discipline, creativity and self empowerment gained in these classes is indespensible. No child left behind? Time for a reality check!
If you really want to make improvements, monitor the regional beurocrats that micro-manage Teaching Professionals to justify their own positions. Hire genuine caring Education Supervisors who truely support the spirit of quality education. Supervisors run around buildings with tomes of check-off sheets for each teacher, to make sure that every classroom has every possible little item in a prominently visible location, so that just in case someone important comes around, they will be covered, and can prove that they did look in each and every room, and that at the time they were there, everything was in it's proper place. Micro-management to the Nth degree! Sad. How dare supervisors treat teachers as if they were little children that have to have a stern mommy on top of their every move to make sure they put their toys away and don't break the furniture! Wake up sir, your teaching staff is about as demoralized as they can get. This is not a good thing. It's time for a reality check!
You are losing teachers at record quitting and retirement rates, new and experienced teachers alike, because the job of teaching in the New York City School System is not the kind of job they can see themselves commit to for the long term. It is just too stressful and stress kills. If you want to turn off people from teaching in NYC keep it up. No one is foolish enough to think this is a good career move. You will be able to pay lower salaries and save on pension benefits, but you will lose what you have had up to the past few years. Loyal, dedicated, seasoned teachers. It's time for a reality check!
Finally, stop trying to portray a Madison Avenue marketing firm fantasy land smokescreen and demonstrate that you have the ability to deal with classroom reality in an intelligent way. You are not a licensed teacher, but considering your big title, you should still be expected to think like one. After all you are the one everyone is supposed to look up to for genuine leadership.
All New York City Department of Education Teachers are New York State Licensed professionals. It is time to start treating them like the professionsls they are.
That said, isn't enough enough?
Enough is enough!
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