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Walking Around With a Gun to Your Head

That's how I'd feel if I were working in one of the so-called renewal schools. You have to graduate this many more students by such and such a date. Failure is not an option. Okay, it is an option, but if you exercise it, it's not because the students are impoverished. It's not because they lack homes. It's not because they haven't got health care or food. It's not because they have special needs. It's not because they don't actually speak English. It's not because of the lack of vision of the DOE, which is ready and willing to dump the entire staff.

After all, that proves they are willing to step up. It isn't like they are unwilling to blame the people who go to work every day in these beleaguered institutions. No, they stand right up and say, "You all suck and we aren't afraid to admit it." Then they close the schools and make everyone reapply for their jobs before they sit their asses right back in ergonomic chairs in their air-conditioned offices. Doubtless they discuss their boldness in dealing with the issues at gala luncheons all over the city.

No, the only reason that the school could possibly have a low graduation rate is because, as the mayor and chancellor boldly proclaim, that the UFT members all suck. And again, the DOE, right up to the tippety top are not afraid to stand up and say, "This situation is because you all suck." Otherwise, why would the remedy be having them all reapply for their jobs? That's the underlying logic behind this. Certainly none of the factors I mentioned are addressed in the reshuffling of staff. The only genuine mitigating factor I see in this preposterous exercise is that UFT members have the option of not reapplying, and stepping off of the blame game train.

I applaud this bold approach. It's fantastic that the city is unafraid to step up and blame someone else for everything that goes wrong. There's nothing more American than standing up and declaring, "This is your fault." I have to say, though, that it kind of clashes with the vision Mayor de Blasio laid out when he first ran. I remember the tale of two cities, one inhabited by wealthy demagogues like Michael Bloomberg, and another for, you know, regular people struggling to get by.

This was evident nowhere more than in the wholesale closure of public schools undertaken by the Bloomberg administration. Every high school in the Bronx was terrible, evidently, and needed to be renamed and restaffed. The issue was not that test scores predicted nothing but zip code, even though they did. No, the only reason that a Bronx high school didn't perform as well as Great Neck was not affluence or lack thereof. It was that the teachers sucked and all needed to be made ATRs.

Interestingly, one of the schools in the article is called Automotive High School. I wonder whether they still teach about autos in that school. They used to teach about them in my school, and in the last school I was in. They don't anymore. You see, the goal of high school is to place every student without exception into college. That's because there is no value in trades that don't require college. There's no value in auto repair, or plumbing, or construction, or being an electrician.

The fact that we offer none of our students preparation for trades that don't require higher education is another non-factor in why students don't graduate. It doesn't matter that a whole lot of people in these trades make excellent livings, and it doesn't matter that people attracted to such professions may not excel in the classes the geniuses in Albany have decided everyone has to take.

No, the mayor, the chancellor, and every single apparatchik at the DOE has determined that the only factor that needs addressing is the relative suckiness of UFT members. By shuffling them around like cogs, they will solve each and every outside factor without addressing a single one. Clearly I lack this overarching vision.

That's why I'll never make it as a DOE administrator.


This post first appeared on NYC Educator, please read the originial post: here

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Walking Around With a Gun to Your Head

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