Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Distributive Law

Some people ask why I am so pissed at the UFT/Unity operation. Amongst many reasons is the fact that if the UFT had taken an early stand against the assault on the neighborhood schools - at all levels, but in particular the high schools, there was a chance to kill the ed deform closing/opening/closing/multiple schools in a building policy in its infancy. Having attended the Sheepshead Bay HS closing hearing last night (video coming) reinforced my reaction today. I told this to UFT Brooklyn Borough Rep Howie Shore as I handed him a leaflet with good talking points about how closing ANY school is bad policy. That only if the UFT had been able to look ahead -- like so many progressive people were able to do ... well, that's spilt milk.

Having been out of schools for the last 8 years or so other than UFT election time, today was the first opportunity in this election cycle I had to get to schools to put MORE election materials in mailboxes. I started at the school on my corner where despite showing an AP the letter giving us permission she told me: "we cannot let you put things in the mailboxes. Give it to me and the chapter leader will do it."

I explained I couldn't do that since there were different caucuses in the union and she might not be interested in handing out our info. Then she tried: "I'll have a school aide do it." I explained that the DOE doesn't want its employees being used on school time to do a chore like this which is why they give us permission. She still refused. "I'll have Tweed give you a call," I said. A slight look of panic on her face. "I'll be beck," I said in my best Arnold voice.

I then headed to Beach Channel High School campus where there are 5 schools located. Until you roam through one of these institutions you just don't get a complete picture of the disaster the Bloomberg multiple-schools-in-one building has become. After going through metal detectors I ran into an ICE/MORE supporter, one of the 19 remnants at Beach Channel, who said he'd do the leaflets for that school. Great. Now how to find the other schools. Most people didn't seem to know just how many schools were in the building or where they were if they did. I ran into loads of security people sitting in all the hallways who had little idea. BCHS campus is a massive 3 story building that used to be chock full of all kinds of activities going on as all comprehensive high schools used to have. Now it looks so empty with little visible signs of activity but little pockets for each school as I tracked them down one at a time. Every single person I met was extremely cooperative and friendly and I did all the schools in about a half hour.

I had a great conversation with one secretary. We knew many people in common and did some Sandy talk.

There were 2 secretaries in each of the schools and we talked about workload and how when a school like BC had 10-12 secretaries there was an efficient division of labor. Now each pair had to do all the work. Imagine: paying 5 principals and their APs and who knows how much duplication of work? And some people think Bloomberg is a great business manager? I told the secretary that just as ATT was broken up and then has recombined into basically 2 companies, one day all these fragmented schools will start merging or absorbing each other and we will find ourselves back with large schools.

Then it was on to the local middle school across the street, now transformed into a 6-12 school competing with the 5 high schools at BC. Already one of them that opened just a few years ago and was flying high is suffering from the attrition as this top rated 6-12 school draws some of their best students. (Makes sense to many parents to leave their child in one school for 6 years). But imagine: 6 high schools within 200 feet of each other. Of course this hard to get into 6-12 school can't take most kids, so there have to be other schools that will be forced to. Thus, the reinforcement of a dual school system – for both students and teachers – think of the different conditions teachers face in the schools with different populations. And they could be in schools down the hall or across the street. I mean, how crazy is this?

Then off to another elementary school building with 2 elementary schools competing for the same kids. The former neighborhood school in that building was closed down -- twice in a 5 year period with mostly new teachers each time. I remember going there with GEM leaflets in Jan. 2009 when the school was being closed/phased out for the second time. Really, someone ought to do a book. Or if there are any real investigative ed reporters left in town, an expose on this entire sham.

How interesting that the NY Times does exposes on China but turns its back on its own neighborhood.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tour of school disasters. Someone at Sheepshead Bay told me they already have banners, for a new school, and scaffolding everywhere. New Vision HS I think. They says the sentiment is that nobody cares.

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