Monday, April 23, 2007

Tweed school budget plan is NOT about shifting quality teachers to struggling schools...

David Bloomfield, a parent, a Professor at Brooklyn College and President of the Citywide Council on High Schools, in a powerful summary of his opposition to the agreement between the Mayor and the UFT-led coalition, has one statement that I feel needs some elucidating. Read his full comment below my analysis.

When Bloomfield says....

"One of the best mayoral initiatives – equalizing school funding and the distribution of quality teachers – has been left in tatters" ...

.....I'm concerned he and others might be misled by the rhetoric coming out of Tweed and City Hall. The irony of the entire mayoral initiative on the school funding issue has been missed by many. While claiming to want distribute “quality” teachers - and I would take issue that a 20 year teacher is necessarily more adept than say a 5 or 7 year teacher - the reality has been that attempts to drive senior teachers from the system have taken place in many schools.

In fact, many of us saw the funding plan for what it was -- an attempt to create a system of “peace corps” teachers who stay no longer than 5 years by giving principals a further incentive to drive senior teachers out. Just think: low salaries, docile teachers who don’t know their union rights, few pensions, etc. The mantra is to teacher-proof the process in an assembly line manner and use professional development (often by non-public organizations - see the 9 whatever they call it groups) to train a constantly turning over staff.

The idea that they want to distribute “quality” teachers is a sham because they could have done so by offering incentives to teachers to teach in certain areas. (When I started teaching in the late 60’s they gave every teacher in Title 1 schools extra free time to prepare/recover.)

If you remove teacher salaries from the equation, what other areas has the DOE been able to point to for other inequalities in funding? And since Tweed has total control, what has stopped them from moving money around over the last 5 years to change this? The current reorganization has been unilateral until now and will be so again. This is all about politics, as usual, not education. But it was never about education in the first place."

Note: We hear the "teacher quality" argument used by Klein to argue against class size reductions,ironically today by Michael Rubel, a top Randi Weingarten ally. How come they never talk about "teacher quality" as it relates to teachers coming under attack in so many quarters and how quality is affected by the consequential resulting exodus that makes crossing the Red Sea look like a stroll in a stream?

Bloomfield's complete post to nyceducationnews list:
I think yesterday’s (Apr. 19) agreement allowed the Mayor to indulge in a classic divide and conquer strategy. Privatization and an extremely flawed accountability system, for example, were left unaddressed. Special education? The incoherent supervisory structure? The mayhem of principals disregarding their schools while they try to make sense of the restructuring and start the endless process of trolling for ESOs, LSOs, PSOs? One of the best mayoral initiatives – equalizing school funding and the distribution of quality teachers – has been left in tatters. Promises of consultation on class size, drop out prevention, and middle school reform seem little more than crumbs. Elected and statutory parent voices were abandoned. I am extremely disappointed, especially when many of us have stood side-by-side supporting our coalition colleagues, expecting reciprocity. The High School Council and others called for a broad public discussion of the interconnected pieces of the Mayor’s plan. Yesterday’s surprise announcement has done a great disservice to public school students by seeming to foreclose that comprehensive, transparent public review. But we should continue to fight for that debate and for constructive DOE responses to unresolved issues. While our bonds are strained, I hope they are not broken.

David Bloomfield
Professor, Brooklyn College
President, Citywide Council on High Schools

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