Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Blog from NYC Schools

Updated March 27

At the new blog The Chancellor's New Clothes, bloggers A Voice Cries Out and Learners Inherit come at us from 2 distinct directions right out of the NYC schools.

Today, Learners Inherit, a former Teaching Fellow who has crossed over and is now a vet, exposes the fault line in the newbie/veteran teacher divide in today's post. A brief excerpt (make sure to read the whole piece):

...according to the welcoming committee at the NYCTF New Teacher Ceremony, the reason [for th divide] is because “older teachers don’t like you. And they shouldn’t. They are afraid of you because you have the power to do what they can’t. You can change the schools. You are young, fresh, and full of ideas.” That was the speech that echoed throughout the large auditorium housing over 1,850 newly inducted NYCTF. But this was not the first time I heard it. In fact, this was actually a tame version of what I had been hearing all summer from my Fellows Advisor...

Why did these Fellows Advisors have to play-up our importance in the system? Why did they consistently and conveniently alienate us newbies from the experienced teachers?


Anonymous said...

Wow, another anti-reform blogger crawls out from under a rock. Those who can, teach. Those who can't teach, blog about how horrible the chancellor is.

ed notes online said...

And then there are those who pretend to teach and blog about how horrible teachers are while on the payroll of Bloomberg.

Anonymous said...

Or, another way to put it: so much easier to dismiss someone who is a teacher by saying they're not than it is to actually address their arguments.

17 (really 15) more years said...

Only a real teacher knows what a shambles the Chancellor and Mayor have turned the NYC public schools into. Anyone who really knows certainly wouldn't defent them.

Socratic Method said...

Makes total sense - there aren't any teachers in all of NYC who defend the Mayor, so thus anyone who does defend the administration can't possibly be a teacher.

I know a lot of teachers who haven't bought into the establishment hype and the myths that have become doctrine among those who oppose change at all costs.

ed notes online said...

We have addressed your arguments. You haven't addressed ours. Like why is your blog so lonely in supporting Klein - assuming you are a teacher - which so far you have not convinced us of -- like you the dedicated teacher seems to have time to read blogs and leave comments during school hours. I'm sure there are students you can be tutoring.

Socratic Method said...

My blog is probably so lonely because whenever a new blogger arises in support of Klein, folks like you do whatever they can to discredit him or her. And if you are judging a teacher's dedication to his craft based on how much time they spend blogging, there are a lot more prolific writers than I at whom you could point your finger - including yourself.

ed notes online said...

I don't begrudge you taking some time out of what must be a grueling working day under the awful conditions in the BloomKlein era. And you have all that monitoring of the teacher reading his newspaper all day and tracking those 20 grievances he filed. And since the union protects the massive numbers of bad teachers in your school, you must be one busy guy.

I can now blog all day since I put in my 35 years teaching in the wonderful pre-BloomKlein years when I had the chance to spend my days in the classroom with my feet up reading the paper under the protection of the union and defending the status quo. I chose to teach instead, without merit pay.

Of course the powers that be in the union and in the district were not very happy with the fact that I and others were busy exposing their corrupt ways. There's nothing like having your UFT district rep and the District Superintendent pay a visit to your assistant principal and suggest he find a way to give me a U-rating not because of my teaching but because of my political views. (He refused and thereby costing himself a future principal position - a man with honor, not like the whores under BloomKlein). Who do you think would be the one to go today, me or the newspaper reader?

So when you talk about people like me defending the status quo when I understood about 10 minutes after I began teaching in 1967 there was a need for a change and then spent the next 40 years advocating for changes, I (and other veteran teachers) are just a bit resentful when you come off telling us BloomKlein is the answer to our prayers.

Socratic Method said...

Sounds like our backgrounds are more similar than either of us would probably like to admit. And on the corruption and the inefficacy of the union we certainly agree.

I never said Klein was the answer to our prayers, but as someone who has also been teaching in NYC since long before the Klein era, I do believe he's the best chancellor/superintendent in the country. He's not perfect, but he's got more guts and better ideas than anyone else we've ever had.

40 years ago, you may have agitated against the status quo, but these days you are a straight-up no-holds-barred status quo apologist. Everything Klein does, you decry. If he looks up, you claim it's because he's corrupt; if he looks down, it's because he hates teachers; sideways, he's trying to privatize the whole world.

Meanwhile, plenty of people agree with me in support of Klein. Plenty of teachers, and yes, even other people from outside of education who know what they're talking about. Tilson, Broad, the teachers who've gone to work within the DOE because they're so inspired by what's going on, and teachers like me who've stayed because we see that a new day has dawned in New York.

17 (really 15) more years said...

"Meanwhile, plenty of people agree with me in support of Klein. "

I work in one of the better performing schools in NYC, and I don't know one person (including administration) who supports Klein.

It's just a damn shame that things aren't looking good for Hilary, otherwise we could look forward to shipping him back to Washington DC.

Socratic Method said...

It's probably true that most old-school, established teachers don't like Klein, because he's changing the very system under which they flourished enough to last this long. The system was built to promote the teachers it has, and to turn off the teachers it has lost.

This is why I believe we see way more young teachers who are pro-Klein than veterans. In 20 years, the teachers who came on under Klein and stayed the course will be people who agreed with his mindset, and they'll probably be complaining about whatever changes come their way from subsequent administrations.

ed notes online said...

Flourished? You've got to be smoking something.

Have you checked the new teacher blogs out there and how discouraged they are? Even the new one you trashed is from a newer teacher. And many of these people are not kids but 2nd career people who haev been horrified at what they've seen - and it ain't about a teacher reading the paper.

You keep ignoring the fact that over 50% or more of the current teaching crop came in under Klien. Probably closer to 60%. It usuallu takes them about 2 years to get teh message. Of course, 78% of the TFA folks bail out after 2 years.

Where are they praising Klein? Every single school that Ed Notes, ICE, TJC and others are in touch with are almost unanimously condemning Klein.

You said on your blog that only 25% (you included, I bet) of the people in your school are competent. That means your school must be in chaos, as schools cannot be run with such a high level of ineptess. If you are really a teacher then give us a breakdown on how many years people have. Are the newer teachers the most competent and the vets the least? Are you in an elem, middle or high school? Are there special ed, language issues?

Talk ed, man, not ideology or BloomKlein press releases. If you can't do that much, then go away.

ed notes online said...

You say:
"Trust me, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to grieve this principal. She promotes her friends and she has her minions write up any teacher who actually tries to teach. I'm not a fan of hers, to say the least. In fact, she's the reason I believe a union is necessary. I just think the union should be reasonable, and instead of protecting people like this miserable teacher, should be focused on protecting the teachers who do a good job and have a capricious boss."

Don't you get it: there are capricious bosses endemic to the system, often due to BloomKlein (Not that there weren't many before and many of us called for a strngthening of union rules to enable us to fight back.) Non-educators who know nothing. The union has to protect everyone. You prove our argument - the capricious principal is protecting the incompetent guy, not the union. If your principal is writing up people who do their jobs, that is indicative of the problem we are talking about - the union can't or won't defend people.

If you really are in a school, you are just feeding off a propaganda line- maybe you are TFA.

ed notes online said...

"If he looks up, you claim it's because he's corrupt; if he looks down, it's because he hates teachers; sideways, he's trying to privatize the whole world."

Well, you got 3 things right. But not this one- that I am for the status quo. You are for the staus quo which is the current system. I have always fought the status quo including the one under Klein which is phony reform on the cheap.

For you to blame NYC educator and other anti-Klein blogs for scaring proKlein teachers off is rediculous. If you read the post on the new blog today it is from a former teaching fellow - one of the newer gen you talk about and it is also anti Klein. All those teachers who support him - if they last more than 2 years are just not visible anywhere.

And as a CEO, Klein has to be branded a failure for alienating the very people who must carry out his policies at the ground level. If they want to play by the corporate rule game they should oive by it. This is all about change for change sake. True reformers had many ideas on the kinds of changes that would really have an impact as many reform-minded teachers have had. There is no teacher imprint on anything they've done - all CEO style. If you are a teacher I can't believe if you had the power this is the way you would have gone about it.

And all the changes you though about was how to get rid of the guy who read the paper, then you are not a serious teacher. Like there's not a hint of class size issues in anything you say.

Socratic Method said...

Yes, my school is extremely chaotic, as are the majority of schools in NYC. Mine is among the worst 25% or so of schools.

I would indeed include myself in the top 25% of teachers in our school, and of the top 25%, I'd say a third of us are experienced (10+ years), a third have 5-10 years of experience, and a third have 2-5 years. A disproportionately high percentage of the good teachers are Teach For America, and though many have left after 2-3 years, a number have stayed. I'd estimate the number who have stayed is higher than 22% - where do you get that 78% number? Not doubting it, just curious.

Yes, the principal of the school is capricious, but I do have to give her credit in that she's trying hard to fire the really incompetent folks like the guy I mentioned before - she's certainly not protecting them. Problem is, she also makes life tough for many of the competent teachers. And yes, I get it; that's why I said I do think we need a union. What I also said is that it should protect the good teachers and let principals fire the bad. The answer to problems is not always to take the most extreme opposite approach possible.

I've seen how you guys treat pro-Klein bloggers, so I can only imagine that I'm not the first. You "accuse" us of not being teachers, of being brainwashed TFA drones, of being Klein operatives, etc. Most of the pro-Klein teachers I know are too busy teaching to blog, but I'm a bit more experienced than many of them and, like you, thus have more time to write.

Quoting you: "This is all about change for change sake." and "I have always fought the status quo including the one under Klein".

Sounds like you're all about complaining for complaining's sake. Regardless, Klein is a reformer who has destroyed the status quo. You want to go back to it. You can't call what Klein is doing the status quo yet when it's a) still evolving (don't you guys always crow about all the reorgs?), b) so revolutionarily different from what was the previous system, and c) not fully accepted by the reactionary old guard. But if you insist on calling the Klein DOE the "status quo", then fine, you are a defender of old, anachronistic, proven policy failures and the strengthening of the very union that has so contributed to destroying our schools. I just didn't want to say that before because it's such a mouthful.

Under Assault said...

I agree with you that the union has "contributed to destroying our schools." They've been complicit.

While a non-educator chancellor designs and carries out large-scale experiments on a generation of students without the input of parents and educators, our union prefers not to draw the line sand.

And by the way, the "Socratic method" would never be tolerated in a BloomKlein classroom. There's no Do Now, no Aim, no procedure, no test prep, no word walls, no rubrics . . .

Socratic Method said...

...nor should it be. The Socratic Method is rarely a good teaching method outside of law school and perhaps a few high school classes. I use the name not as an advertisement for a teaching strategy.

ed notes online said...

It's not that true ed reformers want the old system back, though it looks better than what is happening now, but reject the methods, philosphy, etc of the Klein changes. We will continue to fight for the kinds of changes that will have a positive impact on kids and teachers. One reason we in ICE have worked to reform the union is that it could (and should) play a major role in change.

From your own school, it sounds like the 7 years of BloomKlein have had little positive impact. (Why not talk about before adn after - have the multupel reorganizations been good for the school?) That your principal bothers even competent teachers is a reflection of the negative impact of the corporate style system Klein has put into place. An enormous number of principals and many above them we haev had contact with literally roll their eyes when you ask them what they think of Klein.

On TFA's I did bad math. Figures I've seen are actiually about 18% retention - maybe it's 3 years or so. While they may seem competent, there is a factor of inexperienced newbies that haev an impact on stability and control in a school. Sounds like your school may fall into the category. Klein's driving out so many senior teachers - and I know many excellent teachers who are just plain disgusted with the level of micromanagement that imposes bad ed on good ed.

That you, a long-time teacher, somehow misses that is in some ways aatounding.

Under Assault said...

I'm still trying to get to the bottom of the Socratic method thing.

Since you're not using it in your comments nor advocating its use in the classroom, what are you trying to convey?

According to some, Socrates actually wrote nothing: "Most of our knowledge of him comes from the works of Plato (427-347), and since Plato had other concerns in mind than simple historical accuracy it is usually impossible to determine how much of his thinking actually derives from Socrates."

So, we learn little from the horse's mouth — then, and now.

Socratic Method said...

I would say the reorgs have been good for our school. When it was divided into smaller schools the overall school got better. I think the reading curriculum is better than what we had before, and I don't like the math curriculum. This is not the point, though. My point is that the long-term gains will far outweigh the short-term gains or losses we've seen so far.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I want to thank you for welcoming our blog! We are honored to be mentioned.
Secondly, did socratic method really says that “The Socratic Method is rarely a good teaching method?"
Were it not for the Socratic Method then he/she would not be given the opportunity to be heard since the Socratic Method encourages discourse from both points of view.
In a civilized society, one would hope that both points of view are entertained and that children are encouraged to express themselves and listen to thoughts that might contradict their own.
If not the Socratic Method then what?
Perhaps he/she would prefer the “Napoleon Method,” or maybe the “Pinochet Method.”
Wait! I’ve got it! The “Bloomberg Method.”
Oops. We already have that one.

Under Assault said...

Okay, now we can talk.

I don't think you can generalize like this, to say that the overall small school "got better." I've been in a small school (9th-grade only, 4 classes) and a big school (4-grades 3000+ pupils). The small school was hideous, no one got serviced properly. The big school services some, doesn't service others very well, particularly the ones who drop out or hardly ever show up.

So, I'm curious what you think the long-term "gains" might be. There is, after all, a vast array of "gains" one could shoot for. To graduate lots and lots of kids is one. To graduate a few and force the others out is another. You can see that the modus operandi would be totally different depending on the goal you set out to achieve. And I think there's no difference as to size: both small and large can achieve either.

And they could do this before Klein reared his unqualified little head. He didn't do a darn thing except create needless chaos and fake accountability. He fettered many brilliant teachers and long-termers, and created an unfortunate cadre of arrogant fly-by-night newbies.

I'm prepared to argue further, and I know you are, too, but not with generalities. They can be shot down like pinatas.

Under Assault said...

My 7:45 comment was to Socratic Method, but avoicecriesout posted in between.....

Socratic Method said...

I wasn't generalizing, I was speaking specifically of the school in which I teach. When it was broken into smaller schools, on balance they got better (one school was just as bad, the others were better).

As for my comments about the Socratic Method, my point was only that you shouldn't read my name to be an endorsement of the method. It's just a name. Socrates was a great teacher (though there are some who believe otherwise), and as being a great teacher is something I aspire to, from hence came my moniker.

As for the efficacy of the socratic method in a middle school or high school classroom, I have never seen it done effectively. If you have used it well, I applaud you as I would applaud anyone who has used any system well. This particular discussion of nomenclature seems to be a waste of time; I will gladly concede whichever trivial point you are trying to make in order to avoid having to continue to talk about it.