Sunday, November 2, 2014

Judging Farina on the MORE Listserve and Beyond - Yay or Nay?

The real problem is that Farina is completely over her head and, though she has replaced some of the most senior staff in Tweed, much of what was "Tweed" under Bloomberg is still "Tweed" under de Blasio.  The same sorts of lightning bolt from on high memos get sent to schools except with a different name at the top of them, the Networks still function completely as they have for the last five years, the investigative and disciplinary functions still work exactly the same way they have for a decade--teachers get fired, administrators get reassigned--and except for the change in principal qualifications (seven years teaching experience required) they still mostly come from the Leadership Academy.  It's almost impossible to imagine what "new schooling" Farina has "forged" beyond exhortations to put the joy back into classrooms.  I would like to be paid $250,000 a year for a gig like that. .. Harris Lirtzman on MORE listserve.
Harry put out this link to an edweek article asking people for a yay or nay. Here are some comments that came back:

"N.Y.C. Chancellor Carmen Fariña Forges a New Schooling Era for Nation's Largest District"

There is some unhappiness on Leonie's NYC Education News listserve also with Farina, especially over managing parents and some controls put in at PEP meetings. See Leonie's blog for some of that.
Disturbing lack of financial transparency on the part of the NYC Department of Education and the Panel on Educational Policy
And South Bronx School was cut off at the last PEP (Open Letter to Chancellor Fariña) because he was speaking about a personal matter - even under Bloomberg we could say whatever we wanted for 2 minutes.

And there's this from Chaz:

When Carmen worked for Joel Klein, I publicly confronted them at a PEP by declaring that the school systems of Kabul and Baghadad would recover sooner than the NYC system. She made a public comment to someone who quoted me along the lines of "he's (me) crazy - he compared us to terrorists." I'm sure Farina puts me in the "crazy, not to be taken seriously" category. At least she's shown she can be right on one thing.

Comments from the MORE listserve:
Nay! With Fariña, if you've ever heard her speak, it's her way or the highway. Teachers are still being evaluated on student test scores. As to Pre-k, many of the teachers put into those new classrooms had a crash course in teaching early childhood education. The three and four year olds in these programs are assessed up the wazoo. Many of the classrooms have not been given the pre-k designated monies to buy supplies. 
Pre-K teacher

I would also like to add in that many of the pre-k teachers in the current school year specifically requested for pre-k on their preference sheet because pre-k is exempt from Charlotte Danielson and are still under the S/U rating system
Former Pre-K teacher

For me, it's even simpler... Have things improved since any of Bloomberg's chancellors? Because I work at the middle school level, and all I've seen are funding cuts, more corporate-instead-of-teacher-written curriculum, standardized tests being used to evaluate teachers and schools, which renders "not using them to evaluate kids" (which they still are -- 4th is still used to get them into middle schools, 7th still used to evaluate them for entrance to high schools) a publicity stunt, quality reviews stressing us out, abusive principals still rampant, etc. I've been on the job 13 years. My kids used to learn AND have fun in my class. YES, teaching used to be fun. I was the only one I know who was excited to go to work every day. It's a different profession now, and if Fariña's not part of the solution, she's part of the problem.
So remind me why anyone's answer would be "yay"?
Middle School teacher
Here is the rest of what Harry had to say:
Mayor de Blasio cares about pre-K, all to the good.  He cares that he got clobbered over the head this spring about charter expansion and colocations.  He doesn't seem to care that much about "schools," though, or how they work.  He is supposed to give a speech tomorrow about his education philosophy, which will be the first time he's addressed real school pedagogy and administration since in over a year.  Bloomberg cared about Tweed.  Bloomberg knew that once he had control of Tweed he had control over the schools.  That's why he put Klein in and supported him to the hilt.  That's why he booted Cathie Black so quickly when it became clear what a terrible mistake he'd made.  That's why he put Dennis Walcott, an excellent "seat-warmer" but who knew his boss's mind completely.  Bloomberg watched Tweed and Tweed knew it was being watched.

I'm told that the Mayor has installed a ring of his own advisers around Farina because of her poor political judgment and that she doesn't have much independence.  She may give a decent speech to teachers or principals and certainly is more comfortable with Michael Mulgrew et al. than anyone else who's been in Tweed since 2002.  But she's completely over her head when it comes to getting her arms around the school system and whatever her pedagogical principles may be, good or bad, is completely irrelevant since she doesn't have the juice or the inclination to impose them on a sprawling school system. And she works for a mayor who just doesn't care about education beyond pre-K and not getting killed on charters again.  He's being pressured to respond to the state deadline for a plan to manage failing schools--perhaps he'll deliver on his promise not to close them but beyond that it's anyone's guess.

My guess-at the end of the school year, Farina goes back into retirement to spend time with her grandchildren and the mayor tries to find a real schools administrator.

1 comment:

  1. Big Nay!! She promised to bring back the joy in teaching. Instead we see the return of the Klein years. Now the NYTimes editorial board is urging her to close more schools. When she closed Jamaica, she did it against the wishes of the community and local political leaders. Bloomberg is still her one and only God. And deBlasio is allowing this to happen. Honestly, I had hopes for deBlasio, but will not be voting him in again. He is slowly turning into a Neoliberal on education causes, and that's enough for me!!


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