Friday, January 16, 2015

Teaching and Policing: Showdown and Slowdown - Norm in The Wave

Published Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 at

Teaching  and Policing:  Showdown and Slowdown
By Norm Scott

For the two decades of the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, there was no group of public employees more vilified and disrespected than teachers, often with overwhelming approval of the press and politicians and with much of the public going along – though polls did show that public school parents overwhelmingly supported the teachers at the schools their children went to. My friend Arthur Goldstein, the chapter leader at Francis Lewis HS, one of the most well-read and respected bloggers, wrote:   

“[I]t's perfectly fine to vilify teachers, to stereotype us based on shoddy evidence, and to deprive us of due process based on a handful of sensationalized cases. We should trust in the good graces of folks like Mike Bloomberg and Dennis Walcott, and we should disregard the fact that they are fanatical ideologues with no regard for evidence or truth. Is this because teaching is a profession dominated by women? Is it because time and time again our union leadership has compromised with folks like Bloomberg, embracing mayoral control, charter schools, colocations, two-tier due process, and things that looked very much like merit pay? Is it because the job of educating our children must always take second place to the importance of enriching the likes of Pearson, Eva Moskowitz and Rupert Murdoch? ... Why is there one standard for police, and a very different one for teachers? Why is it so widely accepted by the media?”

So, imagine a scenario at a high school graduation where Bloomberg or NYCDOE Chancellors, the universally despised Joel Klein or almost equally despicable Dennis Walcott, were the invited speakers and during the ceremony, masses of teachers turned their backs. Or a student tragically dies and at the funeral teachers turned their backs? Oh, the fallout, especially from the Murdoch press: FOX News, NY Post and Wall Street Journal. And there would have been repercussions beyond the press. Teachers who were identified might expect a drop-in observation and an ineffective rating for “embarrassing the school.”

And then there’s that unofficial police slowdown, which breaks Police Commissioner Bratton’s “Broken Windows” aggressive type of policing that has been given so much credit for reducing crime over the past two decades.

Who has more of a case for a slowdown from useless paperwork and dumb rules than teachers? But imagine if our union played like Patrick Lynch and told teachers to “just say no” to all the crap being dumped on them? The Post would yell STRIKE and call for the union and teachers to be savaged.

Rank and file police from behind the veil of anonymity have decried some of the punitive aspects of “broken windows” in what often becomes a quota system in order to pad supposed crime fighting stats and to raise revenue, not the purpose NYPD should be used for. Much of the anger from cops comes from feelings they were carrying out policies set by Bratton and de Blasio and were then being told they were overstepping their bounds.

One cop was quoted in the NY Post, which would be apoplectic if teachers did a slowdown:

To have all the manpower utilized for the sole purpose of writing summonses is a very dangerous way to utilize manpower. This is not what we’re out here for.”

Broken windows policy has come under attack for causing so much fraying of trust between the NYPD and communities. There is some irony in that some of the most severe critics of the NYPD are actually praising  the police for the potential outcomes of slowing down broken windows. 

The NY Times has been amongst the severest critics of the slowdown.

Former Rockaway resident and NYPD and broken windows critic Josmar Trujillo took aim from the left at the liberals at the Times:
“While research and data point to a broken windows ideology that is as racist as it is unproven, fair weather friends who are at their core more concerned with ‘social order’ than social justice, are scared to death of less policing….the cops haven't, and won't, stop chasing armed robbers and murderers. They've stopped the municipal revenue stream of parking tickets. They've stopped harassing homeless people. A cop that called into WNYC this week suggested they're simply not filling out paperwork like before. Now this is not to say that activists should look to police unions or the NYPD's rank and file, who've made a decision (at least temporarily) to take their feet off the ‘broken windows’ gas pedal, for allies. But clearly our lot isn't with the Times or Sharpton and co either. If the rank and file is essentially saying that broken windows policing produced 'unnecessary arrests', we might actually, like when the unions speak out against quotas, be inclined to agree.”

Thus, another interesting example of  left meeting right at an interesting intersection (see “common core”) known as “The Twilight Zone.” (You can see what I watched on New Years Day.)
Next time: Cause of much teacher and police hostility: the toxicity of Al Sharpton.

Norm blogs out of the twilight zone at

Note: Former Wave correspondent The G-Man delved into the controversy with former policeman Rob Schwach, son of former Wave editor Howie Schwach:

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