Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Event Was Not an Occurrence

This is the state of the New York City Department of Education these days. I mean, you hope the new chancellor is not crazy. He fired the idiot who was in charge of transportation. He's shaken up things over at Tweed. We don't really know what will come of that yet. I mean, you hope he will take an ax to legal, the clown car that tells principals to do Any Damn Thing They Please, but time's a-wasting, and they're all sitting around in their air-conditioned offices saying, sure, that's fine, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement is just a list of suggestions.

Meanwhile you get down to the actual work of enforcing the contract, and man is it discouraging. I may have mentioned once or twice that I have ten outstanding grievances and that they've all been to step two. Of course we lost at step two. Just about everyone loses at step two. Then you get back something, rubber stamped with the chancellor's signature, saying something like it's true that you only have three months to place an occurrence in a letter to file, but this event was not an occurrence.

You know, it happened, but it didn't occur. The DOE hires hundreds of lawyers to think these things up. I have to suppose it must beat working, or they wouldn't do it. Nonetheless, how do you look yourself in the mirror when your life's mission entails lying day in and day out? I suppose for Donald Trump's lawyers, they at least make a high salary, assuming he pays them and they don't end up having to cop a plea. I don't think these lawyers are raking it in, though.

Still, writing "the event was not an occurrence" ought to win a prize of some sort. I'm trying to think of how I can use that kind of logic to fight disciplinary letters. Let's say I get called into the principal's office because I didn't show up to work yesterday. He'll say I have this job to do, I have to be there to do it, and you know the whole deal. Blah, blah blah.

I can tell him I was there in spirit, and that this was much better than being there in person. I can contend that a lot of teachers COULDN'T be there in spirit, and that they only showed up in person because they were too lazy to be there in spirit. And after all, our bodies are mere shells, and after all we are but spiritual beings. I can claim I was there in my astral form and who is he to say I wasn't?

Did you call someone a vile name? You could say you only did that as an example of bad behavior, so you could contrast it with today, when you DIDN'T call someone a vile name. You see how much better that is? You wouldn't have appreciated it without the contrast. You now know, by absence of the vile name, how much better it is when people don't call you that. And after all, you are a teacher, so it's your job to show people the infinite possibilities we have in this life.

Did you give a terrible lesson? Did it rate ones on every step of Danielson? Here's where you can use DOE logic. You can say the terrible lesson was not a horrible lesson, and therefore you were effective. After all, it was not horrible. What more do they want? What's good for the goose is good for the lawyer.

Honestly, on this astral plane, I have no idea how they dream this stuff up. I have no idea how any arbitrator who hasn't spent the entire morning smoking crack could entertain these ideas as anything remotely acceptable. If I were the chancellor, I would abide by the contract I took part in bargaining. I wouldn't fight tooth and nail over nonsense, because that would make me a petty little bureaucrat concerned only with winning petty little battles.

And while that may be something, it's certainly not leadership.
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