Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Beauty of the Small School

In my school, the most preps you'll get under ordinary circumstances is three. Of course, we're a big school. Most teachers probably have two preps. I've seen conscientious supervisors make sure no one in their departments had more than two preps. It's great when smart-hard-working people become supervisors. (Of course, no one can count on that.)

Nonetheless, not every school is a large school. Uber-reformy Michael Bloomberg was likely smoking his solid gold opium pipe in some high-class den of iniquity when one of his fair-weather friends, perhaps Cathie Black, told him that small schools were all the rage. Oh yeah, Bill Gates just loves them, and he's got even more money than you do.

Now Michael Bloomberg fancies himself an education expert, because Michael Bloomberg fancies himself an expert on all things. What is the basis of his expertise? Well, it can't be training, because he simply hasn't got any. And it can't be research, because no research supports the reforminess he so fervently embraces. What's left after that? Nothing but filthy lucre, and he's got cash as far as the eye can see. He can afford to jet off to Bermuda in the middle of a snowpocolypse. Most New Yorkers aren't nearly that smart.

Why? Because we haven't got the money, of course. So if Bill Gates has more money than Mike Bloomberg, he must be even smarter. Of course Bloomberg needed to close schools left and right at every possible opportunity, and break them up into little entities with silly names. The Mike Bloomberg Knitting Academy. The Joel Klein School of Excellence. The Cathie Black Penthouse of Whatever.

The problem came about when Bill Gates said oopzie, I made a mistake. This was quite unusual. Narcissistic, self-important, self-serving megalomaniacs tend not to make such utterances. Evidently, Gates was the exception that proved the rule. Bloomberg was unable to admit having made a mistake. Also he'd filled all the schools with newbies and there was little or no union activity so for Emperor Mike it was a WIN-WIN!

Yesterday I got a comment from someone teaching French 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 or some such nonsense. Because five preps was not enough, the visionary principal determined it would be a good idea to impose yet another class on this teacher. It's ridiculous that any working teacher should have so many preps. That would be an instant grievance in my building. Of course, if you're the only French teacher, maybe an arbitrator would say too bad for you, go teach the five preps. (The imposition of a sixth class, though, is a grievance anywhere.)

I'm thinking about how to solve an issue like that. Wouldn't a teacher without an impossible workload be likely to do a better job? If I were in a building with four other schools I'd pool students from the other schools, let my French teacher do levels one and two, yours three and four, and another five. Or maybe one teacher from each school could teach each level.

Better yet, let's put all those broken buildings back together and give walking papers to principals who issue teachers five preps and a sixth class. I mean, they're clearly incompetent. Why don't we combine the schools, keep the best principals, and make the others do something useful, you know, like teach NYC's 1.1 million schoolchildren?

With exploding school buildings, and class sizes at max as a matter of course, it's ridiculous we waste time sticking five principals in one building, not to mention the ensuing and utterly predicable programming nightmares for teachers and lack of resources for children.

Sure Bloomberg made stupid, pointless decisions. There's no reason on earth they can't be reversed.
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