Monday, August 12, 2019

The Chancellor and the Post

  That's NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on the left. If you're a city teacher, you can see he's in a school building, because those ugly tan bricks are unmistakable. The Post feigns outrage and claims to be standing up for our students,  but when's the last time you saw a NY Post editor in a real school? Don't all jump up at once.

This are strange times indeed. As the chancellor tries to move forward with culturally relevant and sustaining education, a notion which appears to have been mandated by the state anyway, he finds himself under fire. The editorial board at the NY Post is apoplectic. How dare he? Instead of spending 30 million to repair a school, he should snap his fingers and make a new building appear out of thin air. (It was idiotic to forget Chinese translators at a recent PEP meeting, but I'd bet dimes to dollars that idiocy came from some leftover appointee who should've been gone with Emperor Bloomberg.)

I'd like that building to magically appear nonetheless. I'd like a new magic building to replace Francis Lewis High School too, please. (Through UFT-initiated efforts, we're getting an annex, but we still won't have enough space. We won't even be able to retire some woefully inadequate classrooms.)  We work in a chronically overcrowded building. Though it's one of the best schools in the city, physical conditions are deplorable. As custodial employees retire, they aren't replaced. It's kind of like what Bloomberg did as teachers retired, resulting in an epidemic of oversized classes. 34 is more the norm than the exception these days. Where's the NY Post editorial board on that? Where were they when Joel Klein spent every spare moment kowtowing to Eva Moskowitz and as much as told public schools to go to hell?

As for school conditions, I've been teaching in the city system since 1984. Anyone who mistakes an NYC school for the Hilton is lacking at least several senses. And anyone who maintains these conditions originate with Carranza is either highly ignorant or willfully delusional. I'd conjecture the Post editorial board to be the latter (along with several other local editorial boards). Sometimes I think the editorial boards of the News and the Post don't read their own education coverage. I'd say the same of the Times if they bothered to cover education.

While the school in question may have been particularly awful, awful is par for the course in Fun City. Bloomberg closed schools left and right in a particularly hurtful game of musical chairs. Though Francis Lewis High School was sorely overcrowded, he sent letters to incoming freshmen at then embattled, now closed Jamaica High School that their school sucked and they ought to go to Lewis instead.

We survived not because Bloomberg supported us, but rather in spite of his utter indifference. He'd have been more than delighted to close us and make our staff into 300 ATRs. Instead, he overcrowded us as much as he possibly could, and responded to us only when some noisy teacher or other moved us into the pages of the News, the Times, and yes, even the Post (and more than once).

Chancellor Carranza walked into a minefield sustained and enabled by Bloomberg, and ignored by Carmen "It's a beautiful day" Fariña. As he tries to give a voice to long neglected students of color (not to mention everyone else), he's relentlessly attacked by a tabloid owned by the guy who brought us Roger Ailes and Fox News, which brought us President Donald Trump. Though I often like the education reporting in the Post, I don't recall a single op-ed in support of public education, ever. As for the editorial board, forget it.

I understand how some people would want to hold on to the SHSAT. If it works for them, it works for them. A colleague of mine, one for whom I have great respect, is as upset as anyone. She has her elementary age daughter already prepping for that test, and her plan is to send her to a specialized school. I understand that, but it's sad to see some people being manipulated to align with the Post.

There are certainly people with more simple anti-Carranza agendas. Anyone who aligns with President Trump's xenophobic vision will resist anything culturally sensitive to kids like those I serve. They're invaders, running an invasion, trying to undermine our white values, or something to that effect. And despite what they may be saying or doing this week, they don't love Asian students any more than they love black or Latino students.

In fact I teach mostly Asian students. None of the students I teach are going to Stuyvesant. My school takes everyone, and I am much more concerned with everyone than I am with students attending highly selective schools. Here's the problem students like mine are having--not only are they not attending Stuyvesant, but the geniuses in Albany have sorely cut the English instruction they vitally need.

The story of cutting instruction to ELLs is not as sexy as that of protesters mad as hell at Carranza. However, there are a whole lot more Asian students affected by that than by whether or not they're getting into Bronx Science. I'll sit while I wait for the Post editorial board to take a stand for my kids. As usual, I'll have to do it myself. I'll see them in September, and I will seek and get help for them, one way or another. The Post editorial board, despite their prominent crocodile tears, won't be lifting a finger to support them.

So much for their passion for our kids.
blog comments powered by Disqus