Saturday, September 21, 2019

CEP--Comprehensive Educational Plan or Waste of Time?

If you're a chapter leader, you're part of your school's SLT, or School Leadership Team. The main purpose of this team, theoretically at least, is working on a CEP for your school. I've been doing this for a long time, as I was on the SLT before I became chapter leader, and we've spent varying degrees of time on it. The only contribution I recall UFT making in our school was a suggestion we have fewer negative teacher ratings. Then last year we didn't have any, so there wasn't anywhere we could take it.

It's always seemed a little bit odd. I remember waiting until much of the year was over before we really dealt with it. I'm not at all sure it's even relevant. There are several issues that really bother me. The one that bothers me most is the rampant overcrowding. Even though UFT was able to negotiate us an annex, it won't open for two years. When it does, we'll have a net gain of only eight classrooms. In my view, we'd have been better off negotiating a reasonable population. DOE says it will stay the same but full disclosure--I don't trust them.

Another issue is the state of the building. For years, as custodial employees have left, they haven't been replaced. This is reflected in the condition of the building. As if that's not enough, air-conditioning doesn't work in much of the facility, including the trailers. Every day the custodians tell me the geniuses at Tweed will send someone to repair the trailer tomorrow. Pretty soon, instead of being 99 degrees in fall, it'll be 29 degrees in winter.

So how the hell do they expect teachers to focus on the graduation rate? There's some sort of hierarchy of human needs, and as far as I can see, shelter comes well before high school graduation. As if that's not enough, there's now a ponderous process involving some computer program into which the CEP must be entered.

At our first SLT meeting, the principal announced that there was an SLT already begun, and that there were already 125 pages of data entered. Not only that, but there were also responses and suggestions from the superintendent. I sat there wondering why I was sitting there. If all this is already done, why do we need to even show up? What's the point of pretending that we're part of the process?

Of course there's nothing to prevent us from discussing actual school concerns. There's nothing that prevents parents, students or UFT from placing things on meeting agendas. As far as I can tell, though, the CEP is a pretentious, unnecessary load of unmitigated nonsense. I mean, it's great to hope that 14% of some group or other will score 5% better on some test or other. I suppose if I were principal, I'd sit around and calculate exactly which goals I could probably meet, and then I'd set them. But I'd also know there were holistic concerns that affected my school and community.

A chapter leader I know told me his school has two CEPs. One is the official one they send the city. The other is the goals independently set by the school leadership team--things the school community actually wants and needs, regardless of the constraints of the ponderous yet limited official document. Maybe that's a model for other schools to follow.

I generally like the new chancellor. I'm not bothered by the things the New York Post writes about him. I think he has the interests of students and teachers at heart. I've seen him speak, and he sounds like a teacher to me. He sounds like someone who hasn't forgotten what it's like to be in the classroom. When the media complains he fired a few people, I think that's s good start. Now fire all the rest of them, every single one Bloomberg pushed in without exception.

I wonder whether he understood how preposterous the current CEP is. I wonder whether or not his focus was there. My job as teacher/ chapter leader is pretty much all-encompassing. Good intentions notwithstanding, I'm not coming in all summer for free to help the principal compose some tedious document that will likely have little effect on what's actually going on.

Am I overlooking something? Is the CEP more important than I think? Should I earmark 200 hours next summer to sit in the principal's office and pore over tedious documents for free? Will that change the world for the better? Let me know.
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