Sunday, June 27, 2021

Dear Mayor de Blasio--You Can't Put 5,000 Humans in a Violin Case

DOE agreed with UFT that it had to do something about extremely overcrowded high schools.  This notwithstanding, While I am, as usual, impressed by the valuable lip service they're seen fit to pay us, I'm not at all persuaded they'll take the next step.

If we were Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, ostensibly progressive Bill de Blasio would call in every chit, and do everything possible to move heaven and earth to make sure we got huge premium space and a frigging heliport. Alas, we aren't.

To the left you see my dog Toby sitting where a violin should go. Now I didn't put him there, and I wouldn't put him there. He doesn't belong there, but I thought he looked cute so I snapped a photo. He's actually quite lucky I'm not from Bill de Blasio's DOE.

If I were from the DOE, I'd work tirelessly to close that case with him inside of it. I know this because I've spent the last few decades working in a school that's at over 200% capacity, and the DOE is fine with that. 

Believe it or not, reps from our school, along with reps from UFT and CSA, were able to go to Bloomberg's DOE, right in the belly of the beast at Tweed, and negotiate a way to lower enrollment. We would actually check whether enrolling students lived in the district. We gave up a few dozen selected students in certain programs and recruited them from zoned students instead. I don't remember what else was in that agreement because we made it about 12 years ago.

I know that when de Blasio came in the entire agreement disappeared. They started shoveling students in like pieces of coal in a hundred-year-old DOE furnace. Do you really live in the district? Who cares? We take everyone, no questions asked. There are absolutely no limits to the incredible accommodations at our school. It's not really clean or anything, because every time a custodial employee leaves we don't bother with replacements, and who cares about stuff like that anyway?

Now we've faced a pandemic, and we know well what can happen. I have a colleague thirty years younger than I am who spent weeks in a hospital fighting COVID. I have multiple colleagues who've lost parents, and who will spend the rest of their lives wondering whether they brought COVID home from work. It's not their fault, and you can tell them that. However, people who've been through experiences like that almost never find ways to really believe it.

But that's no skin off of Bill de Blasio's apple. He's got tons of money, and that's why we didn't see an early retirement incentive. (Frankly, I'd have taken it because I can't resist a bargain.  I'm going to get back at him for not following through by sticking around and being even more pissed off than I was last year.) This notwithstanding, there's no money to, you know, buy a frigging building and accommodate our kids. We aren't Jeff Bezos. 

Over the years, nearby properties have been available. A large office building that used to house a local paper was sold to St. John's, which curiously put classrooms there, because they needed space. And two hotels were built right across the street from us, so I guess you could rent a room and enroll in our school. The DOE, in its favor, is building an annex behind our building. Of course, once they bulldoze the moldy, decrepit trailers and reconvert the airless, windowless rooms back into closets we'll net only a half a dozen additional classrooms. 

It's remarkable that an alleged progressive can treat children and working people like that. Imagine how sometimes-Republican, sometimes Democrat Eric Adams, having taken millions of dollars from people who want to privatize education, will treat overcrowded schools. 

On the bright side, it would take a lot of effort for him to do any worse than de Blasio.

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