Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cathie Want A Cracker?

Too bad the search for a new schools' chancellor didn't extend to some of the teachers and parents on the nycpublicschools list serve. Here are a couple of folks with great insight on the machinations of the privatizing powers that be:
Of all the words used to describe Cathie Black, "parrot" may be a new one. But it seems that after her listening tour of Tweed, she has now come out repeating the tired old propaganda that has been adopted by the Department of Education for the last nine years.
This morning at 6:15 AM on NPR Cathie Black announced that she "has a problem with the practice of granting 25-year-olds tenure, insuring them a job for the rest of their lives for just showing up to work everyday". Also, she "has a problem with laying off the 'last in' first". She stated that she could never run a company successfully if these practices existed and that these practices would never be accepted in business.
Frightening to see that her ignorance regarding these issues had been replaced by the misrepresentations she is being taught. First of all, there is no practice of granting 25-year olds tenure. Anyone of that age who does achieve tenure has already served three years in a classroom and has been trained during that probationary period to work on techniques and strategies to improve their pedagogy. At any time during the three year period, if the teacher does not show improvement or an aptitude for the job, he or she can be summarily fired--no questions asked. It is called a "discontinuance of probation" and it is used frequently. After three years, if the teacher has been satisfactory rated, only then is tenure granted. And if an administrator has any doubts about granting tenure, there is the option to extend probation for an additional year...no questions asked.
Cathie Black is also showing her ignorance of the fact that tenure is not a "job for the rest of their lives for just showing up to work everyday." Tenured teachers can be fired under the terms of state education law Section 3020a. That's all tenure gets them: a due process proceeding. It does not mean a job for life. It is just a guarantee of a fair hearing, with evidence presented and with representation. Private sector workers would love to have such security, but apparently a successfull business cannot incorporate fairness according to Black. A tenured teacher cannot be summarily fired for any reason as a probationary teacher can. That's all tenure means. And if Cathie Black is unquestioningly passing along the false myths that we expect of a person who simply repeats what she hears without any independent research, we should fear what lies ahead in her decision making process.
May I add that without tenure, teachers risk discrimination, being punished for their political leanings, and they will rightly fear exposing wrongdoing or questioning violations such as failure to follow special ed or ELL laws, for example. It is just protection Cathie, not a lifetime guarantee. Get out of your cocoon.
"Last in, first out" was never a policy that was debated until the wholesale closing of schools left many veteran teachers without jobs. Before that, the only teachers in excess were those with one or two years experience. Suddenly there were hundreds of employees who had given their lives to the children of New York City, twenty or thirty years in many cases, who had no place to work, through no fault of their own. They were also the most highly paid. So, despite the fact that many are fine teachers, Tweed looked for a way to paint them all with a negative brush and build a pr position around firing them. Black says the practice would never be accepted in business where the model is to have the power to hire and fire at will. But first she must make a convincing argument that the basis of retaining teachers will never be favoritism or silence about problems at schools. Seniority is a fair way to fight favoritism and nepotism. Do away with seniority and tenure and watch what is unleashed in our workforce. After her week of listening to folks downtown, the breadth of her understanding of the issues may be a mile wide but it is a quarter inch thick.
Has she asked to speak to Diane Ravitch or Deborah Meier, for example, or to Patrick Sullivan, or to Lisa or Leonie or Mona or Patricia Connelly or David Bloomfield, or ANYONE who has even the slightest different views on ANYTHING schools-related? Would she be allowed to even if she wanted to, or would she be "accompanied" by "advisors" who made sure they retained control of her education on education? Does anyone think she'll be reading the report from the Parents' Commission, or Diane's latest book, or any of Deborah's or Yong Zhao's, or (heaven forbid) "NYC Schools Under Bloomberg and Klein: What Parents, Teachers, and Policymakers Need to Know"? I'm certainly not counting on it.
"Parrot" doesn't come close to what's going on here. This is a completely fabricated chancellor, trained in a hermetically sealed environment worthy of a Chinese re-education camp, who will spout as her "beliefs" only what she's been fed, based on the data she's been fed, from people who are in 100% control of her thinking and her agenda. I personally prefer "the Manchurian Chancellor" to mere "parrot" -- it comes much closer to the true nature of what's going on and the insidiousness of what's going to come out of it.
for more on Senor Wences and one of his favorite phrases

1 comment:

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