Tuesday, November 23, 2010

my friend Bernie's Lament

I am still teaching, if you can call it that. As an ATR, most principals think of you as an anachronistic dinosaur, who has ben a part of the great educational meltdown, They believe that only the new and younger teachers have all of the answers and solutions, that experience is the reason why schools did not work in the past. Like some of the people in baseball who make all of their decisions based on saber metrics, it's all about the numbers, even when the numbers don't tell the whole story or the numbers are flawed and inaccurate , as the numbers most certainly are in the case of NYC schools.

In addition, teachers like myself cost too much to put on their budget, which unlike when schools were larger, is extremely small. Their budget might be 400 or 500,000. My salary is almost 100,000. If they hire me, what does that leave them with to run the school. The downsizing of schools has not improved schools as far as I can see. With 7 or 8 schools in a building, you have 7 or 8 principals so your cost for principals is 7 or 8x more than one principal's cost, the Xerox contracts are multiple as opposed to one for the whole building. The same is true for paper supplies, etc.

Since the principals and assistant principals by and large do not possess expertise in teaching, they cannot nurture or "grow" new teachers. This means the new teachers either flounder and fail, or eventually learn through trial and error ( if the last long enough to do that). It also means that the only way to assist the new teachers is to bring in "experts" or mentors -which is more money. In larger schools the experienced mentors are already there in the school and already being paid so that is saving money. Most of the supervisors in my thirty five years career were supportive and helpful. They allowed you the freedom to make mistakes, to grow, to do and to try new things and ideas, to use your creativity and personality to create your own style as opposed to the to some cookie cutter, one-size fits all paradigm. I truly enjoyed sharing what I knew and what I had learned through my experience with new/junior teachers.

There is no sense of tradition, or continuation or belonging because many of the schools students attended or are attending have been or will be closed. Students will not be able to return at a later date to tell their teachers what they have accomplished and how those teachers impacted their lives, nor will they be able to return to mentor other students or coach their former school's team, thereby making a connection with the present from the past. Also, putting so many schools in one building has effectively separated schools into tiny fiefdoms, separate and apart from the other schools. They are places which have "marked their territory" or "branded" it -DOE terminology not mine. The principals do not work together. Each one is out for his/her own school's success which engenders selfishness and self-centeredness. Finally, it denies both students and teachers of the opportunity to participate in the "world class" level of education the mayor claims his changes have created.

No comments:

Post a Comment