SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

Remember the olden days of the DOE? Well, not the DOE, the BOE, pre-2003. Come around children and listen to a story about the days when things were not quite right, and things were not quite wrong. All depends on how you look at issues. Like is the glass half empty or half full.

There used to be thirty two districts, and thirty two school boards in the City of New York. In a sense there still is. Yes there were lots of problems. School boards traveling to Hawaii on special educational junkets, principal jobs gotten for $10,000 in small bills inside a small envelope, rampant cronyism, lack of accountability. Hey these were problems. I admit it, and a band aid wasn't the salve to heal the problem.

So along comes Il Duce Bloomy. He knows how to resolve the problem. Mayoral control. OK, why not. So he convinces Albany to give him all the power to control the schools. He goes out looking for a Mini-Me and find Joel "The Animal" Klein. Mini Me wishes to streamline the DOE, get rid of waste, etc... OK still going along. What does Mini Me do? He breaks up the system into ten regions by combining districts. Each region now has about 100-120 schools. Makes sense. Lets take a district with 20-30 schools and make it bigger. But then he makes the regions smaller by having schools in a "network" with an Local Instructional Superintendent. But this LIS is then another layer of bureaucratic feces. And this LIS needs to be paid as well as he staff. Figure about ten LIS to a region times ten. I will let you the reader do the math.

But the big things now are in centralized locations further away from the people they serve. If you are a parent who lives on 125th St and Lexington Ave you know must travel all the way downtown to 28th St to get help. Makes sense so far? Oh I am sure it does in some warped way. Oh yeah before I forget there is still a figurehead Superintendent in each district along with some kind of weakened Jedi Council and each school now has a paid parent's advocate. Does anyone see the saving of money so far? Or at least the multiple layers added on?

Each region has it's own personnel office, support, etc... I guess that is where the saving came from. Too many duplicated jobs throughout the districts. Hey I am down with that. I can dig it. But now instead of serving a small amount of schools these people are over extended and serve many schools. Highly illogical.

So what happens two years ago? Everything is broken up again! No we have schools that belong to nobody because they are empowered. The LIS doesn't work for the DOE, but works for and serves at the pleasure of the principals in the network. Not only do you have the principals drunk with power, but the people who are supposed to be watching them, keeping an eye on them are paid by the principals themselves. Are these LIS' loyalty to principals or the students? The fox is watching the hen house.

Now there are LSO's, DSO, Essos I can't keep track. But what I can keep track of is how the system is getting further away from serving the needs of the students and the families in the community. There were strong support staffs in the DO's and they were there to assist the schools with professional development at the drop of a hat. If a parent had an issue that parent knew exactly where to go and whom to see. Where is the after school PD that you used to see. It is gone. Where are the staff developers who lectured at conferences and were experts in their fields. Now their are "coaches" who are training teachers after five years of teaching themselves. Coaches? I was expecting Don Zimmer when I heard this.

How is this better way better? Who does it serve? I think it serves the consultants we keep on hearing about at Tweed. A lot of "keep busy" work for them and the cronies that hire them.

All we have now is the captain of the Titanic rearranging the deck chairs while the ship be sinking.

1 comment:

rico said...
School Safety Act Press Conference
Aug 23, 2008 Support The Youth, Ensure their Futures, Urge New York City Council Members to sign on and support this Act. Let's break the School To Prison Pipeline