You thought I forgot about the blog. I have been busy. It's been over a week since I have shared the deep recesses of my mind. Nothing really has really grabbed my attention. Until just the other day.
But I came across the following story about a teacher that it has taken the DOE 8 years to fire quite by accident. I think it was in the official mouthpiece of the Department of Education, Gotham Schools. But anyway, it was printed this past Sunday, July 3 and being that I was in the wilds of Columbia County Sunday, I completely missed it. I know, I know. I am digressing yet again.
Susan Edelman wrote that Murry Bergtraum HS Spanish teacher Yvonne Chalom was convicted on 32 count of aggravated harassment, yet the DOE did not feel it had enough to fire her. So it found grounds, it accused her of taking photos of a school clock without permission, throwing a temper tantrum in a room-assignment mixup, and calling an assistant principal a “bitch.” OK. The old David Pakter ploy.
But Edelman whined on how Ms Chalom received her salary, how it cost the DOE $1 million dollars, how her 3020a hearings took two years and two years to get a ruling, how she sat in the rubber room and did nothing, and how arbitrator James Cashen charged the DOE $900 a day, and gave the lawyers a year to submit closing arguments.
But Ms Chalom is not the problem here. Yet, the Post decided to make her an example and the Post decided to use her photo. She is not the problem. And mind you, I am not getting into her guilt on innocence here. She has every right to expect due process. She has every right to use due process. Hell, look at the Casey Anthony situation. It took three years almost to bring her to trial.
But there are two issues here that need to be addressed and neither concern Ms Chalom. The problems are the system.
The first problem is James Cashen. Mr Cashen charges $900 a day to come to New York and arbitrate 3020a hearings. Mr Cashen also lives in Hudson, NY. Ever been to Hudson? It is a two and a half hour drive from New York. Who pays for Mr Cashen's accommodations? Mr Cashen out of the $900? Mr Cashen has a vested interest to late this case drag on as long as possible. Remember the OJ trial? The prosecution did not screw it up. It was Judge Ito. Cashen let this go on as long as possible, Cashen was in control. He could have moved things along quickly, but he didn't. Why wasn't he made the subject of the Post article? Why wasn't his photo pasted in the paper?
Now onto the other issue. In the Post article, Edelman writes that, "Ms Chalom,who lives near Ground Zero, claimed she suffered from post-traumatic stress after 9/11." Let's give Ms Chalom the benefit of the doubt here. The crack team here at SBSB has delved into the innards of the DOE and the UFT to list programs that are offered to teachers that are in distress. The list is as follows:
Yep, there ain't anything to list. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Where can a teacher turn to that is suffering from depression? From PTSD? From alcoholism? Drug abuse? From physical abuse? Think about this. As a teacher, when 8 30 hits, you are on, and you have to keep that smile, that happy face on until 2 50. You have no choice. And if you dare to show weakness, dare to bring your troubles to school, dare to open up to the wrong colleague, or open up to the wrong administrator you are screwed, blued and tattooed.
NYPD has offerings and help for cops who battle alcohol. And these are people who carry guns. NYPD has help for cops who are involved in spousal abuse. Why isn't the DOE and UFT at the forefront of setting up programs for teachers who are fighting mental duress? What harm would it do to help that teacher who is fighting depression? Or alcoholism? Wouldn't it make the teachers more productive, less prone to taking sick days? Teachers are people too. If we are pricked we bleed, if we are tickled we laugh, if we are wronged we fight back.
There are one too many teachers working without a net. One too many teachers that need help and have no where to go. One too many teachers who know if they ask for help, their career will be over. It is time for the DOE and the UFT to do the right thing and have a support system in place for these teachers.