The Crack Team is lying around the SBSB newsroom yesterday when an email from DOEnuts come in. DOEnuts had left witness protection, has something to say and needs a platform (He has reached out to other bloggers as well).
After checking to make sure their were no vulgarities in his message, nothing that might come across as offensive, assuring that any member of a family can read this without blushing, and getting a promise from NYCDOEnuts that he will take The Crack Team out for wings and beer, we are publishing his,- can we say manifesto? welcome back letter? essay? treatise?- here tonight.
Note: Bold, italics, and spelling corrections were added by The Crack Team
A friend at a party during the Bloomberg years:
Friend: “Hey Chuck, it’s nice to meet you”
Stranger: “Thanks. Sooooooo, you’re a teacher?”
Friend: “Yeah, man. It’s a great job. ‘Been at it for ten years now. What do you do?”
Stranger: “I’m a lawyer with DOE legal. I fire teachers for a living”
Some people don’t care about these exchanges. Others will pretend to care about them only when it serves their purpose. As a teacher -one who has lived through the Bloomberg days and has been a direct victim of his attacks from his minions- I care about them. That’s why I’m proud to be able to say that I will be joining with Francesco Portelos’ Don’t Tread on Education effort. One of the things Francesco is seeking to do is to defend teachers who have been attacked by ruthless administrators by educating them about the tactics that are being used to destroy teachers’ careers. This is an altogether worthy endeavor and I look forward to putting my best effort into it.
It’s also a very noble effort! It is a very noble thing to devote large chunks of your personal life so that others may benefit. This is especially true if you’re like Francesco and have experienced the true attacks the department can launch on your livelihood. Answering those attacks in such a way that the next guy doesn’t have to experience them is probably the most high minded thing that a person can do and Francesco is a hero to me (and many of us) for leading the way.
My own resume toward stopping the attacks on good teachers isn’t entirely empty. I have, in the past, written in defense of Francesco as well as another dear friend who’s life was turned upside down by the vicious attacks of Bloomberg’s employees. I have found proof that perhaps as many as 12,000 teachers have faced this process since just 2008 alone and I once spent months researching the use of state funds and uncovered as much as $37 million being spent just on the salaries of arbitrators who hear and decide the cases the DOE make as it asks to fire teachers. I’ve written and researched court cases, went and watched oral arguments and have pleaded with colleagues (some at MORE) to reassess their opinions of teachers who had been accused -all in the hopes of supporting teachers who were attacked. I don’t think I’ve done nearly enough toward this effort. Certainly not as much as true, dedicated heroes like Norm Scott, Betsy Combier (oh and here), James Eterno as well as heroes who blog under monikers like, NYCEducator Assailedteacher, Perdido Street School , AccountableTalk, Raginghorse, Chaz’ School Daze, SouthBronxSchool and Francesco Portelos’ have done. They’ve done more –and in a more thorough and thoughtful way- for a longer period time than an ant like me ever could. I’m a spec on the battlefield of defending teachers. But I’m an honest, forthright spec who knows he can no longer be sit back and watch a department try to fire teachers for things like:
· Posting one thoughtless comment on Facebook after work (from a lady who is a wonderful teacher and whom I’m proud to call my friend today).
· Bluffing: making students feel that their antics in the boys room was being filmed in an effort to get them to stop putting toilet paper in the bathroom
· Allowing an angry parent to go home with a note written on a napkin
· Farting in class
· Calling himself an asshole in public
· Making one comment to a female teacher (despite an immediate apology continued apologies since)
· Telling a student he was so proud of her test score he could kiss her (in a public class, with clear intent of showing pride for the good work she had done).
These aren’t made up stories, folks! These are true stories from the Bloomberg years. Career teachers –beloved by the colleagues and their students- have faced firings for these precise actions. If there is a practice in the Department of Education that must end, the enfettered harassment of teachers by cold and callous lawyer-driven system is one of them and I am very blessed to have been asked to be a part of it.
My intent is to devote every non-working, non-parenting, waking hour to Francesco’s effort to educate teachers and help them defend themselves. I will be skipping my second Master’s Degree program for this effort (I can’t study for my 30 above and spend real efforts defending teachers and if I have to choose one I choose to help protect teachers), but I’m cool with it.
Just one thing: If I’m going to dedicate a large part of my adult life to this effort, I want to make sure that the teachers who I work to defend are really decent people and real teachers. We have a hard truth to face before we get started and it’s one that I’ve never publicly faced before: There are bad teachers in this system. There are, sad to say, some teachers I won’t be able to bring myself to defend. I won’t, for instance, defend the teacher who snuck Heroin into a courthouse. I know he got his job back and I hope he does well in the classroom. But I’m old fashioned and I don’t think drug users who carry their drugs into public buildings, are good role models. And then there is the obvious stuff like inappropriateness with staff or students, stealing, threatening or hurting anyone. I can’t defend that. But there are also a few things I won’t stand to defend either. Therefore, I would like to submit the following list of standards that teachers need to reach in order to earn my defense of them. I can -and will- work to defend you, as long as you don’t do any of the following things:
You can’t bash or disparage virtually all of the other teachers within your own building and make them all your enemy. It takes a special kind of contrarian to do this. Usually one who isn’t well.
Sorry, DOEnuts doesn’t go-to-bat for crazies.
You can’t bash students that you teach and claim that you ‘could give a sh__ less about them’ in the teachers’ lounge. Kids are the only reason I have a job, bub. I believe in them. You should too.
You can’t be “that guy” who has no relationship with teachers you’ve worked with for twenty years. I worked with this guy who comes from a different school and when ATRs from his old school come in a stay for a week, they ask us to help them avoid this guy like the plague. No lie! We’re stashing people in the back of classrooms and work romos because they’re totally freaked out by this guy. That’s not a good sign. I hope “that guy” doesn’t get himself into any trouble, but lord knows I won’t stick up for him.
While I’m on the thought, you can’t earn the reputation of being a dangerous, deceitful, lying snake in the grass. This poor guy has been described -by his former colleagues- with words like “spiteful”, “petty” and “dangerous. DOENuts doesn’t have the time, nor near the inclination to help you out if you’re like that).
Avoid being an ingrate to friends who have helped you out (you know, man. If a friend helps you get a job at a school or something and, I’m just saying, the first thing you do is tell everyone that he is a “piece of sh__” and “didn’t invent the wheel” and is a terrible “excuse of a teacher”, then I can’t stand by you (hey, the last guy who stood by you got a knife in his back. What’d ya think I’m going to get?)
Repeatedly curse in the hallway in front of students (I have a thing about this. Please don’t do it).
Work hard to have other teachers do your work for you. I have a thing about this, too. Please don’t do it. Other teachers aren’t there to do your work, are they? Are they getting part of your check for;
- Writing lesson plans
- Tallying report card grades
- Taking daily attendance
- Calling parents
Or any host of other things? I didn’t think so. Earn your check, man!
Finally, I can’t help you out if you’re a bully. I hate bullies. Hey man, everyone wants that special parking spot or that primo classroom. Bullying your way into getting it isn’t going to help me to help you. DOENuts doesn’t help bullies who have been bullied.
If you don’t do any of these things, then I can defend you. Mind you, If you’ve done one or two of these things, then I will still be absolutely be happy to defend you! But if you look deep inside and honestly know that you have done more than three, or even more than four of these things, then you shouldn’t count on me. DOENuts defends the ones with good hearts and pure intentions. My sympathies lie with them and if you’re not one of us, well then, DOENuts could give a crap less about you.
So, in short, if you’re there for kids and there for your colleagues, and a half way OK human being, I will not rest until you have been defended by the new group I work for.
But if you are one of these people who could care less about anyone in the world but yourself;. if you use people. If you lie to people. And if you hurt the ones around you, I won’t stand by you. I may even put the blade in your chest myself.
I digress!! I have a message for the folks who wake up early every day, work hard on behalf of students and have been marked for an Accuse and Remove by the department, It’s a message that speaks loud and clear and does not mince words: You are not alone! Francesco Portelos is one his way (and he’s got a blogger from the Apocalypse riding shotgun!)