Thursday, January 17, 2013

I am "Paul"

You don't get to meet a lot of really good people in this "business" of education. The type of people where you know they will have your back, be honest with you, and hope for the best. Two of these people are David Greene and Diane Ravitch.

The first time I met Dave, I got an instant respect for him when he put me in my place for generalizing TFA teachers. I was like, "Wow, this guy says what is own his mind!" But it was not only that, it was the encyclopedic knowledge he has of education and the history of education in his extraordinary mind that he possesses that is so amazing and unique. But, more importantly, he is what my people call a mensch.

Diane Ravitch, I have met once. But it is always been a kick and an honor when she retweets something I had shared on Twitter or when last month she linked to what I had written on these pages twice.

Last month, Dave in his blog, DCG Mentoring wrote about a teacher named Paul. Diane Ravitch, in turn last week linked and shared the story as well.

I am Paul.

From the words of David Greene; 

Yesterday I received an emergency phone call from an experienced teacher in a Bronx school who received his first ever “U” on an observation report.

Emotionally overwrought with fear and anger, it took all I could do to calm him down and get him to figure out how he could resolve this issue and continue to teach and at the same time maintain his principles while having to deal with his principal.

She, as authoritarian personality as they come, simply follows NYC DOE/Teachers College orders in FORCING her underlings to follow the lockstep TC workshop model lesson plan. Because he veered and used different materials and interacted differently with his kids than the plan permits he was given a “U”.

It was quite evident after seeing her 20-page write-up that there was something more here. Her discussions of the 2 pre-observation were filled with evidence of her obviously one-track mind. Do it this way. I will not accept any of your alternatives.

Her most consistent and often repeated criticism is that he did not use everything the Model presenter from TC demonstrated in the 3 short demonstrations he attended.

It as if everything that came before NYCDOE/TC’s workshop version of teaching was anathema in this new pious world of top down education. By the way…it is a terrible way to teach if used as the one and only lesson plan every single day.

But that is probably why he received this “U” in the first place. You see, he is not passive. He is not one to just follow orders. He speaks up and out. He argues. He was being punished for that more than his not following the lesson plan.

He expressed to me that he was ready to give up, to get out, to simply go to the rubber room, or be made into an ATR (absent teacher reserve).

That is the new leadership’s plan. Veterans: If you don’t follow the rules you have two choices. Retire or be exiled. This way “The Big Talking Heads” of education can take in their fresh young faces and train them to be, as my friend said, Star Wars “Clones” obeying the orders of the dark side.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hunger Strike Saves PS 154 in the Bronx!!!

The first post of the New Year and the first post since a hunger strike had been announced. Lots to tell, lots to explain.

The hunger strike was in support of PS 154 to keep it from closing and The Crack Team here at SBSB won. PS 154 is not closing thanks to the hunger strike, even an abbreviated one at that.

I have learned that when one announces a hunger strike, one should notify one's spouse, or at least talk it over with said spouse. Last Wednesday, the 2nd, when I got home I got quite an earful from my wife and just as importantly, from my doctor. My doctor informed me that in my condition the lack of food will kill me much sooner than a normal hunger strike would.

So in essence I had to abort the hunger strike after 12 hours, but not the perception of the hunger strike. As one person told me long ago, "perception is reality," and the perception was that there was to be a hunger strike to the end to save 154 and it worked. They blinked first.

Also, what saved the school was the exposure of those in charge got here on this blog concerning the what led to 154 being put on the closure list. Check it out here, here, here, and here.

So is PS 154 out of the woods? Not likely. From what we have been told, a school does not get closed the first time it is on the list. We can still be on it next year, and with the new non-zoned schools now the the norm in District 7, not only will we see the enrollment drop but with that the money as well.

So is the Titanic sinking? Not quite, but it is listing to the side a bit. Resumes should be gotten ready and thank God the Open Market will soon be online.