SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Same Principal, The Same Middle School, A Different Teacher

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Same Principal, The Same Middle School, A Different Teacher

The hits just coming in about this principal at that middle school in Brooklyn.

This is now the third "manifesto" The Crack Team has received from staff members. This principal reminds me of Bobby Pellit, Jason Sudekis' boss in "Horrible Bosses." This stuff just can't be made up.

Next up, a current teacher at that middle school, Irma Rabinowitz (Highlights in red added by The Crack Team).

To whom it may concern:

This is to express my objection to the oppressive and punitive measures applied throughout the 2013-2014 school year at my school.

I have been teaching English and or Social Studies for at least sixteen years at my school. I have gone throughout these years and enjoyed a distinguished career. However, this year I suffered under an administrative staff that offered no materials, and no support regarding the children who disrupted the educational environment in my class every day.

I started the year teaching English and Social Studies to two (2) sixth grade classes. By the end of the first marking period my second sixth grade class was taken away from me, and I was assigned a seventh grade class. I received notification of this fact incidentally at a Departmental Meeting. I was shocked, and no one in the administrative staff spoke with me about this major change. I then spoke to the Principal and expressed my concerns that this was outside my license and that this undermined my work that I had already established with my students. The Principal told me he had to do this because there were not enough sixth graders for our floor. I now look at this as a deception on his part. He could have split the classes equally between myself and my colleague who was also teaching ELA and Social Studies.

I was assigned this seventh grade class that I was expected to teach NC English Language Arts and Core Social Studies. This class was haphazardly put together by the administrative staff with all of the discipline problems in the building. I received no support from the administrative staff with materials to teach this class especially Social Studies. I did receive a classroom set of seventh grade Social Studies textbooks. I had to beg to get a Teacher Editions to that seventh grade textbook. I received one copy of a seventh grade ELA workbook I could use to work with this class from my late colleague Bud Abbott, and I purchased the teacher’s edition for that work book myself. 

By the end of them rearranging the sixth grade classes and creating this seventh grade class, I ended up with two classes that contained poorly behaved students with parents who were mostly unresponsive to my phone calls. The students constantly disrupted the educational environment, and were extremely disrespectful and combative. I am a strong teacher, however I never dealt with disruption at this level before. I received no help from the administration in dealing with these classes. It was my problem, and I was expected to deal with it alone.

Throughout the rest of the school year every child added to my class was a discipline problem that added to the dysfunction. I had one particular student who would yell profanities at the top of his lungs, and refused to stay in his assigned seat. He often interrupted and disrupted my lessons. I felt helpless.

Now the Principal contends that I am a developing teacher and told me he is giving me a “U.” He claims he offered me assistance with regard to my classes in the form of a student teacher. If I was so incompetent why not offer me help in the form of a master teacher rather than a situation that was more of a mentoring situation. By the way, I was assaulted for the first time in my sixteen years of teaching by one of those students trying prevent this student from assaulting another student in class. The student teacher was there and like me was incapable of helping with a situation that was my assistant principal’s responsibility to deal with.I am accused of not caring for my students, and not handling them effectively, when my Principal and the Assistant Principals did not do anything to handle or curtail the discipline problems on my floor. These students were empowered to behave anyway they wanted by the administrative staff. Meanwhile the students who wanted to learn and worked with me had to sit silently and watch the daily spectacle. I feel my hands were tied. 

I end the year feeling abused and disheartened. I went to a UFT meeting and heard the Chancellor speak. She gave me hope that after the dark Bloomberg years teachers will be treated with consideration and respect. Especially, those who have been teaching a long time as I have.

I approved this message and thank you for your consideration.

Thank you Irma for your candor.

We are sure this is not the end.


Richard Reuther said...

This is very typical of the tactics used by principals to create "churn." Without regard to the quality of teaching (which in all likelihood they are incapable of assessing anyway) they use these tactics to target a teacher whom they want to remove but have NO EVIDENCE as to why. My wife was assigned 5 of the worst behaved students in the school (after the counselling staff recommended that they NEVER be scheduled into a class with any of the other 5) during the LAST PERIOD of the day. Being the experienced professional that she was, she handled the situation as best she could. ALL previous administrators in our building SUPPORTED their teaching staff. However, it is not unusual for those coming down the pike now to use their power to destroy rather than support. Complaining to upper management does no good because they have ordered this behavior and hired for people who will do it. It is disgraceful behavior on the part of both upper admin and principal. School boards and parents across the nation should be the ones who put a stop to it since the professional teachers are routinely ignored and abused to the point of leaving the profession. This behavior will destroy the public schoolhouse.

Unknown said...

Sad, I see it occur every day. Adults using kids to get back at adults and kids. Sad. - 10 yr sub

harvey said...

Sounds right. Two years ago my AP made up an 8th period class for me consisting of 9th 10th 11th and 12th graders and 7 of them were sped with some major emotional problems. I had been teaching then for 26 years so I "laughed in the face of danger" and said bring it on. It was exhausting but I made them mine and the AP had to give me a satisfactory observation, He never did it again but I took the deal and retired this year. I pity this teacher because it's even harder to get order in middle school classes. I hope she makes it.