Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Disappearing Of The Teachers Cafeteria Food Service In The Remaining Large Comprehensive High Schools Is A Real Shame.

Over the last decade it has been no secret that the Bloomberg Administration has made a point in trying to destroy and close down the large comprehensive high schools in the City and has unfortunately succeeded very well in achieving this goal.  Even the few comprehensive large high schools that have survived are still targets, remember the turnaround school fiasco?.  Now we find out that the DOE has apparently shortchanged the large comprehensive schools of much needed resources while still fully funded the Bloomberg small schools. That required the large comprehensive high schools to cut services, be it staff, after school programs, or services.

One of the services that has been eliminated was the teacher cafeteria food service.  In the Borough of Queens there are only two high schools that still have teacher cafeteria food service  Some schools like Bayside High School have not only closed their teacher cafeteria food service but eliminated the teacher cafeteria entirely. Now you might think that the elimination of the teacher cafeteria food service is no big deal and saves much needed school resources in an ever tightening school budget.  However, the elimination of the teacher cafeteria food service has had a demoralizing effect on school staff.  For teachers, it meant that they would need to bring in their lunch since they only have 45 minutes for lunch and going out of the school to get something to eat is out of the question.  Therefore, many teachers waited for their school day to end before getting something to eat and lacked the energy to effectively teach their late classes. Moreover, the teacher's cafeteria allowed the teachers from different departments to interact in a casual setting and exchange information and gossip about the school.  Finally, the teacher's cafeteria food was nutritious and reasonably priced, this allowed teachers not only to socialize with each other but to restore much needed energy into their bodies to be a more effective teacher for the afternoon.

While to many the loss of the teachers cafeteria food service may not be a big issue.  However,  for the staff at the large comprehensive high schools it is a symptom of the thousand small cuts that eventually destroys the school and the education with it and that is a real shame.

17 comments:

Pissed Off said...

Don't forget the long walk down the hall to sign out every time you leave building. That takes a big cut of your 45 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Not just teacher cafeteria's but teacher conference rooms that the city council years ago allocated money for at least one telephone for the teachers room. Many schools have no such room made available to them.

Zeno said...

Same thing in my school. The charter school took our cafeteria/lounge for a yoga studio. We are now sent to a small conference room w locked windows, no room, no ventilation, easy access to passing students, three crowded tables next to the freakin' principal's office. Jeez. Not only that, I now see strange faces in the lounge...could it be charter school teachers making themselves home in our lounge? There is no computer there, no phone just the endless rows of unused text books from the different and improved way of doing things.Ugh.

Ricochet said...

You had a separate cafeteria for teachers? Wow.

Let's see - same cafeteria as the kids and teachers and kids have a 20 minute lunch.

Chaz said...

Ricochet:

Historically, the NYC public schools had always had teacher cafeterias and the large high schools had a separate food service. Of course when Mayor Bloomberg came in his goal was to close the large high schools and convert them into small and Charter schools.

To achieve his goals, he cut budgets at the large high schools and as a result, many school services have been eliminated, including the teachers cafeteria service.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, True about Bayside High School, but being there for close to 15 years, I must say that it is led by a wonderful and very intelligent leader who has brought many positives to the school in what has been a dim mood as far as education reform goes in the city. One of those changes has been more than sufficient areas where teachers can gather and eat lunch, use computers and plan with their co teachers. Yes our cafeteria has become obsolete but we have many other areas to go (two staff computer rooms, as well as a large second floor lounge for teachers). All specific subject teachers have one common prep period in common during the day - I thought that was brilliant on the principal's part - this means for example all ELA teachers have one prep in which they all do not teach or do a circular six assignment - the period is used to meet with other teachers, share or work together. Good post as always, but needed to shine some further light on my own specific school. Be well!

Chaz said...

Anon:

Seriously. I have heard mixed reviews at best about the Principal but I will take your word about him.

The common prep period I assume is one day a week instead of your circular six. If so that is a good idea assuming all subject area teachers actually have the same period off.

Pissed Off said...

I haen't heard such good reviews of pricipal at Bayside from a parent. Since he is in place, he has done away with the school's honor program, kids are being given anything that fits and has room. I know a tenth grader who was given senior economics because he had a hole and their was a spot for him.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, The common prep is five days a week. Yes, we all have a circular six but every teacher in his or her respective department has one common prep period off at the same time Monday to Friday. Last year my circular six was 7th period, but everyday I had 6th period free to meet with anyone in my department I wanted to because we all had it free. Our principal made it point that all subject teachers teaching a specific subject have the same prep period. To break it down further in my case ELA - well there are no ELA classes 6th period because all the ELA teachers have their prep that period. Anyone who tells you differently is clueless or does not work at the school.

Of course people's opinions will vary. Mine is only one but one who knows a lot of what is happening throughout the system - I don't "live under a rock." Yet knowing what I know, I don't get that particular sense from my school or the principal. There are people who will always complain about something - trust me I have a wife - but as someone who loathes deformers, who bleeds Union and tries to educate those in my school who do "live under a rock" in terms of what is actually happening - it just doesn't meld with the principal of my school. I know he has actually saved it from any harm and even helped it gain a status as one of the city's better schools (see the Daily News Rankings #39). I'm not kissing the guy'a ass - just telling you how I feel about the situation. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Chaz,
Always enjoy reading and the enlightenment.
This post is testimony to the need to keep experienced faculty on staff. I am a 9th year teacher, formally from private industry who understands and believes in the continued need for unions.

That said, the exchange you had with the last post re: common planning brings to question a recent SBO at my school. CL SBOd, if you will, homeroom, then agreed with principal to have C6 team meetings during lunch one day, and pd on danielson during lunch another day, and the asked for a C6 the other 3 days for our prof. Period. Is this proper? Please speak to this. Our DR is clueless of the contract, his answer to everything is "principals can do whatever they wanr.". I am not kidding. He said that.
Thank you in advance for any help.

Anonymous said...

Of course, you are assuming there is someplace near to get lunch. At Newtown high school. you need to walk down a hill to get to the nearest Chinese food or deli, so you have to get your lunch before your day starts unless you have double period prep. Not sure if the cafeteria still exists there. The best example of strange food operations is the New York Harbor School. The teachers's room had a vending machine and the water on the island is not potable since the Coast Guard left- this is what I was told. Every drink or food item [even coffee] one wanted needed to be procured from Lower Manhattan before you got on the ferry. Of course, you can not leave the island until 4 o'clock and you had been there since 7:30AM. They had a students' cafeteria but I am not sure how that was handled. This was the closest I got to teaching in a remote outpost and in my career at the NYCDOE or whatever they are calling themselves these days, I had been in some remote outposts- Queens High school Superintendent's office on the side of the LIE and the closest walkable food source was a gas station.

The fundamental thing that is misunderstood is that the best and the brightest will not work in places that lack amenities. The private sector trips over themselves trying to make people comfortable so they will work hard and stay around and the NYCDOE thinks that people will stay around for a minimum of two years under these conditions. They do not need TFA. They need missionaries and I do not know too many missionaries who graduate from the IVY's. And even missionaries need to eat.

Chaz said...

Anon 11:03


Thanks for clarifying the common prep period. I must assume that since the common prep period is your prep period, are you required to meet every day or can you work on your own,lesson planning, photocopying, grading, etc?

Anon 8:45

Your lunch period is your own and the Principal has no right to use the lunch period for his or her meetings. The meetings can either be before or after school or during your professional or preparation periods.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, we are NOT required to meet with anyone that period, but those who team teach do use that period for common planning time. It's a more common sense solution to what had been occuring years ago when team teachers hardly ever shared the same time and would have to communicate sometimes at night. Do we meet with eachother everyday for the whole duration of the period? Of course not. Sometimes it can be for only a few minutes, but the time is always there. It's a common prep. Teacher's can use it for anything they want (grading, making copies,having a snack, meeting with other teachers and discussing etc etc). Be well!

Anonymous said...

To clarify, I am also a teacher at Bayside. The teachers' cafe is still open but Food Services cut their people from it. I heard principal and UFT leader are going in on refrigerators and microwaves along with better vending machines for the room.
Like posted before, we also have teacher lounge, teacher library and teacher computer rooms to use and the common prep times are a stroke of genus.

Anonymous said...

I teach at Bayside. Food Services pulled their people from the teachers' cafe. I heard principal and UFT leader are going in on microwave,, big frig and new vending machines to fill the loss. Cafe is still open as are tr lounge, tr computer room, tr library.
Re: the prep period being algned by department- stroke of genius. Chaz, I read u all the time but sometimes you got to admit when a mensch is a mensch- even a principal.

Anonymous said...

Chaz
Read you every week- you are essential. First time I remember you mentioning my school. I complained to Food Services and they told me they closed the service in teacher cafe. Told me principal is picking up the tab for microwave, refrig and microwave to keep the room as staff cafe even without their service. Me? I eat in the teacher lounge anyway.

Anonymous said...

Why don't people start filing appeals (or insisting that the UFT or NYSUT file them) with the Commissioner of Education under §310 of the Education Law within thirty days of the action that they're complaining about?

If the Commissioner doesn't grant the appeal, then his decision can, in turn, be appealed to the NYS Supreme Court in Albany County under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

There is so much complaining, whining, and moaning that is going on about many different things that occur in the NYC school system, yet these perceived problems are not being brought to the Commissioner's attention.

http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/appeals