Sunday, March 16, 2014
Chancellor Carmen Farina Must Clean House At The DOE...Now!
Chancellor Carmen Farina has stumbled her way through the first 75 days of her tenure. She experienced a "Cathie Black moment", backtracked on the charter school issue, and has not taken decisive action against the DOE leadership that protected principal Marcella Sills and other "bad principals". Moreover, Ms. Farina is faced with the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott toxic ideology that is pervasive throughout the highest levels of the DOE. A case in point when the new Chancellor discussed with her staff about putting the ATRs back in the classroom, the DOE leadership immediately leaked it to the press so that the newspapers could write editorials calling the ATRs "bad teachers". In response, the Chancellor backed down, for now, about the ATRs returning to the classroom.
Chancellor Carmen Farina needs to understand that she must do a "spring cleaning" and get rid of the stench of the Bloomberg Era that permeates the DOE, especially at Tweed. It's no secret that there is a legacy of mistrust between the DOE and the teachers in the classroom caused by the Bloomberg education policy. Most teachers believe the DOE is the enemy and care little for what's best for the public school students. Instead the classroom teachers believe the DOE has made teaching in the classroom a hostile experience. Furthermore, teachers believe that the DOE has instituted a "gotcha system" that is trying to terminate or force veteran teachers out of the system "by any and all means possible". This adversarial relationship must change and the only way it can happen is for the Chancellor to do a through "spring cleaning". To expect the existing DOE leadership who have been indoctrinated for 12 years under the vile Bloomberg Administration to change course is naive.
The Chancellor should vastly reduce the 700 lawyers and 300 accountability experts that has greatly contributed to the "gotcha system mentality" at the DOE. An example of the vindictive mentality at the DOE is the persecution of superstar teacher and blogger, Fransesco Portelos, who wrote a spoof piece on "How to hack the DOE payroll portal and give yourself a raise". How did the DOE react to this spoof? They filed a criminal complaint of "Official Misconduct" with the NYPD who asked Mr. Poirtelos to turn himself in and was eventually jailed for 33 hours. The loads of paperwork and obscene data mining that takes up too much of a teacher's time and is basically a waste of resources is a direst result of all these useless "accountability experts" and the consultants that the DOE has employed. The Chancellor shoulkd take a page from the new Police Commissioner, William Bratton, who has forced three top NYPD officials to retire and moved around over one hundred top officers who couldn't be fired but are now encouraged to either resign or work in an entirely different position and away from their power source in a "do no harm" move..
Presently, the DOE acts as a "bully" when it comes to the teaching staff. Carmen Farina can't simply"rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic"and expect that the very same people who treated the schools and the teachers with disrespect and as disposable cogs and the students as widgets in a perverse business model to earn the trust of parents, students, or teachers. Only a complete "spring cleaning" by the Chancellor is necessary and instead of a staff of non-educators, only long-term successful educators should be at the highest levels at the DOE. Moreover, the Chancellor should streamline the bloated DOE Bureaucracy, reduce the use of the high-priced consultants and eliminate the useless and money sucking "Children First Networks", the unaccountable accountability and legal units, and finally, the remainder of the "gang of eighteen" that still inhabits the highest levels of the DOE.
Its no secret that I consider Chancellor Carmen Farina a disappointment so far. However, to be fair, this school year is a transition period and the real changes will be put in place by September of this year. My advise to the Chancellor is to stay firm and bring the joy of teaching back to the classroom for the sake of the students and please don't praise "Common Core" when it doesn't work without a completely understood and tested curriculum that goes with it.