Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Bully Principal

Since the Kleinberg era the New York City schools have seen less and less veteran teachers working their way into administration. Almost gone is the 10+ year veteran teacher who becomes an administrator and after 5+ years as an Assistant Principal is finally given a Principal's job. While not all these old-time principals were good, most of them did work with the school staff and didn't forget their roots as a veteran teacher. However, under the Kleinberg regime of terror, we now have the "Leadership Academy Principal, who are usually young, with little or no classroom experience, and have difficulty working with school staff.

These Leadership Academy Principals seem to have one characteristic in common. They have little interpersonal skills and "bully" the staff when they don't get their own way. These bully principals harass veteran teachers and will have them removed from the school when given the opportunity. Further, these bully principals will only hire newbie teachers and try to intimidate them to do what the principal wants. Many of these schools are small schools and have a staff that is almost entirely made up of inexperienced teachers. Finally, because the Leadership Academy principal is told to run the school as a business and to work with Tweed, there is no loyalty to the school staff and all incidents, no matter how trivial or minor, is promptly reported to Tweed.

Well, the New York City Public School cannot be run as a business. The students are not widgets and the teachers are not cogs. Every student is different and a teacher must adjust their teaching style, based upon student composition. No one style or model works for every classroom and veteran principals understand that. However, the Leadership Academy Principal obviously doesn't and they demand that their teachers follow the approved model or else. Is in any wonder that in these schools there is anecdotal evidence of an increase in "Letters-To-The-File" (LIF), greater teacher turnover, and low morale. Many of these bully principals have signed on to be "empowerment principals", meaning even less DOE oversight.

You would think that these bully principals would be removed by Tweed. However, the DOE is very slow in removing principals, unlike teachers, principals are presumed innocent and are given every opportunity to correct their problems and even when they are eventually removed from the school 3 to 5 years down the road, just like a bad penny they show up as a principal in another school to continue their regime of terror in that school. Even Chapter Leaders are not immune to the bully Principal. In the New York Teacher, Ron Issacs wrote an article that shows how easy it is to remove a teacher, even a Chapter Leader!

It is time for the UFT stop with the editorials and start suing these bully principals and force Tweed to retreat into a more reasonable stance on what actions allows a principal to remove a teacher. Our union's inaction has caused both the ATR crises and overcrowded "rubber rooms". I have said it again and again, principal abuses will continue until there is a consequence to their abusive actions.


JUSTICE not "just us" said...

On August 28th a whole building is going to house reassigned teachers. This building is a former High School in Washington Heights. It has the capacity to hold about 500 people and has few windows. In the "holding pen" that I was reassigned to teachers were arriving in droves. We even had teachers arrive on the last day of the school year.

This "Pelican Bay(refrence to the California Prision) Maximum Security Rubber Room" will be very interesting. Issues:

1. Are they going to house all reassigned teachers there?
2. Are they going to "enforce" the rules?
3. Will they have a Principal and Assistant Principals to watch us?
4. How many Security Agents are they going to have?(They are there to "protect" DOE personal who come to serve us with papers and not to protect the inmates from each other!)
5. What will they say to the community that is overcrowded that they have a building housing teachers who do nothing but wait?

The DOE has created a "prison culture" and now they are going to have a maximum security Rubber Room. This is very dangerous to be in a building with 400 to 500 very angery teachers, adminstrators and other suppot staff who are just waiting. Personally, I would not want to be the "prison warden" of this "Pelican Bay Rubber Room" that is to open for the new school year.

It is getting very surreal. On vacation from teacher "death row" this is...

Chaz said...


It is my understanding that each borough has a "rubber room". The contract mandates that a teacher working in Queens would go to the Queens "rubber room". The exception is district 75 teachers, who all go to Queens and teachers who have had problems in their "rubber room".

proofoflife said...

just when I thought I could breathe and enjoy some peace of mind I receive a phone call from my bully principal. It seems that my position is being cut. According to Bully there is no money in the budget for literacy coach this year. Funny, when I read the budget I see extra funds. The UFT has not been of much help although I have become a target for bully defending the rights of the members. Bully is offering me a position as an AIS teacher. Bully continues to phrase this offering as "either you accept this position or you will be excessed" I have senority over 90% of teachers in my building. Slick move on Bully's part to wait until summer vacation to spring this on me. Principal's who Bully teachers do so because they have full rein to do so. This Bully takes all the credit for my work. I guess Bully is worried that others will eventually find out.So much for peace of mind.