Friday, April 23, 2010
The DOE's Principals First & Children Last Policy
Over the tenure of the Bloomberg/Klein Administration the New York City Schools have seen an increase in Principal abuse of their staff as Tweed has given these principals more control of their school. Many of these principals are coming out of the "Leadership Academy" with little actual classroom experience, some not even tenured! Moreover, these principals have been told that they are the CEO of their school and run the school as a business. The problem is that the students are not widgets and the staff cogs. Every child is different and have individual learning needs, while among the staff, their are various teaching styles. The result is chaos at many of the schools and can result in the unfair removal of a teacher.
How many times have I heard about a teacher being removed from his or her class, usually instigated by the Principal, only to have no qualified substitute to handle the class. This results in an Administrator to come into the class of unruly students and say "if Ms. Jones was here, you wouldn't act this way". Of course if the Administrator had not targeted Ms. Jones in the first place, the class would not be a problem. This is called "collateral damage" and results in the DOE encouraged "children last" policy that has swept the New York City Public Schools.
You might ask why would a Principal deliberately hurt the students by removing a well qualified teacher? The answer is simple. Its about the Principal's power and control to impose their will over the staff. Any teacher criticism can and usually does target that teacher. Is it little wonder their are between 600 and 700 teachers in the "rubber rooms"? Many of the "Leadership Academy" principals are insecure and rule their schools through intimidation and fear. Therefore, they find any reason possible to push out senior teachers who are outspoken and defend the rights of the students and staff. The DOE allows these principals to gets rid of the teacher while enforcing the intimidation and fear aspect to others.
Another reason is the budget. Many schools are suffering from significant budget cuts of up to 5%. Therefore, many of the Principal's pet programs would need to be cut. However, if the Principal can drum up frivolous or bogus charges against a senior teacher, the school can save up to $100,000 after carrying the reassigned teacher's salary for only 60 days. Quite a temptation indeed.
Finally, just plain "age discrimination" as many of these insecure Principals want to hire "young, newbie teachers" who don't question idiotic decisions. That is why the "rubber rooms" have a majority of teachers 50 years or older.
Every time I hear Chancellor Joel Klein state that he has a "children first" policy I can only laugh and say when does it help the children when you remove a quality teacher because of a Principal's dislike of the teacher. To me that is Principal first and children last.