Chancellor Fariña: Problems scurrying around Tweed
One of the easiest ills to fix is all over Tweed: lawyers who serve no good purpose.
I have been writing for months that things would improve under Fariña: “Things under de Blasio/Fariña will get better for the schools, students, and teachers of NYC. They might get a whole lot better. They certainly won’t get worse.” (here, and here, and again here).
But so far, very little improvement has filtered down to the schools.
It’s becoming frustrating.
Certainly our leaders downtown tell us that the new people at the top are completely different. They can work with them. But in the schools? What has changed? And what Bloomberg evil has been undone? We are bracing ourselves for reports on tenure and extensions of tenure. Maybe that is getting better? But that’s just being hopeful; I’ve heard no such thing.
Last week New Action, my caucus, introduced a resolution to undo the mess Bloomberg made out of school parking – in part we chose a lower priority item specifically because it would have immediate impact (well, September) IN THE SCHOOLS. And it something that the new administration can agree to outside of contract negotiations.
But one of the easiest problems to fix is all over Tweed: lawyers who serve no useful purpose. There are hundreds of them. Like court-packing was intended, Bloomberg (and Klein/Black/Walcott) lawyer-packed Tweed to help overwhelm educators. Decisions got made, policy decided in an atmosphere that was dense with non-eduators, heavily anti-union and anti-public education. Their culture oozed all over the system, but especially in the dark corners of CFNs and 52 Chambers. Principals learned “to call legal” to decline teacher requests. Legal was associated with unfair discipline, unfair ratings, unfair hearings, etc, etc. Legal is enmeshed in school closings, in evaluation, in clogging arbitration. The lawyers are a reservoir of the evil that Bloomberg brought to the system.
Were all of them hired under Bloomberg? The vast majority, if not all. We did not need that number before, and we do not need them now. I don’t care if they are fired, if their positions are eliminated, or if the entire departments they run are shut down. The Accountability Office needs two people, not two hundred.
Francesco Portelos is calling a rally for today (June 10, 2014), 4:30, in front of Tweed, for a “house cleaning.” A house cleaning is the right idea.
Fariña and de Blasio move slowly. I am not happy about that, but I get it. But by September it would be gravely disappointing if the number of J.D.s (not me!) at Tweed wasn’t seriously reduced. Two hundred heads and twelve hundred legs are way too many.