2 years in, 2 to go – it’s time, it’s past time, for de Blasio to clean house
Top priority should be cleaning house, now.
Get the remaining Kleinies and incompetents out of Tweed.
Audit principals with high staff turnover.
As 2015, de Blasio’s second year as mayor, closes, there’s not a lot to look back on. And that’s good. It’s one of the few good things I can say about his impact on the schools.
- No destructive new policies. Nothing got worse. (In sharp contrast to EVERY year that Bloomberg was in office)
- We have a contract. The money came late, and not enough, but it was money, and far better getting it than continuing with our 2009 rate of pay. The mystery health savings are troubling, and may come back to hurt. The expedited process for firing one group of teachers is patently unfair, though it does not seem to have come into play, at least not yet. PROSE, allowing different contracts in different schools, should offend every unionist’s sense of union. But these are (at least for now) far smaller concessions than the ones I voted against in 2005.
- Universal pre-K. I don’t care how imperfectly this has turned out so far. Universal pre-K is a Good Thing.
But this is so much less than we expected! Bloomberg, Klein, and Walcott wreaked so much havoc, did so much damage! There is massive amount of repair to be done. And yet there is no repair going on. Even the UFT leadership sees this. For the first year, year and a half, they were talking about the better tone at Tweed and at City Hall, but even they now bemoan the fact that the better tone is not filtering down into the schools. Shortly after de Blasio took office, Mulgrew chided me at an Exec Board when I spoke about “undoing the damage” of the Bloomberg, Klein, Walcott years. Now he has adopted the language himself.
We cheered getting rid of the networks. But it’s not clear that the new structures are particularly good. And reëmpower the superintendents? It’s tough to comment on, when there are not boroughwide high school superintendencies. I’m leaving this as a neutral.
My instinct is to provide a laundry list of improvements. And there are many things that could be easily done to make our schools better. But let’s focus on one change, long overdue, that will make other changes possible – it’s time to clean house.
At Tweed there are far too many Bloomberg holdovers, with Bloomberg policies, and Bloomberg attitudes. At the top the scum has been skimmed off, but the organization is due a thorough cleaning.
- Administrators who have been transferred due to incompetence need to be retrained, or let go. Under Klein, if you were incompetent, but mean, they found a place for you. That has to stop. They could be at Tweed, or in some field office, or foisted on some school.
- In the schools, many principals were appointed through diploma mills (including the Leadership Academy) and lack management and pedagogical skills. As long as they can make their stats look ok, no one seems to care whether or not they can actually run a school. With 1800 schools, and with most administrators able, and with the issue not being statistics, where should the DoE start?
Audit the schools with high staff turnover two years in a row. That indicates a problem, which could be an abusive administrator, but is often an incompetent one. (Two years ago Unity refused to make such a list available to our members who need to transfer. We will suggest it again.) And maybe look at schools with large programming changes after October 1. The system does not need principals who do not know how to hire staff, or principals who cannot organize classes for a new school year.
There are only two years left to undo Bloomberg’s damage. Mean, incompetent principals and APs, and Bloomberg-loyal middle level managers should not be allowed to impede progress.