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June 4 is a PD Day – but…

May 30, 2020 pm31 10:20 pm

I thought that June 4 would be a non-instructional day. That’s how it is for high schools in New York City. Every year for two decades, since Brooklyn-Queens Day was extended to the whole city. In my school we do placement exams for our incoming 9th graders. There’s PD. Elementary schools also have June 9.

And Thursday a UFT leader confirmed it (and complained that the DoE was slow to tell us), yup, Professional Development day.

So it came as a surprise yesterday when I heard that June 4 would be instructional. There must be a mistake? I checked my e-mail. Nothing.

But on the chat pages I learned the truth – the Chancellor wrote, Friday evening, to parents and families, and not to teachers.

Apparently a letter to principals followed. The key paragraph: “June 4 will be an instructional day for students, meaning that we still expect all students to be engaged in remote learning even as you and your teachers are engaged in professional development. Teachers are not expected to engage students on June 4; instead, schools should set students up in advance of June 4 with independent work for the day, or provide students with centrally provided materials, which will be made available early next week.”

Simply put, give them work on Wednesday, go to PD on Thursday, and ignore kids’ e-mails on Thursday. I bet a lot of teachers could do that. But some of us cannot. And some of us will not. It is bad practice. Kids try new work, they need guidance. They may have questions. They can get stuck. For those of us who are teaching live – just how can we do both?

Friday night surprises. This is not this Chancellor’s first time dropping bad surprise news on us, indirectly, Friday, after hours. That’s when he let slip that he was banning Zoom immediately (which he walked back Monday, three days later, to a gradual phase out, and which has since been brought back). It’s also when de Blasio announced that Good Friday and Passover were work days.

Why do they do this? Because they are thoughtless. Because they have little respect for teachers and other school workers. Because they think they can get away with it. And because, so far, they have in fact gotten away with it.

There’s something else going on. People are asking, why isn’t the UFT doing anything about this? And others are answering that the UFT is fighting this. But that answer is not coming from Mulgrew. People are hopping mad, or frustrated, or too exhausted to complain, and nothing from the union President. What do I think? I think the UFT is fighting this. I think the central leadership is allowing the rumors that they are fighting to filter out.

But I think a better leadership would speak directly to the membership.

This has been an apparent problem on several occasions over these last ten weeks. Maybe the most frustrating was getting only a series of lawyerly-worded statements about live teaching, and pressing and pressing for weeks before we finally got an unambiguous “you do not have to live teach” from Mulgrew.

In that case, the lawyers were probably writing the statements.

This time? They might be delaying until they have spoken to the DoE and resolved this. Possible, but a lousy reason not to tell us what’s going on. Sometimes they are shy about communicating when they don’t think they have a win. Also a lousy a reason. Maybe they are debating what to say to the members. Well, ok, maybe, but it’s been over a day. Get to it.

Slow communication with members – or letting rumors reach members before official word does, that’s bad for the union.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    May 31, 2020 am31 6:58 am 6:58 am

    It’s June, pal! The year is done.

    Get some sunshine, enjoy the weather and enjoy the rest of your life.

    The doe is not a career, it’s a job.

    Most people I have met over my 2 decades have thrown in the white flag.

    The doe does not reward hard work, so why kill yourself?

    • Jennifer Alexander permalink
      May 31, 2020 am31 7:32 am 7:32 am

      I am not killing myself; I am doing my job and earning my paycheck. We owe it to the taxpayers to do our jobs, even though the suits at the DOE are corrupt and immoral.

      To tell teachers to assign work and attend PD makes no sense to anyone who knows anything about teaching and learning. They have no idea how long it takes to create one remote lesson. They have no idea that some of us do go on live to teach our lessons.

      The only thing PD stands for is Punishment Day and we have two!


  1. June 4 – Mulgrew responds | JD2718

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