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Heroes Act Matters for NYC Schools (but too late for September)

July 18, 2020 pm31 2:34 pm

The Heroes Act would send money to the states, and NY State would send some to localities, including NYC, which could then spend it on essential workers and teachers:

…nearly $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments so they can pay “vital workers like first responders, health workers, and teachers”

Right now, the Chancellor’s reopening plan, calls for hybrid learning. I would teach 9 kids in school, and then 9 kids the next day, etc. But who is teaching the kids at home?  Mulgrew used to say the obvious – it can’t be the same teacher doing both at once. He should say that some more.

And because of that, we will need more teachers if we are to make blended or hybrid learning work.

I need to be honest with you, I don’t think will work. I don’t think the Chancellor and Mayor will figure it out, or care, so I think it is up to us to tell them 1) it won’t work, and 2) no, please stop. It would be helpful if Michael Mulgrew disassociated himself from these less than helpful remarks: “We believe a blended learning model, with students in class on some days and remote on others, balances our safety concerns with the need to bring students back.” and said instead “We are not ready. We will not be ready.”

But while we are stuck with this “plan” a key component is additional teachers. And that’s hard for a few reasons. And the first reason is money. And the Heroes Act could get us over that particular hurdle.

Schools in New York City are looking at budget cuts. At this point they are excessing teachers. (Excessing them from the school – and then they have to find a spot at another school). My tiny school is avoiding that by not replacing a retiring teacher.

We would need money just to get back to full staffing. And then we would need more teachers, so that students in school could have a teacher and students at home could have a teacher.

How many additional teachers would we need? That’s a great question. There are 70 odd thousand in the NYC public school system right now. There are teachers with partial schedules, or with assignments we might skip this year, so that we could maximize the number in the classroom (in-person or remote). Tweed desk jockeys with teaching credentials could be pushed back into service. There are economies that could be found.

But the calculations look bad. The Department of Education, were it responsible, would have provided us with an estimate. Would we actually need to double, or almost double the number of teachers? I don’t know how that could happen. Let’s assume it’s not that bad. Hire 5000?  Seems like not enough. Ten thousand? Fifteen?  Maybe 15 – 20k, but I’m just guessing.

And the money from the Heroes Act would go a long way to making those hires.

Here’s a logic lesson

(1) If you don’t apply, then you can’t the job.

We don’t need to know the circumstance, that probably makes sense. But you know what it doesn’t mean?

(2) If you do apply, then you will get the job.

(1) and (2) absolutely do not mean the same thing. If you don’t apply – you are done. But that doesn’t mean that applying is all that has to happen. You may have to present credentials. You may have to pass a drug test. And you certainly need to be selected.

Lesson over, now the application

(1) if Congress does not pass the U.S. HEROES Act this summer, then NYC cannot open its schools.

True. But that does not mean:

(2) if Congress passes the U.S. HEROES Act this summer, then NYC can open its schools.

No. Not true.

It means the money will be there. It does o’t mean the teachers will be there. How long will it take to hire 10,000 teachers? Where will we find them? How will they be assigned to schools?

All of those questions might have answers. None of them will be answered by September.






One Comment leave one →
  1. Quinn Zannoni permalink
    July 20, 2020 pm31 12:17 pm 12:17 pm

    Hi Johnathon,

    I’m in conversation with my principal regarding space issues. I’ve been reading your blog posts lately, and you are doing the best job imaginable. Question: Where does this 65sqft guideline (apparently from the CDC) come from? I can’t find it in any document, from the DOE or even from the CDC.

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