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UFT: Need for a New Course

August 19, 2020 am31 10:30 am

Since June the UFT leadership’s position has been

  • We really want schools open in the Fall
  • We think blended learning is the best option for the Fall
  • We will not open schools unless we are certain that they are safe.

Let’s grant for the moment, that this may have been reasonable in June. (This is more than generous; there was ample evidence that blended learning would not work, as early as June, certainly not how the DoE was envisioning it.)

In the second half of August, this is no longer reasonable. The new message must be:

  • We really wanted schools to open in the Fall
  • We looked closely at blended learning
  • But the daily logistics will not work
  • But the weekly schedules will not work
  • But the safety, while there has been progress, is not close to being where it needs to be. Equipment and supplies are missing. Many procedures are not yet in place – and in some cases we don’t have a procedure, or know that we can have one. As issues arise the DoE is making up responses on the fly.
  • Today is August 19. It is too late to address these items for a September, and some of them (logistics, schedules) cannot be adequately addressed
  • Even the items that could be addressed, our partners at the Department of Education have not been up to the task

Schools, children, parents, teachers – all of us should be planning for a remote term. We can know now what the outline of the fall will look like, and begin filling in details. We can do work to make the fall more successful than the spring was.

The alternative – hanging on for three weeks, then pivoting suddenly to remote – will lead to chaos. It will lead to a repeat of March. It is the last-minute decision making that we can not afford to let happen.

Will the mayor listen to the UFT? In March it took a lot of voices to force de Blasio to change his mind. It took every voice. He must be aware that the UFT has not called for remote for the fall.

The UFT speaking out for remote will not necessarily change de Blasio’s mind. But the absence of the UFT’s voice GUARANTEES that the mayor will stubbornly delay. The UFT needs a new course, today.

Exposure Notification

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Samuel Noel permalink
    August 19, 2020 am31 11:16 am 11:16 am

    Today is Carranza’s Town Meeting. He needs to hear how logistically impossible it is to reopen school buildings in the few weeks we have left. We’re supposed to become pandemic experts with 2 days of PD. This is ridiculous. Not a word spoken about air filtration. No plan B when the current setup fails as it will. I hope this Town Meeting is worth our time!

  2. Conspiracy Theories permalink
    August 19, 2020 pm31 2:40 pm 2:40 pm

    I’ve been wondering whether reopening buildings is part a deal UFT leadership struck with the city to avoid or reduce teacher layoffs. Could that be possible? I’m thinking about the wording we’ve seen in emails from both the DOE and UFT leadership this fall about how our school’s “remote teachers” may come from other schools or from DOE central. I’m worried the city thinks the remote portion of hybrid learning will be the centralized DOE curriculum (iLearn or whatever) with automated grading and one teacher nominally responsible for thousands of students who never interact with their teacher or with each other. I can’t think of another possible answer to the question every teacher’s been asking all summer: how are we going to double our staff so each class has one remote and one in-person teacher? The only answer I can think of is that remote teachers will be given caseloads so huge that they won’t actually be teaching in any meaningful way. I wonder if the city and UFT leadership have spoken about how going fully remote would mean huge staff cuts and huge caseloads for remaining staff, and this is why Mulgrew is so hesitant to say we need to go fully remote.

    If this isn’t the case, it’s mind-boggling that UFT leadership is out of touch with its membership. A lot of teachers (including me) were optimistic back in June about buildings reopening in 2020-2021. Now, in August, we’ve learned much more about the hybrid plan: how dangerous it is; how hybrid programming and safety precautions are impractical at best and impossible at worst; how the hybrid plan is instructionally inferior to even the slapdash remote learning we had to throw together with no DOE guidance in March. At this point in time, I don’t know of a single NYC teacher who doesn’t think we should be fully remote this fall. Do you?

    Meanwhile, whether or not my conspiracy theory is true, it’s obscene how much money and time we’re wasting preparing for hybrid instruction, which – if it happens at all – is not likely to last long.

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