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What Just Happened with Staffing?

September 17, 2020 am30 9:18 am


Since June the UFT and the NYC Department of Education have been trying to find a way to open NYC schools – with classes in the school buildings – in September. It may have been a noble idea in May or June; it is a lunacy today.

Back when we started, the obvious first adjustment would be to limit the numbers of children in a classroom, to provide for social distancing. Every version of every plan broke classes into pieces to accomplish this. Effectively, class size was being lowered. In a weird, pandemicky context, every plan was a class size reduction plan.

Reducing class size creates more classes. 600 students with a class size of 30 – that’s twenty classes. Reduce class size to 20 – that’s thirty classes. Reduce class size to 15 – forty classes. And reduce class size to 12 – that’s fifty classes.

The Story Begins

How do we go from 20 classes to 30 classes?  Here’s one way: If each teacher has five classes, we could go from 4 teachers to 6 teachers. And in a system with 1.1 million students in maybe 40,000 classes – whoa, that’s a lot more classes, and that’s a lot more teachers!

How else could we go from 20 classes to 30 classes? Here’s another way: If each teacher used to teach five classes, let them teach 7 each (we can find a way to cover the last two). Now, this is NYC. No one in their right mind thinks anyone would proposed increasing workload on a teacher by 40%… Right?

How else could we go from 20 to 30 classes? Here’s one more way: If each class only met two days out of three, then the teacher, same number of periods, would be teaching more classes. A NYC teacher with 25 periods normally has five classes – the same teacher would now have seven and a half (ok, no half class, but at scale that’s how the math works).

So, one problem, three solutions:

  • Hire more teachers
  • Give each teacher more work
  • Make each class meet less frequently

Over the summer, most DoE schools were preparing to give teachers more work. Teach 25 in person days, and post material for on-line classes, and do something live on-line as well. In addition, we learned in the spring that any live remote teaching took more preparation time than normal teaching – and not marginally more, significantly more.

The ridiculous staffing plan signed by the DoE and UFT in late August essentially created the need for many more teachers – when both sides knew that no more teachers were being hired (well, a few, but nothing close to the 5 digit need they were defining). In addition, the agreement left fully remote teachers with the Spring exhaustion issue – live remote teaching takes significantly more work than regular teaching.

And then, this week, Carranza backed off the demand for live remote teaching for students who receive some in person instruction (most commonly, one day out of every three). That is the equivalent of making about half of our classes meet less frequently – the third solution. It instantly reduced the staffing crisis – but it continues to rely on in person teachers also prepping asynchronous remote – which is not as onerous as live teaching remote on top of a full day, but it is hard. This adjustment leaves us with a mix of the second and third solutions, and the workload issues remain overwhelming.

Where do we stand now?

We are understaffed – but not at a crisis level. Students will likely receive less instruction than Carranza promised. Fewer teachers will be given outrageous workloads – but still enough that we should be very concerned. But this is only true if schools can adjust plans in light of the last minute change in instructions.

Carranza’s “adjustment” made a mess of school’s plans, without time to adjust. I’ll try to write about that later today.

Last word – apologies for the pace of my writing slowing in recent days – the demands of the September 21 Avoidable Disaster on me were significant, and I was planning and programming – jd




6 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    September 18, 2020 am30 4:35 am 4:35 am

    What is going to happen is what happens every single year. We, and I include myself in this, will have no clue as to what is going on and we will nod, smile, yes the bosses to death and then do what we have to do to get by and not get lambasted by administration.

    The administration will have the wink and the nod of do as I say and not as I do or just don’t complain and figure it out or make It work. Therefore, the kids will suffer.

    This is all nothing new. Our job as a doe teacher since Bloomberg is to survive each day.

    Honestly, I’m clueless this year. I stopped following the news and I’m ‘faking it until I make it.’

    I am over 40 and closer to retirement and am more concerned w my pension than being a ‘good teacher.’ It is what it is. Doe world 2020.

    • September 19, 2020 am30 10:15 am 10:15 am

      I am likely older than you, and probably closer to retirement.

      But for me, I can’t help it, need to try to help folks get out of harm’s way. Even when my effort is not likely to succeed.

      As for teaching, it’s what I do. I’m not always great at it, but I always try.

  2. MIke Trembley permalink
    September 18, 2020 am30 11:15 am 11:15 am

    hsas administration seems like a clean bunch of people but i guess you never know eh…ole saying never judge a book by its cover for real

    • September 19, 2020 am30 10:10 am 10:10 am

      You know my folks? We are ok, for the moment

  3. Anonymous permalink
    September 18, 2020 pm30 5:53 pm 5:53 pm

    Wow. This whole thing is going to implode in a big way. Mulgrew and company are worse than deBlasio. At least he has good intentions.

    • September 19, 2020 pm30 4:49 pm 4:49 pm

      Mulgrew’s push for blended has been horrible. But I don’t see how de Blasio’s not worse – much worse, and owns most of the blame.

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