Fearing a teachers’ strike, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio pushed back public schools’ starting date from September 10 to September 16 for all remote learning, and September 21 for the hybrid model.
Since Hizzoner closed public school buildings on Monday, March 16, communication and information have been in painfully short supply. Families have been left to fend for themselves.
Here are their top five concerns from the past six months, based on the number of hits each post received:
5) NYC Parents To Department of Ed: Who Will Teach My Children?
Excerpt: Chancellor Carranza is confident there will be enough teachers to go around. If too many ask for a medical accommodation (and, as teachers fear, get excessed, as a result), then, “School leaders are already discussing shifting support teachers, art teachers, and others with teaching licenses into the classrooms to meet the demands of the smaller classes…. We’re taking a holistic look at everyone that has a teaching credential, that can be in a classroom, will do that if we need them.” Mayor De Blasio elaborated, “We are in the process of right now identifying every single person in the DOE that is not currently in a classroom, as a teacher, but has an underlying pedagogical credential and identifying the critical work that we’re doing because some of those people might end up in classrooms. So, again, it’s looking from within as well as part of the ATR.” Not currently in a classroom but has an underlying pedagogical credential may mean DOE bureaucrats who have never actually taught. ATR is the Absent Teacher Reserve, where teachers whom principals don’t want to hire are sent to collect a salary for doing nothing. While some are there because the school where they were working closed or a program cut, others were let go to do disciplinary issues or unacceptable performance. You know how 97 percent of teachers are rated effective or highly effective? Guess where the other 3% end up?
4) Will NYC Students Have To Repeat a Grade? Can They? Should They?
Excerpt: The districts that have halted remote learning due to equity concerns claim it’s unfair that some students have access to computers and workspaces while others don’t. Obviously, the former will be much further ahead in September than the latter. But if all teachers are equally skilled at teaching multiple ability levels in a classroom — it’s their job, after all — then that won’t be an insurmountable issue in September, will it? Just like it isn’t an issue now? Some truly radical thinkers have floated the crackpot concept of testing students prior to school resuming in September to see whether they are ready to move up in grade level, or would benefit from repeating the year. But if we were to do that for September 2020, what would be the rationale for not doing it every year moving forward, and ensuring that every student was assigned to the grade best suited for them, not to mention graduating high school with the skill set necessary to succeed in the world?
3) It’s Not a Plot, It’s Incompetence: Is the NYC Department of Education Deliberately Undermining Some Schools?
Excerpt: It is not a plot, and it is not a purge. Can those who, this past week, watched the Mayor and School Chancellor roll out a half-baked, detail-deficient, unwieldy plan for reopening schools (that immediately prompted NY Governor Cuomo to remind that the final word is his, not theirs) say with a straight face that this is a pair clever and devious enough to deliberately sabotage their own system in the interest of overturning it? Come on! If they could have, they wouldn’t have needed a pandemic to hide behind! If the Department of Education were smart enough to concoct and enact this supervillain-quality scheme, wouldn’t they be smart enough to make it so 50% of all students weren’t performing below grade level? After all, those stats don’t exactly make them look good…. I only wish our leaders were this clever. Then I could have some faith in them. (An evil genius is still a genius, after all!) What we’re all living through isn’t a plot. It’s incompetence. That our kids are paying for.
2) NYC Parents Wonder: If We Leave Now, Will Our Kids Be Allowed To Return To Their Public Schools Later?
Excerpt: If we are talking about your zoned public school, I am comfortable telling families that if you withdraw your child from Kindergarten and return to the same home for 1st grade, odds are good you will be welcomed back. Class size goes up from Kindergarten to 1st grade, and with the addition of natural — not to mention pandemic-inspired — attrition there should be room. If we’re talking about an out of zone school, an unzoned school, or a Gifted & Talented program, the answer gets trickier.
1) The (Last Minute) Plans of Mice and Men… And NYC Schools
Excerpt: So, to summarize… If (schools) do reopen on September 10, in the two weeks preceding (which includes a long holiday weekend), the Department of Education will: review and respond to over 1,700 plans for outdoor learning (funding sources TBA); examine and certify the safety of over 1,600 buildings (methods beyond toilet paper on a stick, TBA); assemble and recruit from administrative positions and the Absent Teacher Reserve – in the middle of a hiring freeze — several thousand new teaching teams with the help of Virtual Content Specialists not yet hired (funding sources TBA). Does that seem feasible to anyone who has dealt with DOE bureaucracy?
What other concerns do parents have about schools reopening? Tell us below!