Saturday, May 05, 2007

How to fire a teacher in NYC - An Algorithm for Sustainable Incompetence

John Stossel brought this up in his 20/20 "Stupid in America - How We Cheat Our Kids " Google Video, so, being somewhat nosey anyway, I poked around and found the chart...All I can say is, WOW.

Having lived in NYC for 33 years, I remember the many power plays that went on in City Hall. NYC politics is not a pretty sight. The mayors tend to be egotistically-driven Megalomaniacs. School Chancellors come and go, the schools stay the same: rotten, drug-filled havens for the grossly incompetent administrators, who were once teachers, but have now passed the ahem, rigors of administrative office duty.

Chancellors Joseph Fernandez, Cortinez, Harold Levy, Rudy Crew (the worst), a long line of incompetents in their own right - well, some were incompetent, and some simply wouldn't kiss the Pope's ring. And currently Joel Klein, with Bloomberg's blessings - his choice, actually.

So, if New York City has billions to spend, a technocrat Mayor dedicated to improving the schools, and a savvy Schools Chancellor, why aren't things improving? An entrenched bureaucracy, and a seemingly unbreakable Teachers Union, yes, but the real reason schools are so bad there? Nobody is accountable. Klein's hands, like the Mayor's, are tied. How bad is it?

Take a gander at this Algorithm for Incompetence.

83 Steps to Fire a N.Y. Teacher

Oh, and a teacher must take 66 "bureaucratic steps" over 105 days to suspend a disruptive student the Post notes, citing Common Good's new Over Ruled study.

NYC has a budget of billions and billions of dollars. Throw more money at it and the system simple absorbs it, like a giant amoeba. The principal of a school has virtually no control over what goes on in his school. The kids are out of control. And this has been going on for a long, long time.

Just one illustration from personal experience: Back in the mid-70's I had contracted for the use of a lecture room in a public school. Without going into detail, I was responsible for securing space and staffing an evening speaker event, not school related. I had used this particular school before, when I couldn't get the Red Cross facilities. On the night in question, there was one speaker, and 150 guests. About 5 minutes before the speaker was to arrive, a thunderous noise broke out overhead, in the room above the guests. Alarmed, I went to check it out, and discovered a high school basketball game had just started. I went to find the principal, explained the situation to him, expecting him to resolve it. What he said was, "I can't do anything about it." What do you mean, you can't do anything about it? It's your school isn't it? He gave a wistful smile at my ignorance, and said, "The head school custodian made the arrangements. I have no control over it." Come on, it's your school. "Nope, sorry, it's in our contract. I can't interfere." The custodian is in charge? "Sorry, I'd like to help, but my hands are tied."

So, with a little finesse, the speaker learned to work quickly - between fast breaks on the court. Sheesh, the principal has no say in what goes on in his school?

Another time, even earlier (this was early 70's) - I was scheduled to speak to some high school kids in a Queens high school. As soon as I arrived, one of the staff there pulled me aside and said, "Whatever you do, don't go into any of the men's rooms, you'll be mugged." Hmmm.

In the interim, the monopolistic NYC Teachers' Union has become even stronger.

So what's the answer? Ha. Many have tried to answer that and have been broken on the wheel of bureaucracy. Mayor Bloomberg just went up against the Teacher's Union, and lost. So it ain't gonna be easy.

But accountability would go a long way toward sorting out their myriad troubles. School vouchers would tie the money to the child . Let the parents choose functioning, accountable schools. I can hear the shrieks and groaning of the nincompoops, as their schools are - simply allowed to die of attrition. Hey, it's worth a shot.

For another look at the NY Board of Leftism Ed's Mad rassa Madness, Woman Honor Thyself has more info.