Friday, December 10, 2010

"Chancellor" Black and Blue

You might have read about the riot that occurred at Murry Bergtraum HS when a misguided principal decided to close the bathrooms in response to a fight. I'm not going to comment on the actions of the principal or the students. I would like to say that things like this are more common than the public realizes.

I've been teaching a while, and I've broken up my fair share of fights, much like my blogging pal Chaz. (Hint to newbies: Don't try this at home, or at work.) One time, a student shoved me into a chalkboard. Another time, I took a knife away from a student with nothing more than a stare. I don't expect kudos for these things; I'm simply stating that events like these are a fact of life in many public schools in NYC.

Michael Bloomberg and "Chancellor" Cathie Black would have it that teachers should be judged on Teacher Data Reports that allegedly take into account all kinds of factors. I don't know how they factor in working at a school in which the students riot, or carry knives, or beat each other, or curse out teachers, or kick them and cause miscarriages, but the city claims they can do it.

I'm more skeptical. Until you've worked in a dangerous school, you don't really know how difficult it is to teach in one. That's how I came up with the Bergtraum Solution as a way of settling, once and for all, whether those Teacher Data Reports should be released.

You see, Bergtraum is a high school for business careers. As such, handling the students there should be a piece of cake for someone as forceful as former business maven Cathie Black. So I propose that we ask Cathie to stand in the middle of the main floor of Bergtraum while the principal announces that they have decided to close the bathrooms permanently. She'll only have to stand there long enough for one change of classes to occur. She doesn't even have to teach anything. If she can do that, then we should stop opposing the release of the TDRs.

If, as I suspect, she runs out screaming as if her hair were on fire, or she's carried out on a stretcher, then she has to drop the TDR matter immediately and admit that there's more to teaching in NYC than any statistician could ever account for.

I suspect the "Chancellor" will find the Bergtraum Solution less than appealing. She doesn't even have the courage to face real reporters, much less the adolescents of the schools she'd like to shutter. I'm sure she'll stick to well managed elementary schools where she can comment on the cute "little people" there.

She'll never go a dangerous NYC school, lest she become the punchline to the joke, "What's Black, and white, and black and blue, and red all over?"


Anonymous said...

I believe the mayor and his braintrust will find a simple solution to this systemic problem. The city has announced that starting in July if the fire department responds to a car fire the owner of the vehicle will be charged $415. So, if a riot or serious altercation takes place in a public school, for a mere $100 school safety or for $450 the police will resolve the issue. At the same time not to worry as the incident will not generate data to contradict the crime numbers that hizzoner needs for his presidential bid.

Chaz said...

Mr Talk:
\I like your idea. I might add that our clueless Chancellor also spend time in the cafeteria and see how her widgets really act.

Jeff Pulice said...

English teacher in L.A. here and you are spot on. They have all these handy metrics to measure us; aren't they the ones who have failed the students? We stood there and said, yup, okay, you want me to teach whole english instead of phonics? You want me to concentrate on standards instead of the actual lit? You want me to incorporate some new method some guy from Harvard or Oxford? Sure.
And we did it.
And look what happened.

Republicans say, oh, tax breaks'll fix everything. We had tax breaks all through the Bush years.
Look what happened.

There ought to be, as part of the oath of office every elected official has to take, a vow to acknowledge the concept of reality: that if something is demonstrably true, you cannot say that it is not.

Anyways, you're my new favorite blog.