Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hey, At Least I Wasn't Told To Burn In Hell...

This is the text of an email I had to send today. I wish this was merely a joke, but sadly, it's all true. The notes in italics do not appear in the original email:

Dear Chancellor Klein,

Upon arriving at work this morning, I was notified by a colleague that she was asked to give up her classroom and move to another classroom at the opposite end of the hallway. She agreed, moved a few of her things, and began teaching in the new room. Unfortunately, this classroom was already occupied by another teacher who, because of the change, was told that he no longer had a classroom in which to teach and instead had to rearrange his entire schedule.

When I inquired as to why she was asked to leave, she replied that it was so the administration could turn her classroom into a “literacy center.” I asked her, “What is a literacy center?” She responded that not only did she not know, but the administrator who initiated this wasn’t entirely sure either. I then asked her why she agreed to move without further inquiry or protest, she replied, “When the administration says something, I don’t argue. Besides, it’s no big deal.”

I went to speak to the administrator in charge of literacy (note – it was the administrator known to readers as Hellhound) who was behind this debacle, but our discussion did not last very long. Here is our conversation in its entirety:

Me: Why did you move Ms. X and Mr. Y from their classrooms?

Administrator: Because we are turning Ms. X’s room into a Literacy Center.

Me: Can you explain to me why we couldn’t use one of the already vacant rooms on the second floor?

Administrator: Because Ms. X’s room is next to my office.

Me: So it’s a matter of convenience to you?

Administrator: Yes.

Me: Regardless of the inconvenience foisted upon Ms. X and Mr. Y?

Administrator: We all make sacrifices for the good of the school.

Me: Can you explain to me what a Literacy Center is?

Administrator: It is a room filled with leveled books. Where students can go and pick out books based on their reading level.

Me: You mean like the library we already have?

Administrator: No, because all the books will be leveled. (Note – leveling a library means that the books are arbitrarily classified and ordered based on reading levels that was concocted by an outside subcontracting company, in this case, a company named Fountas and Pinnell. Keep in mind that there are four separate “reading level” formulas used by four different companies, and not one of them agrees with the others).

Me: Wouldn’t it have been easier just to level the books already in the library? You know, by putting little stickers on them or otherwise labeling them? That way, no teacher would be affected.

Administrator: Mr. Outcast, every time this school attempts to do something, you find only the negative.

Me: Well, uprooting two teachers from their classrooms after two months of school seems pretty negative at first glance. Maybe if this idea had been discussed prior to implementation, we could have identified the possible problems and made changes. But you only told both of these teachers this morning that this would be happening. So who exactly is going to be running this new Literacy Center?

Administrator: We don’t know yet. I have to go.

She then walked away without continuing the conversation.

Mr. Chancellor, every ELA teacher in the school already has a leveled classroom library containing anywhere from 100-500 books. We have a school library with a few thousand titles, and three separate “book storage rooms” containing an unspecified number of books and materials that no one has the key to except the Principal and a $1200 a day “Literacy Consultant.” (Note – I’m not kidding about this either. Our school actually pays someone $1200 a day to come in and explain to professional educators how to level their library. Keep in mind that this particular consultant has never taught one single day in the United States of America in her entire life. But more on her in a later post). Because of this change, two teachers and 6 separate classes have been affected, but no one can provide a satisfactory reason as to why it had to happen in the first place.

I’m hoping, Mr. Chancellor, that you can shed some light on this conundrum.



And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why working for the NYC Department of Education is such a grand adventure - not a single day will go by without countless morons demonstrating their infinite idiocy all in the name of abject stupidity. Stay tuned for the Chancellor's exciting and enlightening response! (Note - the odds are 500-1 that the only individuals who will even read my original email are the 11 people who visit this site).


Blogger David Horne said...

I read your Lost Symbol review (way better than the book itself) which led me to your blog and this post. I'm in education as well -- sorry, I can only laugh reading about your conversation and the resulting email. I've had so many similar experiences myself that I always hesitate to tell people I'm in education because it's to the point I'm embarrassed to admit it.

Friday, October 23, 2009 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Raven said...

I too, was led to your blog from the Lost Symbol review, and I find your commentary delightful. An outcast from education myself, a former librarian, I agree with and laugh (somewhat sadly) with your posts. I shudder to think what the next couple of generations that can't afford Andover or home schooling from intelligent parents will become. I remember the day when the principal told me I had to open the library to the Gideons and their bibles instead of free reading time. My days in so-called public education were numbered when I refused and stood guard by the doors. You're a beacon in a dark place, outcast. Keep at it as long as you can stand it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009 1:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outcast you are dick, you need to get laid once in a while.

Monday, October 26, 2009 1:53:00 PM  
Blogger Valannin said...

Anonymous: I am Dick? No, I am Valannin. Pleased to meet you. I don't think that sexual activity is going to cure the ills of the NYC Dept. of Education, but hey, if you send me your mom's number, I'll give it a shot...

Monday, October 26, 2009 4:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Raven said...

haha Pretty sure mindless sex won't cure the ills of public education, even with his mom, and since the apple doesn't fall far, indeed it would be.

Monday, October 26, 2009 9:16:00 PM  

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