"Bloomberg's Children," and How Education Dies - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the March 2012 Juniper Berry Magazine

"Bloomberg's Children," and How Education Dies

Illustration by Ekaterina "Katie" Aksenova

Yellow Journalist newspapers publish anti-teacher articles and profess what is "Best for Children." Their gibberish, their mantra of care and concern for the education of children has always been part of a smokescreen. No sensible New Yorker still believes that The Michael Bloomberg administration had "ever" considered the welfare of children as more than a hopeful byproduct of the mayor's agenda. With each day, the public realizes that the Department of Education was always willing to sacrifice the city's youth, redirecting taxpayer money away from the classroom for privatization, consultants and "perhaps" legally into their own pockets. All the while, they blame teachers for the resulting destruction of Education as they continue to pour public funding into worthless cronies programs. Not only in New York City, but the Mayor's Conference in Washington DC with the likes of Michelle Rhee helps bolster schemes to sap finances from public schools across the country. While the mayor rants about the imaginary grandeur of his performance, most New Yorkers think otherwise. Workers and owners of restaurants and shops from Pete's Cafe in the Bronx to La Bella Cucina in Queens, establishments all over the city that sport photo's of a Mayoral visit, apologize with disgust and shout obscenities. One elderly patron holds nothing back, "Yeah, that's us standing with the mayor. But we can't stand that rat bastard!"

For any dollar Bloomberg puts into the till with his left hand, he takes out two with his right, and always his thumb on the scale. Besides being the "Education Mayor," another "Bloomberg Proclamation" is his concern for health and obesity. The Department of Parks facility at Lost Battalion Hall in Queens used to service schools that needed gym space, but as schools switch to "3-2" (alternate weekly 3 day 2 day Physical Education schedules), schools cut the number of student classes in half so they can cut more Teachers. On top of this, almost completely utilized by low income seniors and children, Bloomberg doubled recreation centers membership and program fees, raised the retirement membership from 55 to 65 and plans to close the city's last Historic Boxing Program at Lost Battalion Hall.

The popularity of the phrase, "Bloomberg's Children," refers to the victimized students created by Bloomberg policy, the ever increasing student population of low functioning, antisocial students entering High Schools. Freshmen are increasingly disruptive and disrespectful to teachers and staff, fearless toward authority with no inclination to obey regulations. Many are apathetic and most of them believe they are entitled the freedom to act as they please. Some ominously display no sign of conscience and have little to no self-control or respect for the law, no less rules. More and more graduates include many of the same students, little changed and unprepared for college or the world.

Parents and the Students who want to learn

The disservice to children and parents by the Bloomberg Administration is unforgivable. As only a teacher can witness, brave are those students that learn amid chaos. But they are few, and all students suffer from the example set by disruptive influences in school. Teachers and school staff are handcuffed when it comes to discipline and must educate children under constant administrative harassment, and duress to accumulate what is mostly phoney or compromised "Data" that shows student improvement. This created "Bloomberg's Children." And for many, it may be too late to save them.

On top of this, a new regulation requires that Special Needs and Emotionally Disturbed children will now have to pass Regents Tests to graduate. Tossed away into regular classrooms, these students are not only denied services, but are being used to help the mayor close schools. If they cannot pass state tests or perform alongside the general population, when the school stats go down, the mayor can use this as another excuse to close public schools and open Charter Schools as well as give unsatisfactory ratings to teachers. Like teachers, principals that complain about the illegal dumping of "Bloomberg's Children" into their schools (even just before graduation to disrupt the "DATA"), receive threats of misconduct, poor management and removal by the superintendent. Principals are also approached by the DOE to help convert their schools into Charters, and after a request and all the paperwork is submitted, not only are all the teachers treacherously replaced, but the principal is also replaced by someone better "Connected."

Insidious School Closings and Attack on Teachers

The press spins false information and statistics, which makes them complicit in the destruction of education. Their articles blame the mayor's failing system on teachers and leave parents and the rest of the public unaware of the horrendous truth. With their pants hanging around their knees, cursing, threatening and disrupting lessons, "Bloomberg's Children" are being used to help force school failure and subsequently increase the number of senior teachers without permanent classroom positions. Emboldened to be disrespectful, disruptive or indifferent, students are unleashed from one phase-out school into the next one marked for closure. To help close Jamaica High School, they even shipped in adolescent prisoners from Riker's Island, low functioning homeless and disruptive students from wherever they could be found to help poison the school's grade, test and graduation statistics. http://gothamschools.org/2010/01/13/save-jamaica-high-school/ To close Stevenson High School, they shipped in truants and gang members. But now, the mayor shows himself in the height of vileness and loathsomeness. The truth is out as he no longer needs any excuses to close schools. He is blatantly, boastfully, sticking it in the face of children and parents by closing even top "A" rated schools. With each school closing, more teachers are excess-ed into the ATR pool (Absent Teacher Reserve). They are sent from week to week to a different location to "FILL IN" for absent teachers with a daily mix of subjects and students. Under this ridiculous notion that by sending instructors all over the city to cover classes, the teachers should be able to land permanent positions. But more telling, schools not only prefer to hire New Teachers, but the mayor continually cuts school funding so that even if principals wanted to hire experienced instructors the schools cannot afford them. New Teachers are "Good" teachers defined as those who draw less pay and benefits, while experienced teachers are defined as "Bad" Teachers who draw higher salaries, have pensions and legal rights. The reality is that the DOE hopes many teachers will grow disgusted and quit.

Bloomberg has been closing his own specialized mini and non-profit Charter Schools, which were always a sham. Fancy school titles in which architectural schools offer one semester of architecture, art and music schools where there is no art and music, technology schools with little or no computer classes, college prep schools, law, drama, on and on one after another, together they demonstrate one giant scam and broken dreams for children and their parents. Only schools that show potential to produce a profit will continue. Book publishers are switching to software so they can get their cut of the new market. As schools privatize, pilfering public funds is not the only advantage. Insiders can collect dividends. They can already purchase STOCK OPTIONS in Charter Schools. That is why the mayor and real-estate and other businesses want Education to go private, not because they love your children. http://www.fool.com/investing/dividends-income/2011/08/16/movie-house-investor-dives-into-the-charter-school.aspx

Other Collaborators besides the Media

The term "Vichy Teachers" refers to the infamous, "Teachers for Excellence/Educators 4 Excellence" and groups or teachers like them. In return for cushy assignments, bonuses and job security, these teachers will undermine fellow instructors the way the World War II Vichy Nazi collaborators turned against French citizens. Besides supporting the mayor, in an effort to look good, they do whatever "dirt" they can against the general teacher population. Like something out of an espionage movie, "Vichy Teachers" have even started a spy network. They recruit and keep representatives in schools to "interpret" other teacher's performances and report negatively to the administration.

Nonsense Evaluations

$20,000 bonus for Highly Effective Teacher Rating

The public needs to understand that Teacher Evaluations by Administrative "Discretion" equals corruption. It would be as bias and as sensible to have passenger jets inspected by zoo keepers and then zoo keepers evaluated by neurosurgeons. Governor Andrew Cuomo now supports the mayor on teacher evaluations, so in addition to the usual nepotism, racism and favoritism, everyone can get a piece of the pie. Reminiscent of the way the mayor donated to various congregations before the election, satirically, each teacher can slip the principal and assistant principal a few grand for good evaluations and give some students a few hundred dollars to behave. With over 10-15 grand left over in bonus pay, a teacher can buy books and paper and finally get some tax dollars back into the classrooms. Furthermore, since Charter Schools do not require licensed teachers, an owner can hire "Uncle Frank the Butcher" to teach a Living Environment Class, and rate him Highly Effective for the $20,000 bonus. Even if the school fails, at some point they can convert the building into Condos. It's a Win Win all around.

The Danielson Program

Taxpayers everywhere are funding The Danielson Program, the latest NEW teaching method that enables a teacher to become Highly Effective and helps students learn. It is the laughing stock of almost every teacher in the system and an anathema that some segments of the UFT actually give it support. In some schools, administration is already using it illegally to give teachers unsatisfactory ratings. Higher performing students oppose the group-work aspect of it, while without any wonder, the lower functioning and disruptive students favor it. The individuals who promote this and many other programs would not last a day teaching in some schools. Example: Educators attend a Staff Development where they hear about a dysfunctional, disruptive, cannot-stand-still student is identified by an "insightful, creative teacher" as "a dancer." The student is transferred to a dance school, where she blossoms and goes on to become a successful choreographer. When teachers hear this kind of story, they hold their heads and mock, "My entire class must be dancers. No wait, the entire school."

The Road Ahead

Teaching as a Part Time job is what the mayor wanted and what the public will soon have. Education as an Honorable Profession may never recover. As the job degrades, teachers want out. The ones that can leave, go. The ones that have to stay hang in there for love of the students and teaching, and the fear of the unemployment line with the prospect that their teaching license will not qualify them for a vender's permit to sell roasted nuts. What seems only a matter of time, when new college graduates find they can earn comparable wages with more respect and benefits working at Mc Donalds, they will seek employment elsewhere. As for "Bloomberg's Children," the future remains as dubious as what is rapidly transforming into the "Bloomberg System" for all our children. The lost Alma mater, the "Phased Out Generation."

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