The Plight of Self-Flatterers: Creating a Legacy of Chaos and Confusion

On Wednesday the Chancellor issued a long letter flattering himself over the wonderful job he has been doing in turning around the school system. He reminds me of Dante’s comments re flatterers

   This was the place we reached; the ditch beneath held people plunged in excrement that seemed as if it had been poured from human privies.

   And while my eyes searched that abysmal sight, I saw one with a head so smeared with shit, one could not see if he were lay or cleric.

   He howled, “Why do you stare more greedily at me than at the others who are filthy?”

   And I: “Because, if I remember right, I have seen you before, with your hair dry; and so I eye you more than all: you are ……….

   Then he continued, pounding on his pate: “I am plunged here because of flatteries – of which my tongue had such sufficiency.” (Canto xviii)

In the whirlwind that has descended on the New York City schools we have gone from 32 Community School Districts, a closely monitored Chancellor’s District targeting low performing schools and centrally administered high schools to 10 mega districts with over 100 K-12 schools in each geographic Region.

The Ttitanic-like system is once again reinventing itself.

* Over five hundred Empowerment Schools in about 25 loosely aligned networks with minimal support.

* 4 mega theme-based citywide regions ranging from 95 to 300 schools each.

* a range of not-for-profits supporting small numbers of schools.

* the reintroduction of Community and High School Superintendents who will “Audit, Inspect and Evaluate” schools apart form the support structure supra.

* Integrated Service Centers, redesigned for the third time in three years who will provide budget and operations support services.

The New Century High Schools (NCHS), the Gates funded small high school initiative has disappeared as the schools are now scattered among the range of support organizations.

The Chancellor has announced the abolition of schools for pregnant girls and New Beginnings Schools due to “low achievement,” gee … at risk kids have low performance.

If it wasn’t “invented” by Tweed it is, by definition, flawed.

The Balkanization of the school system is making it only manageable by press release.

The Klein Plan is only in it’s early stages: pay-for-performance, weakening or abolition of tenure are on the agenda.

Aside from the self-flatterers no one is applauding.

The worker drones: teachers, resent the seemingly never-ending change and have no faith in their boss. Parents are ignored and marginalized. Advocacy groups are treated as the enemy.

Am I too harsh?

I think not. Who is speaking for the victims: the children who are being punished as ideologues at Tweed practice on the children of the poor and the powerless? How many of them have children in the public schools? Rather than speaking with parents and teachers they craft programs, the core of which is the carrot and the stick, merit pay and the fear of dismissal.

Dante was right.


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