In a move that is disturbingly reminiscent of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s undermining of Mayor Bill de Blasio ‘s legal mandate to run the New York City Public School System, New York Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch yesterday vowed to shut down the very 94 struggling city schools that di Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina recently announced he would spend the next three years trying to help.
As it happens, I work in one of those schools.
Tisch, in short, seems to be saying that the state will do what it will, regardless of the plans of Mayor Bill di Blasio or the will of the people who voted him into office. In fact, like Cuomo’s reckless giveaway to charter schools, Tisch’s words seem calculated to humiliate de Blasio and to crush the political will of the city with the power of the state.
That and, of course, demonize teachers while praising the miracle of charter schools.
“If we do not see movement with these lowest-performing schools in terms of their ability to retool their workforces by the spring, we will move to close them,” Tisch told John Catsimatidis on his AM 970 radio show.”
“Retool their workforces” is apparently a euphemism for
“firing a bunch of teachers,” the mindless reform solution to all problems of education.
But, of course, you cannot retool without “leverage” — which might be translated as abrogation of due process.
“The main issue, according to Tisch, is that the principals need leverage to fire educators if they don’t meet standards.
“It’s not just saying, ‘We’re gonna fix these schools,’” she said. “You gotta give the new principals and assistant principals the ability to hire the teachers that they want and fire the teachers that they don’t want.”
What “new principals and assistant principals” is Tisch, an unelected billionaire with almost no educational experience speaking about, I wonder. Is there a mass bloodletting of administrators in the works?
And I wonder, too, what is really going on here in this strange turn of events in which a couple of weeks after di Blasio and Carmen Farina announce a plan to save struggling schools that, although far from perfect, is in many ways a radical departure from the rank idiocy of the Bloomberg years, Meryl Tisch is announcing to the world her intention of shutting the same schools down.
Sadly, and revealingly neither de Blasio nor Farina felt the need to defend their own program.
“The mayor’s office didn’t respond to request for comment, referring questions to the city’s Department of Education.
“As Chancellor Tisch said, Chancellor Fariña is committed to doing what is best for children — and this means all options are on the table to turnaround these historically struggling schools,” a spokeswoman for the DOE said.”
What I do know is this: These relentless attacks are exhausting and debilitating and are the exact opposite of what one would be doing if one had any intention whatsoever of allowing a flourishing school system. I know this too: when the power of a state is allowed to crush the political will of a city we have moved even further into a horrifying new American darkness.