Posts Tagged ‘Iris Blige’

Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy Produces Yet Another Contemptuous Wretch

February 7, 2015


Any time a New York City teacher who has been working a few years hears or reads of some outrageous behavior by a principal, ten to one a single question wells up within his or her head: Is this person a product of the Leadership Academy?

There is excellent reason for this. They almost always are. I know. I had my own Leadership Academy monster to deal with. Mine thought it was a good idea to have the cops come into the school and arrest the PTA president and secretary in the middle of the school day for stealing funds that were never stolen. Drag out two innocent parents in handcuffs while their kids are in class? No problem. And somehow no charges are filed against the principal. She wound up U rating a fourth of the teaching staff, and causing untold and unjust damage to the lives of three fine untenured teachers by discontinuing them, before finally being removed and warehoused in school after school on what can be called the Leadership Academy dole. And who can forget the notorious Iris
Bilge, among many others in the Leadership Academy Hall of Shame. And the list goes on and one.

Yes, Leadership Academy grads have been degrading education, debasing the lives of students and teachers and finding creative ways to disgrace themselves for years now, and Principal Jazmine Santiago, who according to The New York Post “used school funds to install her own private gym with a bench press, pull-up bar, treadmill, elliptical machine and thigh exerciser on the third floor of PS 269 in Flatbush,” is no exception.
Kids have no pencils or paper ? A pity. But check out these abs!

Still, because The Post is The Post I wanted to reserve judgment on the woman until I heard confirmation from a credible source – which is to say, something other than The Post.
Sure and soon enough, I did. An old friend who has the misfortune of working for Santiago confirmed the account. I asked her if Santiago was Leadership Academy.

“Of course,” said she.

Tycoon-turned-mayor Mike Bloomberg and federal prosecutor-turned-chancellor of-education-turned education entrepreneur Joel Klein both thought the Leadership Academy was a swell idea. Why wouldn’t they? Neither had any idea what constitutes education nor any interest in finding out. Both of them thought that teaching was as easy as running a business. Take anyone, they reasoned, sausage them through nine months of ideological, union busting, “leadership building “ boot camp and presto! An instant principal!

New York City schools are still filled with these people, meaning in a very real sense that Bloomberg is still present, still poisoning, still here. I suspect we will be hearing stories of Leadership Academy principals degrading the sacred trust that is public education for years to come.

Addendum: Yesterday was a big news day for NYC principals. Could not find out for sure if Principal Annie Schmutz Seifullah was Leadership Academy as well, but I’d happily lay odds that she is. Note well that both of these persons were elevated to these positions during the ( endless ) reign of “reformer” M. Bloomberg. Note too that Seifullah is one of the very few principals that are actually fired, rather than hidden somewhere continuing to collect their substantial salaries. Message: Ruining schools and the lives of students and teachers is acceptable, but sex…


Why Does Iris Blige Still Have a Job ?

May 12, 2013
The Abominable Ms. Blige

The Abominable Ms. Blige

Bronx principal Iris Blige has made the news again and again it is not for academic achievement. Some may remember Blige from of a couple of years back when she ordered underlings to try and destroy the careers of a number of teachers who had the terrible luck of working under her. ( See here. or here’s-doe-beyond-good-and-evil/ )

Somehow, after paying a fine, Ms. Blige was allowed to retain her job. And here she is again accused of ordering a teacher into a closet. And why shouldn’t she ? What has she to fear ? If you can attempt to strip someone of his or her livelihood and merely be made to pay a fine, what could be the consequence of ordering a teacher into a closet? At least they’re receiving a paycheck, no?

A question: in what other profession can an administrator treat a fellow professional with such naked cruelty and contempt and still be working?

If there is one individual who can be said to embody the essence of the attitude towards teachers in a Department of Educations run dictatorially by Mayor Mike Bloomberg that person is Iris Blige.

May the next mayor have the courage and the decency to insure that such barbaric behavior never darken our schools again. No person should ever be treated as this person has been allowed to treat them. This is beyond disgrace.


Iris Blige and Bloomberg’s DOE: Beyond Good and Evil

February 15, 2011

Can there be any morally acceptable or professional reason why Mike Bloomberg’s Department of Education has not fired Iris Blige, the Bronx principal who ordered her assistant principals to write damningly false evaluations of almost a dozen teachers in order to fire them ?  Can there be any situation in which such unconscionable and vile attempts to destroy the careers of fellow professionals would be considered worthy of nothing more than a fine?

Can there be any other way of perceiving an act that debased and degraded the assistant principals Blige reduced to her stooges other than as a monstrous abuse of power and public trust?  Can anyone think of any profession —  other than  teaching in the present age of  their demonization —   in which such disgusting behavior would not lead to immediate dismissal?

Consider these facts.

The aforementioned charges against Blige were substantiated after a two-year investigation by the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) , hardly  an organization hostile to principals or friendly to teachers. For a teacher, an annual unsatisfactory rating (or U rating) is not merely an extremely negative  judgment of  their teaching ability, it  is increasingly used   to begin  the  process of a teacher’s termination.  In short, it is an extremely serious matter – that much the more so when Bloomberg and Bloomberg’s minions are spending enormous amounts of energy trying to find new ways to fire teachers. (read more here).

Indeed, in the relationships between a teacher and a principal, I can scarcely think of any act more venal than those that Blige ordered.   And Iris Blige ordered this act to be done again and again and again against people whose sole fault, apparently, lay in the fact that Iris Blige, public servant, did not like them.   Therefore she set out  to destroy them.

And how does Mike Bloomberg’s DOE react to this horrific betrayal of public trust ? How does Mike Bloomberg’s DOE respond to this grotesque and terrifying abuse of authority?

It responds thusly: Iris Blige — who earns at the very least $132, 000 per annum – was fined $7, 500 – or less than $1000 for every teacher’s life she  attempted to destroy.

More. Somehow, despite these appalling revelations, the DOE found Blige fit to continue on as principal of Fordham High School of the Arts where her reign of terror  took place.

Nor are the orders Blige gave the only professional marks against this  educator. Blige is apparently so unbearable as a supervisor that few can stand working under her for long.  More than 100 teachers and 11 assistant principals have walked in five years.   Nor has such an atrocious reputation escaped the attention of either the upper echelon of the DOE or the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the latter of which held an anti-Blige rally outside the school that drew no less than 400 educators, parents and students and more than 30 UFT chapter leaders.

Thus it is safe to say that the gloriously destructive career of  Iris Blige has hardly been under the radar.

Given all this, it is extremely difficult for a person of good faith to make sense of the DOE’s decision to merely fine Blige and allow her to continue on in her position.

You might think the DOE would consider Blige a tremendous embarrassment, that much the more so as she is a product (a more appropriate word than “graduate) of the New York City Leadership Academy, the insidious institution created by Bloomberg to  fashion an army of  instant principals who are meant to impose the “business model” on the schools they are given.  You might think that the DOE and Bloomberg himself would use the horrific example of Blige to highlight exactly the kind of unprofessional behavior that brings disgrace upon the school  system, exactly the kind of vicious role model that is ruining the morals of the youth of America.

And all that.

But if you were thinking such thoughts, such thoughts would serve to reveal to you only how great is the distance between your thinking and that of the DOE under the dictatorship of Mayor Mike Bloomberg.   Make no  mistake about it:  a decision of this import,  of this  level of  controversy, of this degree of outright, naked  contempt for  teachers across the city would never have been made without the approval if  not the instigation of  Michael R. Bloomberg.

Consider it part of a pattern.  Just as Bloomberg had a golden opportunity to show teachers and parents a modicum of  respect and good will by hiring a educator to replace the much loathed former prosecutor  Joel Klein as Chancellor  of Education but choose instead  the clueless and haughty magazine publisher Cathie Black, so too with Iris Blige was Bloomberg  presented with an opportunity to, at the very least,  indicate that he and his DOE believed in fair play and some modicum of  professional behavior and decency.

But in neither case was it to be.

Instead, Bloomberg and his DOE used both opportunities to deliver the same not so    subtle, appallingly anti-democratic message: I,  Bloomberg, will do  as I will, when I will, to whom I will. If people disagree, it is only because they are inferior; if   innocent people are hurt in implementation of my ideas, such is the price of progress and in the end I will be proven right.  I, Bloomberg,  reign over this city and dwell in the region beyond good and evil and I, Bloomberg,  will purchase or destroy anyone and anything that dares to get in the way of what I, Bloomberg, know is right.

Both Cathie Black and Iris Blige are less messengers of Michael Bloomberg than they are messages in human form.  Their purpose is to serve in the greater glorification of Mike Bloomberg by doing their respective bits in the undermining and  dismantling of the public school system and its replacement by private corporations. Matters of  truth, fair play, and the common good  are of absolutely no relevance in the world in which they have chosen to dwell, in the game in which they have been chosen to play their parts.  There is only power and powerlessness. And in  Bloomberg’s world there is only one person who should have power.

There was no reason for the selection of Cathie Black as Chancellor of education other than to allow Mike Bloomberg to declare his God-like powers over the city of New York and his sea-like indifference to the concerns and beliefs of those affected by his decisions, especially educators and parents.    There is no reason for Iris Blige to continue working as a principal after attempting to ruin the lives  of  innocent teachers other than to allow Mike Bloomberg to let every   teacher in this city know how little he and the DOE  —  his DOE –  really think  of their work, no matter who they are, no matter what quality of their  teaching.

Such are sick and sad conclusions, but sad and sick are the fools we have permitted  to take power. No matter what walk of life we are in, no matter where we work or what we do, Iris Blige is a message that we ignore at our own peril. My fear is great and grows greater by the week that if we do not as a nation awaken and find some way to stand up to the forces bent on rendering us powerless, we will wake sooner than we think in a world so intellectually and spiritually barren as to be beyond recognition.