Tuesday, March 31, 2020

(Thanos Snap) We Just Lost Spring Break and 2% of Our Annual Pay

Ladies and Gentleman:

The fight to maintain our Spring Break is over.

We lost.

Word came down through the UFT this evening: The rumors are true. We are being compelled to work through Spring Break.  And it's not the DoE or Trump who is making us. It is everybody's hero, Andrew Cuomo. He and he alone has done this.

I once wrote that Andrew Cuomo was proof of why teachers need a strong union to protect them. And while, I have to admit I have been impressed with the job Cuomo's has done as much as anyone, the simple truth is once a Cuomo, always a Cuomo. This decision means an effective reduction of 2% in our for this year. He just erased our raises.

And I realize he is a man on a mission. And I understand that mission is my mission. But having us teach through that week as we support parents and students through this is free labor. No one else in society right now is being asked to perform free labor.

And, I have to be honest, I don't mind doing my small part here.  I know! I know! I realize it sounds corny and I know my audience here! But bare with me here ....

...  I just don't feel like I mind doing my part to help all of the parents and children I teach through this....

So if that means I teach (or virtual teach or whatever they call this) during this break, then OK. I'll roll with it. I've dealt with/lived through Giuliani and Bloomberg and Klein and the meltdown and more asinine building administrators than I can possibly count. . I'll deal with this too. I'll work through that break (it's actually only 4/13 - 4/17. We still have April 8th and April 9th off). And I'll represent my school my city and my profession well.
But that five days is still worth 2% of my annual pay.  Yours too. That contract is still property. Yours too. And Andrew "Thanos" Cuomo is going to have to work that 2% out somewhere down the line when this crisis has ended. No other profession in the United States would simply sit by and allow 2% of yearly salary to be taken from us by one man. And I want that 2% pay.

Quick Post Script

I have to add ...  if his father had done this to me this, I would not have minded at all! In fact, I may have been fine with it!! When I once wrote (about his father) that" I was a poor twelve year old boy who had been left behind ... when Mario Cuomo spoke at the 1984 Democratic National Convention" What I meant to convey was that that guy inspired me!

This one? meh. Andrew Cuomo is a bully. But he has a point. I want my 2% but readers of this blog know that I grew up a poor kid who now gets to teach Title I children (who are amazing) and I just don't want to leave them behind now. And so  Mr. Cuomo ... I'm in.

But you're holding that paper, sir.

Monday, March 30, 2020

In Surprise Move, the DoE Freezes School Budgets

Multiple folks have been touching base with me today that school based spending on books. equipment, purchase orders and most overtime has been frozen for the year by the NYCDoE. This is obviously in response to the budget calamity that the COVID19 crisis is brining on. But it is also an omen of terrible pain to come. 

Schools had just received their mid-year adjustments in the final days of January. In some cases, this is almost 50% of their overall school budgets.

That's between 30% and 50% of school budgets that were simply frozen.

It is important to watch that money.

Many things can happen with it. Typically, monies that schools do not spend are carried over until the next next. Up until at least 2015 (the last year I was full time blogging and keeping up with my contacts) this carry over money was not counted in the following year's budget. If the carryover rule is still in effect for this, and the DoE had intended to force schools to save their funds for next year, the they should be applauded.

But never forget, this is the same school system that once required that every school use one particular form, and then charged schools to purchase the forms from their facilities.

And in the Department of Education of New York,  it's Tweed first and students second.

This is why it is important to watch that money. If it is held in school budgets in order to ease the pain for next year, then freezing the budgets were a good thing. But if it is going to be taken out of schools accounts and go right back to "central" to help pay for the staff at "central", then the act borders on criminal. I would not be surprised at all if the DoE took this money from schools and then also performed those drastic cuts that Cuomo has warned about.

And none of this is being discussed right now in NYC. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there here it ...

That money could have been used to purchase software or hardware to make is easy on students. Instead, without warning or public announcement, the DoE froze it.

Fighting a war doesn't mean you tie the hands of your army and steal from residents you should be serving.

Meanwhile, NYSUT is already beginning to fight back against the obvious trouble that is coming down the pike. This email was just sent out to their political members last night (Thanks to the Solidarity member who shared this).

The.UFT.Needs.To.Begin.This.Work.As.Well. Now.Before it may be too late.

Urgent Call to Action:

As you may know, the governor recently announced that school districts should be prepared to make cuts to their budgets to account for lost revenue from the state.  If nothing else, this pandemic has highlighted the vital role that our schools play in our communities.  Now, more than ever, it is important that we prevent these dramatic cuts!  Furthermore, there is simply no need to make cuts.  The passage of the federal stimulus package infused 2 billion dollars to our state for public education stabilization!
We need your help to make sure legislators stand up in conference to prevent these cuts and save the future of our children’s education!  Make sure you call the Senators and Assemblymembers from your region.  You can find a link to call them along with a script here:
Additionally, last night NYSUT launched a television ad regarding this issue.  Please watch and share widely!  You can view the ad here:Thank you so much for your advocacy and commitment to our union!
Stay safe and stay healthy

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Here Is Your Budget Breakdown For the Year

"Drastic. Like nothing you have ever seen".

That was Andrew Cuomo at the end of his rant about how poorly New York State faired in the last federal stimulus package. It was a Sunday and, during the question period, he answered a few about New York State's budget. The state is facing a $15 billion budget gap, he said. The federal government will not help us, he said. Not one bit. Chuck Schumer, New York's senior senator with whom Cuomo does not get along should 'try to pass a bill that actually helps the state of New York", he said. As a consequence, the cut will be "drastic. Like nothing you have ever seen".

The reality is much less bleak but will still be very painful for all of us in the classroom.

Before this crisis began, the budget outlook was already looking bad. With a $6 billion deficit, a veil of opacity had fallen around Albany, with both houses of the legislature having failed to even have a space for the 2020-2021 bills and resolutions (See the Senate website here. And then the Assembly website here. You'll notice no bills. That's a first). So it was difficult to even see what they were up to. By in large, Cuomo had wanted to make up the state deficit but offsetting medicare costs to localities.

But then the crisis hit and tax revenues suddenly stopped rolling in. The upshot? A $15 billion deficit with no plan for filling it. Cuomo said today he had hoped this federal stimulus package would bring money to his state budget but failed to do so.

A bit of context first: The governor of New York typically has enormous budgetary powers. This is a pretty good history of gubernatorial powers in New York and those powers are vast. Typically, they are only offset by a very active legislature, who can veto his proposals with a 2/3 majority. And if the legislature doesn't act by the April 1st deadline, he has the power to enact his budget anyway, if for a short period of time.

This year, the legislature is setting up their rules so that they can vote from home . This means that the budget will be settled by the governor, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Majority Leader of the Senate. And if he doesn't like what they suggest, he can just mandate that his proposals become, in effect, the law for a certain period of time.

So this year's budget is, very much, Cuomo's show.

And he is seeking a flexible budget and a "slimmed-down spending package that his administration can adjust periodically throughout the fiscal year" (here). This means that when it comes, the pain we feel in schools and our own homes will come slow. Look for bad news at the beginning of each quarter next year -in July, October, February and April. It will come in waves.

He is is proposing to spend 41% of a $178 billion budget on education this year (here). This includes an overall 2.1% increase for NYSED (which could be more for school and district aid. That 2.1% is for all of NYSED and where, exactly, that aid goes has been kept very quiet) (here). But look for that to be adjusted as well. Typically, the state "foundational aid" is a 4% increase from the previous year. That's the number we should all be looking for to gauge how bad the cuts will feel at the beginning.

And all of that greatly effects NYC's budget. This will be de Blasio's first downturn and his past fiscal actions will greatly inform his future decisions with the city. It is important to understand that de Blasio is cheap and is stubborn. The UFT has had to find ways to pay for at least part of every single raise and every single new benefit since he has been in office. This is why we should expect that our retro checks will be paid next October.

Last year's NYC budget was $92.8 billion. Unlike the state budget, Bloomberg news classified New York City's budget as "sound" (here) as recently as last December. They reason they pointed to for this stability was the increase in property tax revenues since de Blasio has been in office. Revenue collected form property taxes are typically more reliable than sales tax revenue, so I believe that, as of December, NYC was in pretty good shape.

That didn't stop the mayor for asking for a 1.4% cut from agencies -$1.3 billion in all. I'm not sure how much the NYC Reserve Fund has, but 24 months ago, there was $1.125 billion (here). This is much akin to having a ten dollar bill in the glove box in case you run out of gas on the way home but it is probably enough to cover a 2% reduction in city spending.

And with outlets like the Post already calling for a state wide pay freeze of all government workers (here) we teachers are in for a very rough patch. How rough still depends on two things:

A) How twill he state and city politicians address the fiscal implications of this first wave of the fiscal end of the crisis? Imagine an economy that is in the process of going off of a cliff. Clearly the situation is dire. The car is going over that cliff. But the car has not yet fallen completely and no one knows how big that cliff os or how far the car mist travel before it actually hits the bottom. It is in this context that the two budgets the state (due April 1) and the city (due in June) -the ones that will determine our future as teachers- must be enacted.

B) How much worse will the fiscal out look get before it begins to improve? The light at the end of the runnel won't be the budget announcement next Wednesday. The true light at the end of the tunnel will happen on the other end of the 'curve' we're all being asked to flatten. Once we see an end in sight to the health crisis, we will all better understand how painful the 2020-2021 year will be.

I'll write more on that tomorrow.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

On the DoE's "Love" For Their Teachers And Students

This week, as the calamity of pandemic unfolded before our eyes, word began to spread of exactly how safe the city kept its teachers and students from harm during the first two weeks of March, 2020.

In a nutshell, the answer was not at all.

The first hints teachers received were from their students and former students. Anecdotal stories often reveal more facts than "reported" events or empirical scientific evidence. So when the news "reported" that 1 person and then 2 people in New York had the virus many of us, folks who had heard one student or two students had been "out sick" with "flu" had our suspicions.

I have personally heard of five teachers who have been in contact with alumni and present students whose families had been sick since March 1 and later, after the state government stepped in and began daily briefings, did test positive for the virus. That's give instances of colleagues who have second hand knowledge of family members of students or former students who had been sick with this -since March 1. (The city schools did not close until March 16 and even that was after a 150,000 teachers signed a UFT petition in 48 hours demanding the schools be closed.

And folks were terribly sick going back to March 1. So this virus was here before the city government acknowledged it in the manner they did.

We had also heard of anecdotal evidence of schools being kept open between March 16 and March 19 (the week that only adults were supposed to be in) despite positive lab results being presented to building school officials. I have personally heard of five cases in all -two schools in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn and two in Queens. These are cases where the DoE kept the school open (for days) despite medical knowledge that a staff member had tested positive.

And, although not officially documented, these instances are slowly now being reported. The latest example comes in today's Post, where a pregnant teacher who tested positive for the virus, tried and failed to get her Brooklyn school closed on March 17. 

Despite her pleas, the city Department of Education did not close the school on March 17 — 19 when the entire faculty was mandated to report for training on remote learning. What’s more, students and their parents flooded into PS 199 classrooms on March 19 to pick up books, iPads and laptops.

“All of my kids came in to get their stuff. They pretty much emptied their desks,” Iacurto, who was home sick, said she heard from colleagues.

DoE officials allowed those colleagues into that school knowing that the school had been a place of contamination. The same DoE officials allowed students into that school knowing full well that the school had been a place of contamination.

This is something you would expect from China, who retaliated against Li Wen Liang, the hero doctor who blew the whistle on this brand knew virus thus alerting the world. 

This is the extent to which we should not trust governments.

This past week, de Blasio asked city agencies to prepare to cut a total of $1.3 billion from their budgets. It was unclear whether he was asking them to city that from their future budget predictions (the next FY starts July 1st and his budget must be in by June 1) or form this current annual budget allotment (the city is spending this money from somewhere. It can only be from new borrowed monies or from currently allocated monies. The laws are usually pretty clear about currently allocated monies but there is no guarantee that those rules haven't been waived given the current crisis. Newly borrowed monies to spend that extra amount would have to accounted for in next year's budgets. I am personally hoping that that's the case an that next year's budget for the city will only have a $1.3 billion deficit. That would be a dream scenario.

At the same time, the federal government allocated this same amount -$1.3 billion- to New York City's government in the new stimulus plan. Certainly something is going on here. I wonder if, under the current realities, we will ever know. If you're a person who has a  concern about government overreach, this is a very dangerous time.

Throughout all of this, former UFT presidential candidate, Lydia Howrilka, of the Solidarity Caucus, has been posting pep-talk videos on her social media accounts. I am unable to embed the video on this blogging platform but here is her video from yesterday. She plans to get detailed about the budget outlook early next week.  So some of the topics she addresses are some of the same topics and issues we are all thinking about. What is important about this is that it comes at time when the governments are proving, to any critical eye, that they just can't be trusted and has created an obvious reality that we should all trust the people who work with our union more than anyone.

More updates later tomorrow. But , for now, drop me a comment: how would YOU describe the love the DoE has for its students and the respect it has for its teachers?

I would use just one word: nuts.

Friday, March 20, 2020

MASSIVE Layoffs & "Attrition" On the Way: Prepare Now

Just a quick update: I just noticed how many page views this post has received in hone hour Colleagues: Chill! Everything you are about to read is tomorrow's problem. Today's challenge is to find a way to do the best we can for our students under the circumstances If you want to read about tomorrow's problem, then please read on.  But if you're not there yet, and you are just facing today,, then stop reading now and just come back to this in a few months. Okay thanks.

I hope this title caught your attention.
Image result for be prepared
By now, you probably see that the entire state and city are shut down and that, unless you are an large airline, the national government will not be coming to anyone's rescue.

And I know you're probably home scared of the virus right now but you should also begin to think about what comes next -and what comes next is, as Norm Scott described "A dismal decade ahead" (here). So read slowly while I lay out what this means for us.

The economy has simply stopped. This is worse than ten years ago when the banking and credit markets simply stopped. This time, the entire economy has simply stopped. The doomsayers were right. The governments were simply not prepared for an emergency. Everything has simply stopped.

Tax collection has stopped as well and that is from where our salaries come.

In three month's time, state and local governments will have passed austerity budgets. Now Cuomo is pushing to get the state budget passed on time and he may actually be doing us all a favor with that. This is because the outlook will be much worse on May 1 than it will on April 1 but that is a story for another time. For now, just understand, as we move toward 20% unemployment, the state and local budgets will be terrible.

This will mean two things for New York teachers. Layoffs and Attrition.

And attrition will become a very dark and sinister policy in the months -and years- to come. More on that in a moment.

For now, it is a good idea to get prepared NOW. The first step is to understand layoffs.


Layoffs, if they happen (and I believe there is an excellent chance that they will) only happen in the following manner:

First, they layoff according to your license. So if layoffs happen, the DoE will announce which licenses are subject to the layoffs. Pay careful attention to this announcement from the UFT (not the DoE and not the press. Only the UFT will accurately tell us which licenses). Your license may be exempt! Your license may be on the chopping block!  You won't know for sure until UFT tells you.

THEN, within that license, they layoff by seniority. LIFO is the policy we have followed for decades now. This means that, within that license, if your license is even called, The LAST IN is the FIRST OUT. Again .. within that license.

Third, layoffs are city-wide. Not by your school. Just know that. You may have the lowest seniority in your school but have 15 years in the system. Under a situation like layoffs, they count the 15 years you have in the system, not the 1 year you may have in your school.  Know that. And don't believe anyone else who tells you otherwise.

What should you do?

1. Get your seniority number just as soon as you can. Each of us has a number of our seniority. If the time approaches, the DRs will have it. At that time call and nag your DR until you get it. These numbers are city-wide seniority within your license. So if you're the most senior math teacher in New York City, you will know.

2. Start saving now. Just to be safe. Even if you are not laid off, you may find yourself traveling a little further or experiencing some other cost you had not anticipated. I am on the nickel and dime plan until further notice.

3. Pay attention, but only listen to your union. If layoffs come, they will come along with a propaganda campaign the likes of which we haven't seen since the Bloomberg days. State government will lie to you. City government may lie to you. Your principal will lie to you. Only believe the word of the union during this time. Folks may not trust the union or may, like me, look upon the UFT a loving but critical lens, but the UFT was built for moments like that. They won't lie with the information you need. Not when it comes to that.


This is the policy that is so dark and sinister that it launched many many EDU blogs. This will be the true challenge every city school teacher will have to face.

Essentially, attrition means lowering the number of employees by firing them or convincing them to resign. This is where the city and the DoE will make it ugly. If the last example is any indication, it will be tough. For us in the NYCDoE, this will mean three things:

1. A rigorous enforcement of existing DoE Chancellor's Regulations. This means MORE investigators. The DoE will be hiring -investigators. Expect every single little infraction to be investigated -and be prepared for it to go to a hearing. EXPECT that your actions will be investigated. EXPECT to be sent to a 3020-A hearing. EXPECT everyone involved in that process to speak to you as if you should not be employed -as if you don't have a right to be employed. EXPECT the worst and, if it happens, you will be tough enough to get through it. It will, very much, be a "gotcha" environment.  So be prepared for that and Don't.Get.Got. (We'll all be writing more about that when the time comes).

2. Expect a tightening of existing regulations. The chancellor regs will be tightened so much as to catch as many of us as possible in some type of infraction. For example, the DoE social media policy will probably be tightened and may well become a Chancellor's Regulation. Imagine a world where the DoE updates its Chancellor's Regulation about homework (yes, there is one. Rudy Crew, I believe) and says that all teachers must grade and submit every day. Now imagine you miss a day and a week later an investigator calls you in and two months later you find yourself in a hearing. That is the type of work environment you should be prepared to drive to work in.

3. This is also mean harassment at the job site. Expect principal to speak poorly to you. Expect to be gaslight-ed. Expect an enormous amount of letters to your file. Every single school leader will be put in a position where there will be an economic incentive in getting teachers -many of whom are high in salary- to leave their budget, either by hook or by crook -and then they will be trained on how to get you out.  Is your salary over 80,000? Expect to be micromanaged and driven insane by an admin. Do you have to drop your kids off before work? Expect to be micromanaged and driven insane by an admin. Are you outspoken? Expect to be micromanaged and driven insane by an admin. In the environment that settles -maybe in as little as 18 months- expect to be a target by your administrators. This will be a fight -to the death- for that $80,000 a year salary of yours. Don't focus on being liked. Focus on surviving with you $ in tact. And don't expect the UFT to be there for you all the time here. The Bloomberg administration showed everyone where, within the UFT, the imperfections are -and the union itself will be off fighting different battles (state attacks on LIFE will be back. Drastic cuts to state budgets will be back on the table. Crazy arguments like merit pay and new teacher evals and a brand new assault on tenure will all be fought in Albany and in Washington. At every turn, your challenge will have to be "what do I need to do to survive with my job".

That's attrition. That's the extent of it. Gotcha squads and questions about LIFO and tenure and a malaise that drops across our all district. Again.

So, today, hold your family close. Be thankful that you are one of a very few who A) gets their full pay AND B) gets to stay at home and be as safe as you can. But when this nor'easter now known as COVID-19 ends, and when they are all done with talking about "unity" and about how "we're all in this together" there will be another storm, soon to form on the horizon, and that storm will feel more like several years of a bad hurricane.

Be prepared.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

It's Time to Close the Schools

Well, it's been another week. The numbers have grown, then grown again and then jumped.

As ICE reports, Ohio -with only 5 cases of the virus- has shut down every school in the state (here). Maryland has as well. The entire city of Seattle have (finally) closed their schools.

The number of cases in New York City jumped today -and the mayor has still not made the call to close here.

For the record, I love what the mayor and governor are trying to do. Keeping schools open sets of standard of normalcy. It allows parents to go to work and allows for many teachable moments inside the schools. I have always been a fan of eating and of the idea that schools are the place to get that level of care and support -to eat- is well worth our best efforts. The guy has realy earned my respect. Cuomo (who is doing a better job than any other elected official in the entire nation) has as well. He is doing so well that he has actually earned my vote next election.

Their first approach -Community Mitigation- is new to me and is interesting. Public awareness to wash hands is great. Asking businesses to have employees work from home is great as well.

Their fall back approach -this targeted social distancing strategy where some areas close and other essential areas do not- isn't too bad either. Banning 500 or more people from gathering is a good start. Closing Broadway? Not bad either. Get people away from people and the virus will stop spreading.

That this virus is moving so fast that, so far at least, no government in the world has been able to stop it from spreading, should not have prevented them from trying these approaches.. It was a great try.

These strategies were developed by people who are a lot smarter than me. But they were developed with developing nations in mind. This is the first world. A crisis has now come here and the strategies are, as we can see, just not working.

Twenty million people live in the greater New York City Metropolitan Area. 20 million! Whether children get sick or not, the schools they attend are at the very the center of incubation in any community. This is especially true for NYC. Children may not get sick but they will carry this virus and they will pass it along to those who will get sick. This will be their parents. It will be their grandparents. It will be the person behind the counter at the corner store.

And some of those people will be their teachers.

There are around 70,000 teachers in the New York City Dept. of Education. The global death rate from this pandemic is 3.4%. What will the mayor do if the unthinkable happens and 3.4% of the teaching corps -2,380 teachers- die from this?

Oh, are you rolling your eyes? I was as well -yesterday. Three weeks ago, doctors in Italy were as well. Now, they're making their claims to the rest of the world: BE PREPARED. Italian doctors have recently learned that, during a real crisis "Every ventilator becomes like gold".
"Someone already to be intubated and go to intensive care. For others it's too late... Every ventilator becomes like gold: those in operating theatres that have now suspended their non-urgent activity become intensive care places that did not exist before"

Some facts to consider.

  • Approximately eight million people live in New York City. 
  • 3.4% of eight million is 272,000. 
  • New York City has only 26,000 hospital beds. 

These are just facts.

There are also not enough ventilators. 
Oh yeah.

Five years ago Dr. Howard Zucker -the very person in charge of handling COVID-19 right now (sitting next to the governor at every press briefing this week) published guidelines on distributing ventilators during a time of a crisis just like this. This is what he wrote  (about New York) then:

"Specifically, many more patients will require the use of ventilators than can be
accommodated with current supplies. New York State may have enough ventilators to meet the needs of patients in a moderately severe pandemic. In a severe public health emergency on the scale of the 1918 influenza pandemic, however, these ventilators would not be sufficient to meet the demand."

Would not be sufficient to meet the demand. 

I am one of the few New Yorkers who has always loved this mayor. His policies, his world view and the way he understands people who live in impoverished circumstances has been a brief breath of fresh air. His heart is truly in the right place. I have become a recent big fan of the governor as well. But schools are the most obvious place where the virus can incubate and spread. It doesn't take a pandemic scientist to figure that one out.

They have tried mitigation and the numbers have grown. They have tried targeted social distancing and the numbers have grown. They are not prepared for something like what is happening in Italy and, oh yea, no government so far -in the entire world- has gotten through this without shutting down schools and or whole parts of normal society.

And now other politicians -ones who do not listen to scientists but who listen to voters- have listened to the warnings.

It is time to close the schools in New York.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Carranza's Email Reminds Me: Don't Trust The Teller. Trust The Tale

It has been just one week since I wrote "fast moving events change peoples' mindset in a very fast way" and suggested that school's in New York may actually close for a time because of COVID-19. And in that week -in just one week- events have happened very fast indeed:

  • A number of people in the metro area have tested positive for the virus 
  • The exact number is difficult to ascertain (not only because of fast moving events but also because of the poor way the media has kept everyone up to date). The NYC DOH page for the Coronavirus lists only 4 New Yorkers  as having tested positive, with 55 tests yet to be completed. 
  • According to the Times, "More than 2,700 people are under some form of quarantine in New York City." for having been possibly exposed to the virus (4000 across the whole state)
    • There are two types of quarantines; mandated quarantine and self quarantine 
  • A health care worker who had returned from a trip to Iran via JFK tested positive for the virus. The press took great care to say that she "had not" taken public transportation from the airport. 
  • A lawyer from Westchester County, and his entire family,  tested positive positive for the virus. The press did not take great care to say he avoided public transportation. 
  • That lawyer had not traveled outside the country and we have still not been informed about how he got sick.
  • The Federal Government does have enough COVID-19 tests for all Americans and seems ill prepared
  • There is an obvious sense that the mayor, in hopes of avoiding wide-spread concern, is not sharing all information
  • The language of whether or not schools will be closed is now addressed with the essential response of "we're not there yet"

The Independent published a piece that showed the governor depicting the Westechester situation in the following way

“There are going to be hundreds [of cases] in Westchester,” the governor said. “The number of people who will be infected will continue to increase. It is going to be dozens and dozens and dozens.”

Dozens and dozens and dozens.

Those are all predictions of a politician who would rather not be facing this problem. 

So not only has the spread of the virus into the city moved fast, government's responses have moved fast as well. 4000 people across the state into some type of quarantine (either 'self quarantine' or 'imposed quarantine').  Grim predictions. 

This is al in just seven days. 

Of all the systems put in place across all of the institutions in the entire country, I trust NYC's systems the most. After all, look at what happened: FOUR people came down with the virus this week and the city removed more than 2700 people, folks who could possibly contaminate others, from the population. That's fairly impressive and I can't see any other city (or state) in the nation that has moved as fast.

But when I see officials saying things that are so obviously not realistic, the one of these institutions, my employer, falls under more than a bit of suspicion. Schools are the most likely place for a virus to spread. They, besides the subway and buses, are the front lines here and this is where the defense should be at its best. 

Yet when Carranza sent his email out to school staff it was complete with assumptions that just don't pass the smell test. My red flag went up in the first paragraph:

At this time, it is important to listen to facts and not respond to fear ... 

This was a week where facts were not in full supply. Just a review of unanswered questions can show that Carranza's assumptions about how well the government is communicating were wrong. Who are the other 55 people currently being tested? How did the Westchester lawyer arrive and go home to work? Where did he shop? How were those 2700 quarantined persons identified? Were they all related to folks who had the virus? Can anyone say that *only* those who came in contact with these sick people were quarantined? Or were other people quarantined? Where do we self report if we think we may have come in contact with the virus? These are all questions that I heard others ask this week and no answer to these questions -to the concerned questions all relating to Could I get sick?- the electeds and appointed officials had no word to address.

And when folks who have no facts to address specific concerns scold me, and tell me 'listen to facts' -facts which a great many feel are limited- then that raises a suspicion. How can you tell a bunch of concerned people who don't have the facts they need to not respond to fear? The answer is easy: Your assumptions about what the government is telling people are wrong.

The Chancellor's assumptions about something else -his custodial staff- are wrong as well. In his email, he wrote us a list of things that he claims are being done to help schools not become incubators for the virus.

Measures taken in schools and other DOE sites include:

§  Increasing deep cleanings to two times per week, disinfecting surface areas with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved cleaning disinfectant;

  • Increasing deep cleanings in schools to two times per week, disinfecting surface areas;
  • Ensuring that all 1,800 schools have adequate hygiene and cleaning materials so that bathrooms are continuously stocked with soap and paper towels;

The mayor even asked anyone who saw a bathroom with no soap to call 311 so they can 'rain hell' on that school.  I like my school leader and custodian. I don't want hell to rain on them. At the same time, a simple review of my school -the very next morning- showed the same cleaninless levels in the bathrooms (not with soap in the dispensers and had did not look as though they had been the previous evening). When I heard from some others in different schools, from different boroughs!- I heard some of the same observations. The "deep cleaning" and "soap" promise did not pass the "my experiences" test. And the reasons for this are because you don't just snap your fingers and have bathrooms in over 1800 schools cleaned.

Carranza is the guy who will look a group of parents right in the eye and say things the way he sees it. And whether you like him or don't like him, there aren't many who can say he isn't credible. They can say many things but not credible isn't one of the criticisms I have heard.  I find this chancellor to be exceedingly credible. And yet wrong assumptions make a person look like they're just not.

Most concerning of all were his assumptions about school experiences. I read this part his email and laughed, for a moment, out loud (of course that moment ended as soon as I realized how concerning this actually is). The chancellor said that the DoE was

Strongly encouraging students to take time for handwashing, especially before meals; monitoring this and making changes as needed to ensure students have the time

A typical cafeteria holds 100 students. There is, usually, one bathroom for each gender near each cafeteria. So how long does it take for 100 students to wash their hands before their 45 minute lunch period? What measures are you taking to strongly encourage this to happen? With your building staff spread so thin that many schools cannot properly monitor a cafeteria, how, exactly, do you intend to monitor hand washing? Were you going to delegate that to an already underpaid school aide? An already overburdened dean? Or counselor? How was this system made? When was it piloted or tested? What, exactly, are you talking about when you say you're going to have 1.1. million children wash their hands before lunch time? Are you saying that you've just thought of this? Or are you saying that someone had a plan for this years and years ago, while all of my colleagues caught colds or the flu or red or whatever other ailment visits the poor classroom teacher? Are a few of the questions that popped into my own mind after reading that. 

I don't feel like the chancellor's assumptions about the surrounding supports are spot on either. Many people won't remember this but, ten years ago, during a similar scare for H1N1, the DoE sent hand sanitizer to every single school in the city. These dispensers were hung, and filled, and students were told, by staff (who had been told by their supervisors who had been told in a Principal's Weekly to do it) sanitize your hands whenever you're in the hallways. Now. This isn't being done. 

And I like this Chancellor! And I think he and his boss are leading the best systems to help slow the spread of this virus in the entire nation! And, who knows, maybe they will be able to do this for one more month (before the warm weather hits and all of this starts to pass until next year) but reading that email and realizing that almost all of this man's assumptions are not correct, made me think of famous advice from poet DH Lawrence. 'Don't trust the teller. Trust the tale"

So far in New York, the tale is showing that state and city governments are doing as best as any government has so far (my opinion). But the bullshit is slowly beginning to pile up and I'm also seeing quotes like "we're not there yet" with regard to closing schools and predictions like "hundreds. Dozens and dozens and dozens" with regard to one county so that tale is also a bit foreboding.