Six years ago, he took the time to graciously endorse endorse me for a city-wide elected position with the union.
And over ten years ago, after being handed ridiculous accusations by a principal and spending far too long in the rubber room, he started to write one of the most widely-read EDU blogs in the city.
A villain to some, but an outright hero to many, Chaz blazed a trail for finding, then calling out malfeasance anywhere he could in the DoE. And, despite many retaliations, and an almost permanent assignment to the ATR (teachers' version of "traffic duty) his voice was a source of consistency that spoke clearly and did not mince words: The shit-show that occurs in city schools is not the fault of teachers but the result of a system plagued by largess and terrible leaders who had no business leading places where children could learn.
You didn't have to know Chaz to be inspired by his acts. The positions he took on his blog had the effect of making almost any reader brave enough to stand and to articulate that the narrative being pushed -that all of the failures of children since the turn of the century were because of teachers- was complete bullshit. His writing made you feel brave enough to say in any arena.
Outspoken from the start, and forthright to his core, the blogger Chaz never backed away from asserting what he felt was right.
The EDU bloggers in New York City are a very small community of educators. We're all classroom teachers. not one of us is a guidance counselor or a school admin or any one of those fancy programmers. We've all spent multiple decades actually teaching. And, because we all work so hard, we see how small of a voice the actual teachers in this system have. We all approach that voice in different ways. Arthur does it with pure intelligence. Norm does it by documenting, over four decades, the comings and goings of the DoE's teacher union. Patrick, my favorite, uses a command of the language of such a high caliber that I have never seen before. I try to use Horatian Satire. Chaz' style of blogging was to call it all out. Chaz was the guy who would find a terrible caricature of whichever depart of ed figure or policy he was redressing and call it out for what it was. It didn't matter to him if he had said that the principal selection process was terrible. If he found an example of a terrible principal (and there were many) Chaz would remind you.
I understand he was an outspoken man, one who had the tenacity to stand by his convictions no matter the professional cost. I was glad to learn that he had retired and had mastered the complexities of the retirement system in the same manner he had mastered the complexities of the DoE. I was shocked to read today that he had passed. The selfish loss I feel as a blogger is far outweighed by the loss that I know all teachers have just experienced. We are just at the moment where we (teachers) really needed a voice like his -calling out BS whenever he saw it and never apologizing for it.
And in between those two gravities is a man, himself with a family and a life to be concerned with, who helped teachers with his strong and far reaching voice for well over a decade.
The essayist Thomas Lynch once wrote, "The facts of life and death remain the same. We live and die, we love and grieve, we breed and disappear. And between those existential gravities, we search for meaning, save our memories, leave a record for those who will remember us.”
Eric "Chaz" Chasenoff left quite a record and many of us will remember him because of it.
Tuesday, May 05, 2020
I am the son of Chaz and like to inform you that he passed away this afternoon from the COVID virus. My father passed in peace beside his loved ones. We are hoping to have a memorial service for him once we are able to, but for now we are going to have a small private family funeral. Thank you all for reading his blog, following him all these years, and the support you gave him. Thank you.