Monday, December 27, 2021

NYC Teachers Seeking To Know How Many of Us Were Not Allowed To Be Tested

The Solidarity caucus of the UFT has survey out asking anyone at any school who experienced difficulty or interference trying to take a covid test at work last week. The survey takes only a minute and they are only trying to collect data and connect with any teacher who felt that getting a test during the Omicron surge was more difficult. 

Here is a link to the survey

Sunday, December 19, 2021

UFC Announces Candidates For UFT Election

Camille Eterno for president of the UFT!!

And other great candidates for the UFT election. 

I know my readers. There are other names that are, well, okay then.  But these opposition groups have never, to my recollection, been united to this extent. I like unity. (I like Unity too, but this uncaucus movement is just beginning and I truly like the idea of no ideology or blind loyalty in elections). 

Here is the press release (and don't forget to read my last post about the DOE-nut of the week)

December 19, 2021 - Statement regarding the current COVID Surge Emergency, Calls for Action, Demands and Our Candidates For A Better Union

This is a crisis week in the COVID pandemic. NYC is exploding with cases. This week alone cases have tripled in our city. Theater, sports, music venues, and colleges are shutting down, or taking a pause, just as they did in March 2020. And just as the city and mayor lagged behind in 2020, the DOE and UFT leadership is lagging behind in its response now while putting students, teachers and whole communities at significant risk.

Listen to what the data is telling us! Expert epidemiologist, Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the University of Minnesota, in reference to our city’s data stated, “I think we’re really just about to experience a viral blizzard.” The CDC is expecting critical spikes in hospitalizations and projects that over 15,000 Amercians will lose their lives to COVID in the week of January 8, 2022. Here in New York, over 21k cases were reported on Friday alone - a record number of cases during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the DOE situation room is falling apart. Testing and tracing at schools is overwhelmed and dysfunctional. Data reporting is inadequate, opaque, and skewed. Now is the time for the UFT to step up to the plate to protect its members and school communities with strong demands for action during this chaotic mayoral transition. It’s not enough to make tepid and vague suggestions for the incoming administration in January. We are in a crisis now and we need action now. Mulgrew’s email of December 17th offers nothing but the same acquiescence to mayoral/DOE policy that exposed so many of us last time. If the DOE is incapable of keeping schools safe we, as educators, must act on behalf of our school communities.

Actions by Teachers and School Communities For This Week and Beyond
We can act now by utilizing the resources, rights and opportunities we already have available to us:

  • ●  Follow existing guidance on getting tested when sick or exposed immediately. See the DOE personnel memo here.

  • ●  Stay home if you're sick: Be honest on the health screening. If you have COVID symptoms, or symptoms of any illness this week, stay home. Did you know that the CDC includes other symptoms such as a headache or runny nose as COVID symptoms?

  • ●  You shouldn't have to use any CAR days if you correctly follow the guidelines and procedures. Remember you are allotted 3 CAR-free days from onset of symptoms to seek a COVID test. The same goes if you actually test positive for COVID (even without symptoms).

  • ●  Testing: Rapid tests are great, but rely on a lab-confirmed PCR test also; stay home until you get both results (submit the PCR to your principal as proof of testing).

  • ●  Insist on being tested at your school after students are tested. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer from testing and administrators. Testing is our way to maintain safe school communities.

  • ●  Reach out to families to let them know the severity of the crisis and what they may want to do to keep their children safe.

  • ●  Consider making arrangements with families who feel unsafe this week to post assignments for those keeping their students home. If possible, coordinate posting work with the existing quarantines at the school.

  • ●  Be mindful of the social emotional needs of our students and keep their workloads reasonable and manageable. Keep your per session opportunities in mind while posting work for classroom quarantines.

  • ●  Consider organizing informational picketing before and after school to highlight our safety needs during this crisis, along with families and allies.

    Demands for Safety from DOE

    Safety must be the overriding concern during this pandemic. City teachers unions like United Teachers Los Angeles have successfully demanded much more in terms of safeguards than the Unity-led UFT. United for Change demands the following from the DOE:

● Classroom/School/City Closures:

  • -  There is no current threshold for classroom, school or city closures. We need more definitive

    thresholds for closures based on the science and specific criteria.

  • -  Since breakthrough cases are now the norm, we should quarantine vaccinated students, teachers, and staff who are exposed - not just unvaccinated students.

  • -  Provide KN95 or fitted N95 masks to all students/staff. Demand that principals actually enforce that they are worn in school settings.

  • -  Strengthen classroom and school closure protocols at least to their maximum 2020-2021 levels. The current standards appear linked more to the question of ‘are there enough teachers or subs to keep the building open’ than what is healthy/safe for our staff, students, and families.

  • -  Fully staff the situation room and ensure notifications and decisions are made in a timely manner. We propose a watchdog group of UFT & parents as oversight in the Situation Room.

    ● Testing:

  • -  All students and employees must be given baseline testing. We call for students and teachers

    to return on January 3rd (through the 5th, if need be) with a negative PCR test.

  • -  Increased access to weekly testing–regardless of vaccination status. Provide all in our school

    community with free at-home tests, regularly. Robust testing for all staff and students from

    grades 3K, Pre-K and beyond must be available in our city schools without impediments.

  • -  Return testing at least to maximum 2020-2021 levels, and do so for both vaccinated and

    unvaccinated persons. Provide those students who don’t consent with a remote learning option.

  • -  Ensure randomized testing so that the same students and staff are not tested over & again.

  • -  Increase access to testing by making neighborhood schools testing sites.

    ● Ventilation:

  • -  With temperatures now too low to keep windows open in many schools that rely on them almost

    entirely for ventilation, we must improve indoor ventilation, heating, or relocate overcrowded

    classrooms to safer environments.

  • -  Add real HEPA filters to classrooms.

  • -  We need access to all CO2 readings in classrooms and common spaces. Readings should be

    happening regularly in all buildings and all classrooms.

    ● Other:

  • -  Expand UFT-staffed remote options for students with personal or family health issues.

  • -  Given the health risks teachers face and the realities of long COVID, we must increase access to out-of-network healthcare options for first year teachers. And no more healthcare givebacks affecting in-service members and retirees in our upcoming contract.

- End teacher observations for this year, as Los Angeles has done for most teachers. There are reports of teachers being pressured to seat students at an unsafe distance to facilitate pre-pandemic ‘collaborative learning strategies’ in schools with high community spread. Teachers shouldn’t have to choose between their students’ and families’ health and their own professional livelihood.

- Expand CAR-free sick days for teachers who have COVID symptoms or have children of their own who are exhibiting COVID symptoms.

A Better Union, A Responsive Plan

The pandemic is here for the foreseeable future, but our current disconnected UFT leadership doesn’t have to be. United For Change candidates running in the spring 2022 UFT elections offer a better alternative and real, responsive solutions. Here is what they say about the current crisis:

Camille Eterno (ICE), our candidate for UFT President, running against Michael Mulgrew, says, “The current UFT President cannot wait for the new mayor to take office to act. The time to demand a safe teaching and learning environment and inform members of their rights is NOW! Mulgrew is fiddling, just like he did in March of 2020, while COVID is again spreading like wildfire in NYC. We must do better.”

Annie Tan (MORE), for UFT Secretary, states, “Lack of leadership, from Mayor de Blasio and our own union, has led to thousands of cases among students and staff that never needed to happen. Our schools are left with major staff shortages and COVID spread at school, preventable with baseline COVID testing, universal weekly testing and other common-sense safety measures. Educators, students and families deserve leadership that acts decisively on what is happening at schools, including remote learning options; 'normal' was never good enough."

Luli Rodriguez (ICE/Solidarity)candidate for UFT Treasurer: “At The Heritage High School, there are only 11 classrooms for 350 students. Certain classrooms are over-capacity. Current UFT leadership dropped the ball by not successfully pressuring the mayor to lower class sizes. We cannot wait any longer for real enforceable safety measures to be implemented."

Lydia Howrilka (Solidarity), a candidate for UFT Executive Board, representing high school teachers, adds:
“I urge caution and a return to remote instruction for the week of December 19 and 1 week after the New Year. We can't control what people do. But we can take preventative measures.”

Alex Jallot (MORE), a candidate for UFT Executive Board, representing high school teachers: “We are once again finding ourselves in a position where our students, colleagues, and families are at high risk. Cases have been increasing rapidly over the past week and the data suggests those numbers will only go up. We demand that schools be able to go remote for this upcoming week to keep everyone safe. Furthermore, we demand that everyone produce a negative test upon our return after the holiday break. We were told to prepare our classrooms for a remote possibility, and now is the time to utilize that. It is imperative that we act immediately in order to save lives.”

Edward Calamia (New Action) a candidate for UFT Executive Board, representing high school teachers: “The policies coming from Washington, Albany, and DOE Central must be judged based on the experience of the workers and students who enter school buildings every day. We who are on the front lines need something better, we who are on the front lines have accepted the challenge to create something better.”

Nick Bacon (New Action), a candidate for UFT Executive Board, representing high school teachers: We know all too well the consequences of our union leadership’s failure to act in March 2020. Michael Mulgrew's current pandemic strategy isn’t working. Enough with the empty gestures. The time is now to proactively ensure the safety of teachers, students, and families.”

Daniel Alicea (EONYC), a candidate for UFT Executive Board, representing middle school teachers: “As a dad and educator, we must do right by our families and our kids - keep them safe. Our students from ages 5-11 are not fully vaxxed. Neither are children in 3K and pre-K. We aren’t testing kids in 3K or pre-K and that’s unacceptable. We may need a pause for in-person instruction to avert a catastrophic outbreak. A pause will provide relief to our healthcare workers who are overwhelmed, our school staff shortages and it may, ultimately, save lives."

Our Slate For Adcom Ocers, High School Executive Board and Middle School Executive Board

(Our other candidates for Elementary School Executive Board, Functional, At-Large and AFT/NYSUT are forthcoming in the coming weeks. We will post bios and pictures of our candidates in the coming days and weeks on our website - WWW.UNTEDFORCHANGE.VOTE)

AdCom (Officers)




Assistant Secretary


Assistant Treasurer

VP for Elementary Schools

VP for Middle School

VP for High School

VP for CTE

VP for Special Education

VP for Education At Large

VP for Non-DOE

High School Executive Board

Candidate / Caucus Affiliation/

Camille Eterno (ICE)

Annie Tan (MORE)

Sally Beane White (Independent)

Luli Rodriguez (UFT Solidarity/ICE)

Rosie Frascella (MORE)

Tameka Solomon (MORE)

Poonita Beemsigne (UFT Solidarity)

Thomas McDonough (New Action)

Eric Severson (UFT Solidarity)

Hannah Fleury (OT/PT)

Gloria Brandman (Retiree Advocate)

Christina Vickers (UFT Solidarity)

Position: Candidate / Caucus Affiliation

High School Executive Board

Ronnie Almonte (MORE)
Nick Bacon (New Action) Edward Calamia (New Action) Lydia Howrilka (UFT Solidarity) Alex Jallot (MORE)
Ibeth Mejia (UFT Solidarity/ICE) Ilona Nanay (MORE)

Middle School Executive Board

Position: Candidate / Caucus Affiliation

Middle School Executive Board

Daniel Alicea (EONYC) Kevin Prosen (MORE) Yvonne Reasen (EONYC) Olivia Swisher (MORE)


Saturday, December 18, 2021

Here is the DOE-nut of the Week

New York City Schools will remain open next week. 

A former COVID-19 adviser for President Biden's transition on Thursday warned of a “viral blizzard” that is about to hit the U.S. as COVID-19 cases rise and concerns about the omicron variant continue to fester (The Hill)

We're all just sort of watching as the storm approaches.

Despite an absolutely enormous increase in the COVID numbers, the school system in New York City will not shift to remote learning next week. 

The plan, developed last summer when everyone thought the numbers would continue to decline, is a reactive one. It provides for classes, or sometimes whole schools, to temporarily close if there is a spike in cases.  The assumptions this plan is built upon depend on a process where exposure to the virus continues to decline and to be less harmful to society than it has been in the past. It's a goodbye plan. It's a pre summer, 2021 plan. It does not take into account a variant that is almost entirely resistant to the regular doses of vaccine. There is no plan for a virus for which there is no effective vaccine. 

At the same time, the economy of New York City is too fragile to sustain a crisis. Unemployment in New York City was 9 percent in November (USDOL). This is at a time where the national average is only 4.2 percent (USDOL). 

As discussed on this blog before (here), there are no moratoriums for renters anymore and the coffers for unemployment insurance have long since been empty from the 2020 crisis. Mothers and fathers of school aged children (who, let's face it, have already born the brunt of burden here), are paying more for everything from groceries to gasoline. If they own a small business, there will be relief program coming from Washington.  Parents have gotten all of the help they are going to get -and they know it. They simply cannot afford to miss any more opportunities to make money -and they know it. 

To make matters worse, many of them will face a stiffer challenge obtaining credit, because the Federal Reserve will soon be raising interest rates to combat inflation (NPR). If they do not know this now, they will very very soon. 

Put simply: There is absolutely no political appetite to do anything that may disrupt what jobs the economy has been able to claw back from the 2020 crisis, period.  Closing businesses will cost jobs. But closing schools to go remote will seize the whole economy -and it may not soon recover. Everybody knows this. They just don't want to say it. 

That the governments have mostly all failed to get medicines needed to combat the infection to our local pharmacies must also be mentioned here. 

 Opting instead for "vaccine for all" strategy, the medicines here in New York State are available to the infirm only if one is sick enough to be admitted the hospital.  And hospitals in other cities are already so understaffed that many are opening wondering if they have the capacity to handle another huge surge (LATimes: "‘A perfect storm’ for Delta, Omicron could overwhelm hospitals within weeks"). 

No one had anticipated that vaccine for all strategy to not work. Yet the explosion in COVID cases since Thanksgiving weekend have proven otherwise. The strategy will not keep people from becoming sick. And the voting public is about to see, to whichever degree it is harmful, the results of a strategy that has not contained the virus. I take no political opinion on this topic. I mean only to make the point: The public's trust in their governments have been undermined and that will have real world consequences. If the governments remain open, they will be blamed for high numbers. If the governments shift to remote learning for children, they will be blamed for the economy. 

In the face of two opposing yet unappetizing options, the politicians who get elected to government will almost always choose the path of least resistance. The path of least political resistance here is to keep schools open, to rely on the plan the state has approved and to hope for (and talk up) the best. Andso, your DOE-nut of the week:

New York City Schools will remain open.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Three DOEnuts & Free Advice

Three turn of events happened this week that made me reach for my donuts. 

First, I was a little taken aback when I observed the vulnerabilities of AFT leadership this week. We do live in a post COVID world and almost everything here happens online. Add the chain of events that can best be described as the culture war flareups to this dynamic and you'll find a toxic brew. The deeply rooted clashes have been occurring with much more frequency than in the pre covid world. Many of them happen or are planned online. And, as the amount of activity has increased, so too have the acts of counter activity.  Remember when saboteurs took out a Trump rally? They used social media to convince others to register and make sure all of the seats were sold out -to anti Trumpers.  Well right wing activists were able to shut down an AFT event. 

Doing her best to organize a Town Hall that would neither inflame the left or the right, the AFT president fell into a political pit and inflamed both. Here is how the left reported it. It captures fully half the story.  The other half is what alarmed me: The right wingers harassed her participants on social media, which caused them to pull out over issues of safety -effectively killing the event. That these type of acts were directed at a teacher union is disgusting. But to see that the AFT is vulnerable to something like this is deeply deeply concerning. I hope the AFT is having a 'let's learn from this moment', because if these types of tactics are being directed toward a union representing school teachers, then we have a much larger problem. Don't forget, we're too busy to open up and speak up for ourselves. That's partly why we have a union. A union can be strong during those moments when we ourselves can not. The thought that the my union's ability to build alliances (which is the best weapon in its (chosen) arsenal)  can be vulnerable to an attack like this remind me how vulnerable I am without a union. I hope it's not over the top to say: that's chilling. I hope the AFT pulls it together. 

Second, I was surprised to see that Mike Mulgrew wasn't at the announcement of David Banks becoming the next next school chancellor. I am fairly sure I remember him there when Carmen Fariña was announced. I am almost quite sure I remember him there when Richard Carranza was announced. I don't know, I just had the sense that the union president should be there. However, I noticed exactly none of the articles about Banks' announcement mention or show the face of the teacher union president at all. That's alarming and it should be a read flag for anyone who cares to pay attention to these things.   For the past seven years, this city's school system has been held together by teachers holding hands and dong their best to make sure bad policies didn't hurt children. In fact, a large part of that saving grace was that the UFT was at the table when many of the decisions were considered. That, according to the state chancellor, is "including teacher voice". 

Yeah, the person who represents teachers wasn't there. That's a problem. This union is going to have to fight for its seat at the table -and I'm not talking about the political table. I'm referring to the table where they negotiate fair working conditions and a fair salary for me. They're going to have to fight for its seat at that table. That's troubling. 

Third was this blog post, describing Dan Wesiberg and reminding me that the person who will be handling the day to day operations for the NYC Dept. of Education is as anti teacher as they come. Anti teachers hate teacher unions. And a review of the Weisberg's tweets alone (tweeted after he had left the Bloomberg DOE and as recent as 2020) is almost terrifying but well worth the read. The thought of an anti teacher in charge of teachers is beyond chilling. 

The last time these types of folks were in charge, they divided the school system between the "haves" and the "have nots" and created an illusion of "choice".  The "haves" got brand new boutique schools with names like "Beacon", "Elenor Roosevelt" or "Bard", while the "have nots" got a reminder that choice isn't choice for the tens of thousands of students who applied but did not get in, and that choice wasn't ever choice for the thousands of students who do not win the lottery for the charter they had been sold and sought out as a better option. Choice wasn't choice for them. 

But then that's not what made the papers. 

No, no. The last time these people ran the show, the "have nots" were simply divided -culled, in fact- and over-concentrated into over-populated schools that were under-funded and, eventually, closed under the allegation that the school (not the district or the politicians like this person) had failed the students. This is the legacy Mr. Weisberg is going to bring to the table and it's super concerning. 

If that's what we're headed again, then I'm gonna need more donuts. 

The last time the ed reformers went overboard with their reforms, it hurt a great many students and established, in the most literal sense, an accurate narrative of a Tale of Two Cities. They treated school teachers in the most terrible of ways and precisely none of their reforms -from Common Core to VAM teacher evaluations- left a marked improvement on children by way of student achievement. 

And, because New York City is the media capitol of the nation, they left a stubborn national teacher shortage in their wake that has persisted now for almost 10 years. In fact, at the end of the day, they had to be beaten back by teachers and parents who were so fed up they took to the streets together in protest. 

Having said, there is much inside their narrative that should not be taken literally and I'd advise laying back to see how things may shake out.

For instance, teachers will not be forced to work every Saturday. Eagle Academy (form where Chancellor Banks comes) does not have Saturday school in the strict sense of the word. They have a Saturday Program. Same for the summer time. If expanded all across the city, these programs would be voluntary for UFT teachers and many (many) UFT teachers will gladly sign up, because teachers like working with children and getting paid. 

In addition, Mr. Weisberg's presence should also be measured against the next mayor's and new chancellor's stated aims: To make Tweed (and the "satellite central locations') more efficient by shifting some of those human resources back to the classroom. Mr. Weisberg may well be here for that purpose and, frankly, teachers would like Central to be efficient as well. There are people there who get paid just to pour through school CEP plans or student IEPs, looking for typos and others who's only job is to give PDs to teachers with no measurable way to determine the outcome of their work. Look, when there is a $38 Billion annual budget and we still do not have access to laptop computers for student work (which is the case in my and in many other schools) then we have a huge problem. Maybe the time has come to shift some resources back to the classroom level. 

This is why I would advise paying careful attention to the NYC education news but not overreacting unless they enact a policy that clearly hurts students (or one that hurts students by way of hurting their educators). 

And the teacher union, despite the obvious chaos that they are in on their own, has to elbow their way in.  They can't accept a situation where the head of the union isn't visible when a new district leader is picked. If Mr. Banks is seen like that again, then there needs to be 100 teachers across the street protesting and demanding that our union be publicly treated with courtesy and respect. We teachers (many times with support of the union) were the ones continuing to improve during the past eight years when leadership was on the wane. If leadership is going to be on the wax again, then we don't want to see our union dissed. The UFT needs to push their way into that dynamic. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Weapons In Schools

In August of 2020, news organizations were reporting that gun shops all across the country were empty. Every person who could were buying guns (here). 

By January of 2021, the Washington Post was reporting that gun sales had, in fact, spiked all across the country in March and April of 2020 and that fear of unrest was the main reason:

"... purchases soared in March and April as the effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus led to food shortages, empty streets and millions of lost jobs. Then firearm sales peaked in July, in the weeks after massive protests against police brutality spread throughout the nation...

The flood of gun sales — about 23 million over the course of the year — represents a 64 percent increase over 2019 sales, according to a Post analysis of federal data on gun background checks. The 2020 numbers include purchases by more than 8 million first-time buyers, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group..."


The plain truth is this: During much of 2020, a great many people sought to buy handguns expressly to be sold on the black market inside urban areas during a time of great crisis. As a consequence, we now have a gun problem inside urban areas. New York City is no different. 

Our incoming mayor seems to feel this is related to organized crime. I believe him. 

"...It is my hope that we will also go further and create a Joint Gangs and Guns Task Force that combines information and resources across all relevant government agencies, which would aggressively go after illegal gun dealers and traffickers with targeted investigations and tougher penalties..."

Organized crime, via street gangs, has a way of utilizing high school students, when needed.  This is why it should be no surprise that some of these guns are showing up in New York City high schools:

A 17-year-old city student was busted with a loaded 9 mm pistol and more than $30,000 in cash inside a Brooklyn high school Wednesday, according to law enforcement sources.

A school secretary spotted what she believed to be a firearm inside the backpack of a student at the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice in downtown Brooklyn around noon, sources said.

The staffer spotted the weapon while the tardy student recorded his attendance inside a school office.

NYPD units were called to the scene and discovered a stack of bills amounting to more than $30,000, along with the loaded gun, sources said.


And, as guns enter schools, so too do other weapons:

City officials placed a single metal detector in a Brooklyn school building the day after a student was busted with a loaded gun — and turned up 21 weapons in just one day, law-enforcement sources said.

Thursday’s surprise installation netted a varied arsenal — nine knives, seven cans of pepper spray, four stun guns and a pair of brass knuckles, sources said.

Look, we have a weapons problems in schools. It is no one person's fault. But the problem is upon us. No one is looking too hard at this problem, because no one wants to acknowledge such things, but we have a weapons problem in our schools. And that problem needs to be addressed -now.

To be clear, this problem is part of a much larger cascade of events; one that began during the darkest days of the lockdown and in far away places where guns can legally be purchased.

But it has now evolved into guns and other related weapons being brought into schools -both by students who seek to aggressive behavior and by students who are simply seeking to feel safe within an unsafe environment.  If this problem persists, it will continue to cascade. We will continue to see more weapons used in NYC schools and, eventually, will be faced with crisis and read about how these weapons had actually been used during an altercation to harm another child or school staff member.  If it persists, we will continue to see lower attendance in our classrooms (because children tend to stay away from violent environments) and we will eventually see a return to "zero tolerance" policies because no one will know what else to do. (Those policies will cause much more harm to many more children than any single violent altercation ever could. But, the pattern of history persists, that what we will all have).

But if this problem is addressed, in a proactive, pro-parent and student manner, it will be nothing more than a blip on the screen of history of an oddball year. 

These proactive measures should include stakeholder from the entire school community. Teachers need to be trained again on how to identify gang related behavior in schools and on ways to keep a quiet, yet careful eye open for any weapons that may be in a student's book bag or on a student's person. Support staff, including counselors and school disciplinary staff, need trainings on how to address students who have weapons. (Those trainings need to include creating space for children to express what can we can do so that they feel safe enough to come into school without having to bring a weapon, but the trainings must also include strict disciplinary measures for any weapon carrying student who is seeking to conduct aggressive behavior.) School leaders need to update their Building Safety Plans (completed every year around this time)  to include more emergency lockdown drills, procedures for how every teacher can communicate with the front office should a crisis situation erupt near (or even in) their classroom. And schools need to develop and implement a plan for keeping the safety corridor (that space between the school building and the nearest public transportation stop) safe during arrival and dismissal times. And schools need to partner with NYPD for help and for support. Because if a student winds up hurt or worse inside of a NYC public school due to weapons violence, then the NYPD will be partnering with schools and school officials will have far less voice within a crisis dynamic than they do now. 

If we don't figure out ways to establish and maintain a care filled presence in the candy stores and on the corners where city high school students gather before and after their academic day, then the NYPD soon will. That would not be a bad thing. But it does not have to be a necessary thing either. This school system has gotten guns and weapons out of schools before. It can do it again. But it needs to set the priority now before these events continue to cascade to a point where a child or school staff member becomes seriously  hurt inside a city school. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Verbal Attacks By Paid Union Employees Must Stop -Now

In my last post, I wrote about paid employees of the teacher union (up to and exceeding $160,000 per year) who use their paid salary time and their paid salary positions to argue with and confront members of the union. In fact, part of what I wrote went something like this:

[Regular members] who are publicly critical of the union have been accused of being "anti union" or of "having problems" just because they choose to spend their free time criticizing the people who run the union. To be clear, these are sometimes very confrontational exchanges -and they are always being initiated by the paid foot soldiers of the teacher union.

Basically, the long and the short of it is this: If you want to disagree with a critic of the union, that's fine. You're a highly paid professional. We trust in your ability to articulate that without slipping out of your professional responsibilities.  But don't take advantage of the opportunity to slip into verbal attacks. 

And, no,  the silly nicknames from the. critics don't help. But you're the professional. You're the one who, we presume, has professional standards to adhere to. Please adhere to them. 🤷‍♂️. Simple right?

Now Norm Scott has spent decades being publicly critical of the leadership of the UFT. It's sort of what he does. Don't misunderstand me. He loves this union. He is the strongest unionist I have ever met. Norm does more without being paid than a great many who are paid. (He also possesses one of the more brilliant minds I have ever come across and is one of the kindest persons I know and everyone who knows him says the same thing). 

So it was interesting to see that, after Norm posted about this topic on his blog, another highly paid Unity-Loyalist UFT staff member chomed in to attack him. 

To attack Norm. 

To attack Norm Scott. 

The guy who used to write, edit and publish a free newspaper just for UFT members and then hand them out at the monthly city-wide UFT meetings. (The newspaper was called EdNotes. Somewhere along the line Norm moved it to a blog (ergo Ednotesonline). 

This highly paid Unity-Loyalist UFT staff member attacked that guy.  

Read the report. Seemed a little childish. Just tell the story. Keep the snide comments to yourself. You don’t hear anyone coming up with nicknames for Norm Scott after he crossed the picket line in 1968.‬

‪Oh, y’all didn’t know?? Norm Scott crossed the picket line in 1968.‬


and again

You were on the picket line in ‘68…until you crossed it.

No need to explain. We already know.

And again to his 368 Twitter followers under the Pseudonym "New York's Finest" 

I didn't realize a union rep could be a police officer. I, myself am a NYC teacher. Our nickname, "New York's Smartest", is a bit different from the NYPD "NY's Finest", but that's none of my business and, besides, I digress. 

Now I admit, Don Normleone does have a penchant for getting under people's skin. Over the years, he has developed this little knack of his into a bonafide skillset and he has become famous for being a loving critique of the UFT. And those who run the union sometimes like and also sometimes hate the Don. But Norm Scott is as much a part of that union hall has the bricks that were used to build it. And he is loyal to collective action as the day is long. 

So when another UFT employee accused Norm -the guy who used to write, edit and publish a free newspaper just for UFT members and hand them out- of being anti-union, I thought it was a joke.

It wasn't and that sucks. I'd rather be watching TV than writing this post but, the truth is, it wasn't a joke (and that sucks). 

Norm's response, though, didn't quite cut the mustard for me either:

I’d bet anything that I’ve written about 1968 numerous times and argued why even if I was woke in 68 I wouldn’t have crossed a uft picket line if I had any intention of organizing in the union. 

He makes a good point. Why cross a picket line and then spend the next 40 years organizing? But even that is a bit too defensive and quite completely misses the point. For me, the only responses that would have been worth noting would be these: 

1. Norm Scott never crossed a picket line and anyone who thinks he did must be an idiot either by trade or an idiot by travel (you know, like an otherwise nice smart person simply deciding to visit idiotville for a few hours. We all do that from time to time). The 1968 strike that man participated in paved the way for Mr. Hughes to have a union in the first place and one that could hire him to a rep job in the second place. I think Mr. Hughes should thank Mr. Scott for his service in building the house he lives in. 

2. Stop it. Just stop it. While the playbook (of saying anyone who is a critic is anti-union) is old, the essence here is that a union employee, responsible for executing and helping to shape union policies, should not be verbally attacking a person who is critical of those policies. Just stop it, please. I would like to stop thinking about my union for a while. 

Going to leave you with Google's definition of verbal abuse and sign off for the holiday. 

Verbal abuse is a type of psychological/mental abuse that involves the use of oral language, gestured language, and written language directed to a victim

Saturday, November 20, 2021

But Why Are Paid Employees Trying To End Debate

I don't very much like writing about union matters. On the one hand, I'm too busy and too occupied with teaching. The students seem to need us (teachers) to do what we do more than in other years. Andso much of my work time has been occupied with that, so I have no time to do so.

On the other hand, unions are set up to work kind of like a car insurance policy and who wants to write about that? In each case, you pay each month and, in exchange, it's supposed to be there for you when you need. Unions aren't always there for you, but they are supposed to be be and, heck, we all pay every month (or payday). This is why I often find myself comparing my union to a car insurance policy. 

Would you enjoy writing about car insurance companies in your spare time? I think not. Speaking only for myself here, I don't much like writing about union issues in my spare time either. 

But every so often, I come across a 🍩 so big and so ridiculously stupid, that I must literally do my best to try to tell the tale as best as I can. 

And our doenut begins with my car insurance policy metaphor. You see, you may hope and trust that your car insurance company will be there for you when you need but, after paying good money each and every month, many folks like to go double check. I search "State Farm" on Google News at least a few times a year -just to make sure my car insurance company isn't screwing around or in some kind of trouble. 

In this same manner, a mentally fit person might check in on his or her union a few times a year. Maybe they will read the union newspaper. Maybe they'll join a Facebook group. Or maybe they will read up (via the internet of course) on some of the latest union functions and debates that have been taking place. This is what healthy people do, anyway. And they do it, I suspect, a few times each year, just to be sure that their union dues aren't being wasted. 

That money was hard earned. It was earned by a New York City school teacher. That school teacher is doing the very best he or she can, working under a Byzantine system that cares about his or her kind (teachers) less than absolutely nothing else on Earth. No one hates classroom teachers more than the collective group of people who run the NYC Department of Education, period. And that classroom teacher had to work his or her craft through that culture just to earn the money that he or she used to pay that union its monthly dues. That money was hard earned. 

And, because of this, healthy people check in on the union from time to time. 

If anyone were to check in on the union during its monthly "Delegate Assembly" meeting this week, he or she might feel as though she or he were wasting that money. Here is part of a live blog from the union's last meeting:

A Delegate on the phone says lower class sizes are important contractually or through other means.

A Delegate calls the question on all matters before the house.

Point of Order: This is an important issue asking if the person who spoke previously was on the union payroll. Delegate responds that he is elected and insulted that someone asked this.

A closer look into what the heck happened revels this:

Then, it starts to get crazy when DR William Woodruff calls the question to get a vote on ending the debate. Independent Delegate Daniel Alicea [(here)] shouts for a point of order on whether the person calling for the end of debate on this fundamental issue is on the UFT payroll. Woodruff is on the payroll and makes close to $200,000 per annum as a District Rep so it is a valid question if he represents his employer (the UFT) or the members in the school where he works one period a day. 

I'm not going to concern myself with the exchange itself. I heard it was a tough moment for both people involved. They are both grown adults and can resolve their situations themselves. But if this happened at State Farm during one of those times I went to check in on my car insurance company, I'd switch insurance companies. 

The fact seems to be clear: One volunteer delegate asked another highly paid delegate a public question about whether or not that highly paid delegate was, in fact, highly paid, and at the very moment that the highly paid delegate was trying to end a debate. 

As highlighted above, this was and is a valid question. 

For months now, there has been a growing concern that UFT  employees have been overstepping the authority (of "union rep") that has been given to them by school teachers.

Many of the people who guide the discussions in the UFT are, in fact, paid by the union as employees. Until recently, this has gone unnoticed. But many people (folks who are a bit more active in the UFT) have observed that these highly paid employees are spending an increasing amount of time policing the social media groups and in the comment sections (and in-person) arguing with teachers using combative tone and words. In some cases the concerns are around whether a school teacher was being verbally attacked by the highly paid reps of their union. These are serious concerns. 

I'd like to attest here that many of the more regular folks have found these paid employees becoming more and more confrontational in these spaces. In the past, I have witnessed them accusing people of "being dangerous" because they shared information when it was asked or because they shared a poor opinion of the union in a public space. The ones who are publicly critical of the union have been accused of being "anti union" or of "having problems" just because they choose to spend their free time criticizing the people who run the union. To be clear, these are sometimes very confrontational exchanges -and they are always being initiated by the paid foot soldiers of the teacher union. 

This pattern of behavior has lead to a growing chorus of concern over whether the teacher union's own union officials are just defending their 'team' or whether or not they are participating in an unfair labor practice by routinely confronting anyone who dares to disagree with the union's policies or decisions.

 When James Eterno calls this a "valid question" he is, unfortunately, correct. It is a very valid question. And it is unfortunate that a question like this is valid. 

And that leads me back to the question I posed in my title: Why are paid employees trying to end debate during the union's Delegate Assembly? If there is a good answer, then the union should communicate it. The group who runs the union must have had at least 200 "Unity Loyalists" in the room with them on this night (these are folks who are NOT paid by the union but who are loyal to the union's ruling caucus). Why not just have one of these unpaid loyalists make a motion to end the debate? Embers, when blown, do catch fire, you know. And this hub bub seems to have been easily avoided. 

The union could have also played nice. I understand that the whole argument was over a 12 word amendment to one their resolutions (with the resolution being written by the ruling caucus and the amendment being added by one of the non ruling caucuses). It was not, as I understand it, a harmful amendment nor was it an amendment that would have forced the union to change one damn thing. Why not just shrug and say "sure. We'll add it"?

I like my union much more than I like my car insurance company. So I won't be switching or pulling my dues anytime soon. But the time has come to allow these highly trained, highly paid union officials to use their skills to stay behind the scenes. We trust our union employees. We trust them plenty.  But these actions are becoming an apparent misuse of influence, power and authority by paid union employees. toward non paid union members. 

The Unity caucus has tons of talented teachers who are not being paid to defend the union. Allowing them the opportunity to do things like argue with school teachers on social media and move to end a debate in the union assembly would avoid this disaster of optics and would steer the union, as I know it deserves, away from valid questions about honesty. 

The Unity Caucus is filled to the brim with honest people. They need to be seen being honest and acting with fidelity and with integrity. The volunteers of that caucus need to be getting to a mic and asking for debate to end. The employees need to be working on other things. Like helping members, not arguing with them. Like listening to them, not yelling at them. Like not trying to shame them by implying that they are insulting when they are, in fact, only using strategic opportunities to ask extremely important and existential questions. 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Satoshi Nakadoenuts

You may not realize it now, but the Bitcoin Whitepaper is as groundbreaking to human development as Gutenburg's Bible or Homer's Iliad. Trust me here: It is that historic. 

This one nine-page document, published way back in 2008, has led to the growth of an entirely new financial system of transactions and investment. Soon, it will change the way we understand property, property transfer and wealth storage.  Trust me here: The Bitcoin Whitepaper is that historic.

By "new financial system", I mean, of course, decentralized. And by "decentralized", I mean power to the people. 

Since the release of the Whitepaper and the growth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a great many average regular everyday people have become wealthy just by investing a part of their income in Bitcoin. While this new sector is fraught with danger (including fraudsters and risks galore), CBS News recently reported  that as many as 100,000 people may have become millionaires by investing in Bitcoin and its related cryptocurrencies. 100,000 new millionaires. 

Cryptocurrency investor Raoul Pal is a popular voice in this space. He has described this power to the people phenomenon in this way  

"...what this really is is real time venture capitalism for the everyday person. The everyday person has been shut out of the big opportunities because you have to need to go through a financial institution and there's barrier after barrier after barrier so only the rich people get access...."

Now I'm not recommending you run out and open up a Coinbase or Gemini account.  If you are thinking about that because of something you have read here, please stop and understand that the entire sector is literally the Wild Wild West and is terribly terribly dangerous and risky. 

But don't forget that an entire generation has had to sit by and watch as opportunities went to rich, connected people and powerful organizations. Within that context, the presence of a mere possibility for an regular person to enjoy these types of financial gains (just like the big banks and real venture capitalists) has, in fact, captured the hopes and imagination of millions of Americans (and roughly 150 million people world-wide to date). 

This simple fact -that Bitcoin has captured the imaginations of millions- is beyond dispute for any reasonable person. The hopes and imaginations of millions of Americans have, in fact, been captured by this aspect of the new economy. 

And those people vote. 💡

This is why I found it interesting when a popular showboat mayor from Miami started his city's very own crypto currency, the Miami Coin. Billed as a way to raise revenue for his city, the Miami Coin has already achieved something far more powerful -for the Mayor of that city

Francis Suarez, you see, is an American politician by trade. That's his profession. The success or failure of his entire career depends upon capturing the hopes and imaginations of his voters and then capitalizing on both. This is what Miami Coin has truly accomplished.

Now let's be clear,  Miami Coin has raised only  $7.1 million for that city's budget. This is not (repeat not) a 'King's Ransom' level of money. But the political capital that has come from aligning himself with the hopes and imaginations of regular folks is indeed a King's move, one which paid large political dividends for mayor Suarez last week when he won his reelection bid by a landslide.

The last generation of American politicians aligned themselves with the anger and frustrations of voters. Bill del Blasio tapped into those frustrations with his 'Tale of Two Cities" campaign. Andrew Cuomo tapped into them by promising to be the tough guy; the one person who could beat all of the people who made voters frustrated and angry in the first place. This new generation of American politicians are shaping up to be leaders who have figured out how to align themselves with the hopes and dreams of voters. And one of them just won by a landslide. 

So it should be no surprise to note that our new mayor-elect has recently announced that he will be taking his first three paychecks in Bitcoin, not US dollars. 

There actually is no way for a city employee to be paid in Crypto (mayor or otherwise). Mayor Adams will have to open up a Coinbase or Gemini account, or go to PayPal, just like everyone else. But Eric Adams is also an American politician by profession so that one small logistical reality was probably part of the messaging his team wanted to send out. That messaging surely includes a premise that sounds something like this: "You see? I'm just like you. I have the same challenges as you".  

Just one week after his election, our soon-to-be mayor has already aligned himself with the hopes and dreams of regular people -just like 'the guy from Miami who won by a landslide'.  

This shouldn't be overlooked.  As he gets ready to begin his first term, it is becoming more and more clear to anyone paying attention that our next mayor has taken on a populist's persona. 

And this is why, when Eric Adams says ... 

"NYC is going to be the center of the cryptocurrency industry and other fast-growing, innovative industries!" Adams said Thursday...

...the message he really sending out is, "I'm down with what YOU want, regular voter. Think about what YOU want, and I'll be down with that". 

This should be overlooked either. Not for one moment.

(Bitcoin to the moon 😍!)

And this is why it is so important to quickly parse Adams' words about the DOE last week when he was on Pix11 News:

Wow! Just wow! That quote could have (and probably has) been muttered by every frustrated parent in the city at one time or another.

By issuing this public statement, and indicating that the DOE will fall under scrutiny, Adams is (again) aligning his actions with public sentiment. All of this has the same goal, of course: Capturing the imagination and hopes of regular everyday New Yorkers so that he remains popular. 

A closer look at the quote will probably show you that what is at play here is a very a very simple concept. The mayor understands that parents generally like their child's classroom teacher ("Great teachers..") and are generally happy with their child's local school ("great educators ...") but that the department of education itself, with its many unpopular personalities, initiatives and policies, has come to be widely disliked by regular New York City voters. ("One of the greatest embarrassments ..." sends a pretty clear message, in my opinion). 

This was, again, a smart political move from a talented, populist oriented politician who is trying to closely position himself with the hopes and imaginations of his voters. Look for the policies that flow from this statement to be only those that are popular. Not unpopular but needed. Not visionary. Not groundbreaking. Popular among his voters. 

So here is my summary on Eric Adams; he is going to try to do things that, generally, people like and that's all there is to it. If he is good, then he is going to avoid doing things that are contentious and that's all there is to it too. This approach will have wide reaching consequences for teachers over the next 4 years. 

So, my predictions:

  • Don't look for the new mayor to give every city teacher a small budget on ShopDOE to order their own school supplies. He's not looking for that type of popularity. Instead, look for a reasonable expansion of charter schools. Parent voters like that. 
  • Don't look for a teacher raise anytime soon. Most parents understand that teachers make more money than they do and this city is about to be in dire financial straits. Instead, look for a greater emphasis on Students With Disabilities or on class trips or on anything that is generally popular.
  • Don't look for a mayor to stop your overly abusive principal. I'm sorry. This is just not going to happen. As a captain in charge of his own precinct, Adams' was the NYPD version of a principal himself. Instead, look for him to be cut from the 'support principals' cloth. 
  • Do look for the mayor to stay within the realm of what is popular. He may go after the union, but he will avoid going after teachers in general. 
  • Finally, Mr. Adams is about to learn that the Department of Education is New York City's version of the Military Industrial Complex. So don't look for too much change from Tweed. To the bureaucrats down at Tweed, this soon-to-be mayor is just the "hired help" who will be gone in four or eight years. Carmine Farina didn't get rid of them. Richard Carranza didn't get rid of them. Meisha Porter (who had already targeted by them  with this NYPost hit piece before she even took the job) won't get rid of them.  I don't think the new mayor will be able to do much about them either. 
  • Do look for this to be a show. Like mayor Suarez from Miami, Eric Adams is a showman who wants to make voters happy. So whatever happens, it's going to be interesting. 

Part of the mystique around Bitcoin is that its true inventor is unknown. The whitepaper that lead to Bitcoin's creation and development was published under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto and nobody has ever known for sure who Satoshi Nakamoto really was. To add to this mystique, this person simply vanished shortly after the whitepaper was published. Don't look for our next mayor to be mysterious this way, though.  But, just as there is an air of mystique around Bitcoin, do look for Eric Adams to align himself with as much mystique as is out here. He wants to be loved. He wants to be popular. And that knowledge should give the people who he leads a lot of power.

Power to the people. Ain't that democracy. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

🍩Here's Why the SEL Survey Won't Help Kids 🍩

Last Summer, when the teacher union mentioned to its members that there was an SEL survey on the way, I thought "great. It's about the DOE cares about kids"

My school used to administer an SEL survey to every single student. It took students twenty-five minutes on a laptop to complete. We received all sorts of useful data because of it. This included bits of data about how they felt during a typical day, what their confidence level was and whether or not they may have been suffering from extra stress at home.  The answers were sent to an Excel file and used by people throughout the building (I built several programs around the data that grew from it).  It was cool. It was très cool.  It was simple, quick and it helped school officials help children. I loved it. 

I don't use that word -survey- lightly, by the way.  In fact, I use it in as accurate a manner as I possibly can. Color me silly but, when most of your readers are experienced school teachers, the use of good grammar and accurate wording are particularly important. Google defines the word survey this way

 "...investigate the opinions or experience of (a group of people) by asking them questions". 

The process seems to be simple. You ask some questions. You record their answers. Later on, you look at those answers and do some cool stuff with it. Here is how the accurate definition of the word "survey" looks when you gaze upon it on the dictionary. 

Survey - investigate the opinions or experience of (a group of people) by asking them questions. 

Looks nice, doesn't it? 

This is why I was surprised to learn this past week that the UFT president told members that he was complaining about the SEL survey. "Why", I thought "would anyone want to complain about a survey process that could help kids?".  I was disappointed. (In fact, I was très disappointed). 

Yesterday, my chapter leader let the members know that Monday will be the SEL survey day. On this day, teachers (not students) will be answering questions (forty-three of them, in fact) related to the emotional well being of each identified student they teach. 

Apparently, the DOE and the UFT (with whom the DOE closely works in daily partnership) does not believe that students can take their own SEL survey or answer their own SEL questions. Their teachers must answer them instead. 

And they are calling this process a "survey".


This is untrue, of course. This is not a survey at all. The DOE and UFT are, apparently, not big dictionary fans.  Both sides should know full well that what they are planning to implement is not a survey. Yet neither side really does. The fake competence from the DOE planners and the fake anger from the UFT union officials obfuscate a sheer linguistic reality -that they were never planning to survey students at all. They have no intention of hearing from the children they serve. They just want to be able to say to the public "we have heard from the children we serve". 

And the public is damn well misinformed enough to believe them.

But this isn't a new tool, either.  A different profession -the Mental Health profession- uses a similar tool for every new patient they meet. The tool is called a psychosocial assessment. It is an important part of the intake process for every patient who first enters treatment of any kind or sort. Psychosocial assessments, (or 'psychosocials', as they are called by people in the profession) utilize the professionals' expertise and addresses several detailed areas of the patient's life in order to gain a full picture of that person's needs.  And, while they do help paint a clear mental health picture for the professionals who serve the new patient, these assessments are performed only by a trained, licensed  professional (you know, people who know what they are doing).  They require oodles of time to complete and specific training is needed to ensure that they are performed in the right manner. Almost every mid-sized to large clinical environment has at least one or two professionals whose sole job is to perform these psychosocials every single day. And those professionals are heavily surprised as they perform their task. 

What we are being asked to perform is closer to a psychosocial assessment (a tool used by trained licensed mental health professionals) than it is a survey.  Our supervisors' supervisors have been, for one reason or another, a bit less than honest with the public in identifying this as an "SEL survey". The teacher union is pretending to be upset because we (who are licensed only to be school teachers) are being asked to answer more questions than they would like us to answer (43 questions for each student instead of just 5). 

(The latter group may have a point. I teach high school. For me, there are 34 identified students. I will have to answer 43 questions for each of them.  That means I'll be answering 1,462 questions (all related to a job that I have not been hired to do, am not trained for, possess no expertise for and am not licensed to do). I think the union is angry only that this number isn't 170. Other than that, they couldn't care much less. (So, no. The latter group doesn't really have a point at all.)

But that reality ignores the very important point that together,  the DOE and the UFT  do not believe that students can take their own SEL survey or answer their own SEL questions, and they do not believe that the thousands of actual mental health professionals who are employed by this city can perform their professional duties themselves (my own school's social worker may well be on dismissal duties while we are answering these questions. My school psychologist might be working on special education matters).  

In my school, teachers will be receiving no meaningful training for this. Our counselors are receiving training and will, no doubt, turnkey it (in what we hope will be a very nice email with a link (maybe a cool video) because we are too busy trying to keep up with our own duties (many of which the folks downtown thrust/allowed to be thrust upon us in the past) as we try to have an hour or so with our own families before bed.  The teachers, then, will be answering these questions.

And they are calling it an SEL survey.  

Now the DOE could have issued an actual SEL survey to students. The UFT could have ensured that this was done in a meaningful and professional manner. But both of these organizations are on the wane and are presently in an inchoate state of rapid decline.So none of those failsafes (professionalism or fidelity toward the mission of the organization) seemed, in this particular case, to have worked. As a consequence, the teachers, you see, will be answering these mental health questions about the social-emotional needs of our students. We won't know what the hell we'll be doing, mind you. But I assure you here and now, we'll be doing it. 

So ...

Dear parents, please hear my prediction: Come SEL survey day at your child's school, teachers there, and all across this great big city of ours, will be staring at a clock during their "PD time" (after a long hard day of work) and will fill out whichever answers to whatever bologna questions are being asked of them that can get them in their cars and home to their families as fast as they possibly can. 

Many will be doing this 1,462 times.

 Please do not think we don't care. We very much  do. That's why we signed on to help your child learn how to read and how to write and how to love learning. That is our end of the bargain and we don't know jack about this other stuff here. We'll do out best, but we'll also be quick about it. 

And, yes, the resulting data will be unreliable and unusable in any meaningful way. But, I'll always be honest with you in this space; I think I could get that crap done in 16 1/2 minutes if I wanted. And I never would. But, know, that every other teacher will think much the same thing. 

And this is because you simply cannot depend upon the fidelity of teachers after giving them a nonsensical and unrealistic task to perform. We are as honest as the day is long and we are as faithful to your children as an old lady in church on a Sunday. But it is an educational law of physics that, when only garbage goes into a teacher's box, it is only garbage that can come out. Because of this, we will answer ... as best as we can. We think we can be done before the school day ends. 

And please know that, if the DOE (who is supposed to work with teachers every day) and the UFT (who is literally made up of former teachers) could not have figured this out as they planned and communicated with you, then I don't feel you should blame a teacher. If you worked for and around these people, you'd act just like us too.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Many of our students will soon be homeless. It will exclusively be Andrew Cuomo's Fault.

They both lead poorer states and are both newer to the job but a Republican governor from Texas and a conservative governor from Virginia are more committed to helping poor and working class families remain in their homes than is the governor from the state of New York. 

You should allow a quick moment for that to sink in.

Last April, Congress established a $46 Billion fund intended to help provide rent relief for the nation's renters and landlords. The monies were divided among all 50 states with the expectation that they would be distributed to the people who needed the assistance. 

So far, Virginia and Texas have distributed a combined $600 million of these funds (here). New York, which received $2.4 billion for distribution to its renters and landlords,  has distributed less than $100,000 (here).

The remaining $2.3 million -of real money intended to help real people- has yet to be touched.  Since April, as many as 160,000 New Yorkers have applied for this aid. The State of New York, lead by King Andrew Cuomo himself, has approved only 4,800 of those applications (here). 

According to Saturday's New York Times  this man's screw ups are about to disrupt the lives of as many as 1/2 of my students next month:

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions is set to expire on Saturday after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter ... Running out of time and desperate to head off a possible wave of evictions, the White House abruptly shifted course on Thursday, throwing responsibility to Congress and prompting a frenzied — and ultimately unsuccessful — rescue operation by Democrats in the House on Friday.

With no rental assistance from Albany and no moratorium in place, many students in NYC will be affected by this particular failure -and those effects will be harsh. Their lives will be turned upside down. Their addresses will change. Some will find their way to homeless shelters and all will be in a NYC database for alternative housing. The underpinnings of everything a child understands about stability will be rattled. And why? Because those funds never made it to where they were supposed to go. 

That was the governor's job. That was only the governor's job (no one else could do it) and it was the governor's only job (they literally gave him $2.4 billion and said "here. Go hep your people). And he failed. 

As many as eleven million Americans are facing potential evictions -soon. This all stems from the economic downturn that resulted from the pandemic, of course. But, if you say this outloud to yourself: eleven million human beings- you may realize that is a very large potential catastrophe. And, while some states (including Cuomo's New York) have extended their own state-wide moratoriums, the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that any future prohibition against evictions will be a matter for the US Congress to pick up (here). In American, all law (that's all law. Not just the law that you like) operates under a section of the Constitution referred to as the 'Contract Clause'. Essentially, the clause prevents states from enacting laws that violate the US Constitution. And when there is no law on the books, and Congress has not yet acted (as is the case here), then a state has little power to change it. (Feel free to read all about Gibbons v. Ogden until your hearts' content).  The easy truth is this: Sooner or later, some landlord -one who hasn't been paid in well over a year- is going to sue NY's special moratorium extension and that person is going to win. 

This makes the distribution of the relief funds that I mentioned earlier absolutely crucial -both for landlords (who would stand to receive the relief) and for renters (who would otherwise be "in good standing" with their landlord when the moment of the moratoriums ending finally does come). There are only two possible scenarios once the moratoriums end: With the distribution of funds, the renters and landlords will have a space to talk about a new lease. 

But without the distribution of funds, the landlord will be free to evict and find new tenants. And please try not to forget that they will also be free to harass, or turn off the water or fail to repair or to engage in any of the normal tactics that a landlord is known to use when he or she wants a tenant to leave. That is what an end to the moratorium will actually mean to actual people who have not actually received rental assistance. 

Here in New York City, most of the middle class and well-to-do students huddle together in their own special communities of schools which have been created just for them. Thankfully, these children don't feel too much of the whiplash that life in NYC can offer. The end result will be that much of their lives won't be effected at all when September comes. These are the types of schools that the newspapers like to visit. So, if you read the news, you may be led into believing that everything is fine. 

Other children, however, tend to be exposed to all of the life's little 'subtle demonisms' (apologies for the Melville reference). This may include known issues like illegal guns, violence, food or home insecurity. But it also includes some lesser understood experiences; ones which tend to cause tons and tons of trauma but are hardly discussed. Experiences like looking forward to having last night's rice and beans for breakfast (because it's nice to have a meal! Isn't it?), or having to go to the corner store to bring home empty boxes because your family is getting ready for a move (only they have no answers as to where) or having to face your peers in school wearing some pretty weather-beaten and very used clothes. All of these issues cause a special type of trauma. Sometimes that type of trauma is written about. Sometimes it is not. 

Only a classroom teacher has been cursed to simultaneously understand and experience this trauma as it unfolds in real time. Children do not always understand what they are experiencing. And the front office will never have to actually contend with the minute-by-minute fallout from it. Only we in the classroom have been blessed to both experience the fallout from this trauma on a day-to-day basis and to understand the full scope of just what the hell is happening to our students. Only us. We have to deal with this mess and live with it every single day as we work with these children in their capacity of being a student. 

And lets' say you're not like me (and as I've written in the past, that's okay too. Be here for the paycheck. Just be a pro). In that case, you should know that your work life is about to get a lot more challenging and difficult. Do you know what it's like to teach 30 children when 15 of them have moved into a shelter setting or out of the city district and had to travel two hours to reach your do now? Imagine having to actually teach Herman Melville to 30 children when 15 of them are not sure where they will sleep that night. Or eat. Or wear new clothes. Or think about their dreams. Or even get some damn peace and quiet.  Don't forget, now; the middle class and well-to-do are already huddled together in their own sheltered bubbles over at their own sheltered schools so this will feel amplified. That number -half- is NOT an over exaggeration. Whole schools of children will completely miss this trauma. But whole schools of children will be bombarded by it.  

This one incompetent blunder will upend the lives of tens of thousands of families in the city (and beyond, of course). And why? Because, despite having received billions of dollars in his pocket to help these children remain in their homes, Andrew Cuomo did not.

Now Cuomo has announced that he is overhauling the system so people can get the help they need. Don't forget, it's his own system (the one which he was responsible for in the first place). I don't suppose being attacked by Chuck Schumer is much fun. I do suppose he got embarrassed in the newspaper last week and is trying to look good for the papers. But it will be the same screw up governor. And it will not be fixed. 

But Cuomo has already had three full months to start approving applications and writing checks to provide stability for needy families. 

And the national moratorium will end in less than four weeks. in NYC, evictions will take six months. But forced moves, where tenants are pressured to leave, will begin right away. Rest assured, you, and your students, will feel the fallout before September ends.