Friday, August 12, 2022

A Manufactured Crisis

Still working on poor Dolores' story. I'll drop Part 2 soon. 

Pay careful attention. This is how a manufactured crisis is developed. This isn't how you manufacture a crisis per se (that's because the folks who are trying to manufacture this particular crisis are clumsy and clueless. They underestimated the strength of community and parent and teacher groups and, frankly, they didn't do their fiscal or demographic homework before they tried to run this play from the ol' Edreform playbook). But you and I are getting a very good look behind the curtain in real time about how to create one. This is the work of edreformers. They are running the same (boring) play as they did back in 2007-2013. It may be hard to see because the play is still in its infancy but this is how they do it. This is how they get their new charters and no bid contracts for their favorite private sector buddies and cuts to protections for educators of all backgrounds.  This is how it begins. They manufacture a crisis inside of the schools. Only "private sector" ingenuity and "workforce efficiency" will be able to save us. In the meantime, parents see the results from all the manufactured and determine to move their children to private or charter schools. 

The first major step in manufacturing a crisis is to create chaos. That's really what this struggle over budget cuts are all about; they're about creating chaos inside of 1600 NYC schools next month. And that chaos will be created. The important thing for them to do now is to confuse everybody as much as possible until the chaos is felt next Fall. 

Last week, parents and teacher won a huge victory from the NYCDOE by convincing a court to force the City of New York to restore those cuts. That immediately led me to conclude that the case would be appealed. In fact my exact thought was that 'The case is sure to be appealed and may well be overturned so this isn't over. In fact, it's not even a little over.' And by "this", I mean the basic "can we pay for some teachers?". That challenge is not even a little "over".

The other night, the appeal to that case was accepted and, by law, the decision was automatically stayed. until the full case can be considered. A stayed decision means that the cuts go back into effect until both sides can go to court. That won't happen until eight days before school starts. The Open Market transfer system will be closed by that time and the schools won't be able to fund the staff.  The Times described the effects from this it best:

The fighting has set the stage for a chaotic start to a school year ... The 2022-2023 school year was supposed to be focused on recouping [student learning] losses after the pace of learning slowed during the pandemic ... Instead, principals say the cuts are forcing them to slash teaching positions and enrichment programs they need to help students recover.

Chaos. That's really what this is all about. It's about creating chaos.

Imagine a school that has to cut two teacher and two counselor positions. Now imagine that the lawsuit is won on or after August 29. Sure, the money may be returned, but those teachers and counselors who had to be excessed will already be gone. And that school will have some folks who don't understand it or its children in those positions instead. See? Chaos. Now imagine that the lawsuit is not won. With no money returned for staff, a large amount of schools are forced schools excess their staff, the district's reserve (ATR) pool swells to significant proportions, Tweed places those same educators as one-year ATRs in "schools where they are needed".  The whole thing becomes a fancy way of creating forced transfers -with no rhyme, no rhythm and no leadership involved. All parents will see is something like "sub" listed on their child's schedule -and they will see that "sub" for three or four whole weeks until a teacher's name finally appears. When that name comes and they call to ask the school about it, the school will have little information to share (because they didn't pick that teacher either).  The parent looks around for a different school. 

At this point in the process,  it doesn't matter whether the cuts are restored or not. Chaos will visit many many schools next Fall regardless of the outcome. That was the whole goal in the first place.  

The public at large won't be aware of all of this flim flam during the summer months.  As the public watches their school cancel clubs or those amazing after school events that attracted so many people, they will conclude that the system, like so many other systems in this city, must be broken. They will see no money going to their child and the Edreformers will use sophisticated contrivances to communicate to them that it is all because they have to spend that money on the ATR pool of teachers.  That's all they will say. 

Adams is banking on the political winds turning more in his favor next Fall. He is not too far off from the truth. If this city continues to be depicted as burning for the next four months, he will have all the support he needs. The Taliban spent more than a decade making Afghanistan unsafe and, when they came to power, they made the streets safe. (NPR). Once those winds have turned, Adams (and Banks) will make the case that the DOE is hopeless and needs "help". 

They will, of course, have a solution. You may laugh now here in August, but the sad truth is that solution will be more drastic cuts and fewer available services for children (some to be replaced by private entities) -oh, and a vilification of seniority for teachers (because of this blasted fairness thing with the ATR pool). That solution will include putting more pressure on the classroom teacher and forcing some teachers out. They are working to achieve a bonafide crisis. We will suddenly hear about how great the bulletin boards are over at Success Academy or how they all keep detailed reading logs over at New Visions and that we should all do what they do over at New Visions and Success Academy. Fewer work and seniority protections in the contract, you see. 

They want fewer work and seniority protections in the contract because they don't want the UFT to have that kind of influence. 

In addition to that, they want more money to dole out to their private contractor friends with no bid contracts. Do you remember ARIS? It cost $81 million. It failed. In fact, it never worked. It was built by a private contractor. Are you old enough to remember HSST? That system was purchased from a vendor. We now use something called STARS for student data, report cards, scheduling and data gathering. They were for free because they were done by the next administration in-house. They didn't cost close to one hundred million dollars. 

They also want more charter schools. The chaos they are creating will turn so many parents off that demand for charter schools to go through the roof! And that will force the politicians over in Albany to raise the cap and create more charters (which will further destabilize the system (which is exactly what their strategic goal is). 

Both of these are examples of the movement toward privatization which they love so much. Like the USPS, they want schools to be more private. 

The response regarding the Stay from Class Size Matters is important to note here:

This will further delay the “chaos” that the City repeatedly cited in its brief, and prevent principals, teachers, and parents from knowing what their school budgets will look like until the appeal is heard on August 29, 2022. In the meantime, we urge the City Council and the Mayor to negotiate and implement a budget modification to immediately restore these damaging cuts because our public school children deserve a safe and productive return to school in the fall, which our Mayor appears bent on denying.

Chaos. Many seem to agree we are walking into chaos next year. It won't be felt until just after school starts. This is because the final basic budgetary allocation won't be known to schools until well after Labor Day. But chaos is what we are in store for. And that's all part of the plan.

Tomorrow, I want to compare this with the manufactured crisis in the US Post Office and point out some similarities. 

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