Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chapter 40: Real Time Closure

Chap. 40:  Unreformed

     [JLHS is slated to be "phased out" by the DOE beginning in Sept. 2013.  Since I've been blogging about issues in education since Nov. of 2011, I'll chronicle this event.]

     Today is Wed., Feb. 6, 2013.  If you've read earlier chapters of this blog / memoir, you're aware that I am a teacher at the Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications (09x414) and that I am currently "at war" with my administration.  I've made no secret of this.  Now I have to admit that not only are we one of Bloomberg's reform schools, we are a reform school on the chopping block and this is how it has gone over the past 2 years or so.
     In spite of the fact that no teacher / colleague that I know of had anything like a 90% attendance rate during the first 10 years of the existence of the JLHS reform school, that is the attendance number that was accepted by the DOE as our official rate.  My own personal attendance rate in various 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade classes - yes, I've taught them all over the past 9 years - was something more on the order of 70% and I'm not alone in this.  It was always a mystery to us how our administration was able to convince the DOE that our attendance rate from 2003 through 2011 was above 90%.  That was never evident in any of our classrooms.
      But that inflated attendance rate was a critical part of our "quality review" between 2007 and 2010 when Bloomberg pushed through his grading system on his reform schools.  As outlined in various chapter of this blog / memoir, there are many ways to inflate damned statistics.  This is, in fact, the real reason that the "education reform" movement is dead set on making these misleading statistics part of the teacher evaluation system, something that Michael Mulgrew and the UFT have so far resisted.  The union had better not cave on this issue.
     We at JLHS heard from our superintendent Staple that we were slated to be "phased out" beginning in Sept. 2013.  We heard his news on Mon., Jan. 7, 2013.  As far as we teachers were concerned, this was an "emergency faculty meeting" but it wasn't such an emergency meeting for the superintendent, who was sitting there watching it all when I walked into the meeting at about 11:15 a.m.  Actually it was a guy named Dennis, who may be working for the DOE or may be working for someone else - it was impossible to tell what this guy was up to since he didn't seem to be selling used cars - but actually it wasn't our superintendent Staple who gave us the bad news.  It was this guy Dennis who must have volunteered for the job since the rest of our CUNY support system just sat there and said nothing.  Yes, we have a CUNY support staff who must be getting paid but who did nothing for us as our graduation rate plummeted either because the cohorts we got were in no position to graduate or because our administration had pulled all the statistical rabbits out of its hat that they had in there.   The mirage of CUNY support evaporated as soon as we reached for it.