Chapter Sixty-Two: An Immodest Proposal
Jonathan Levin High School Assistant Principal of Supervision, Erica Clarke, yesterday morning gave the graduating class of 2013 a surprising piece of advice. "Be yourself," she told them. There was nothing unusal about that, of course. It was when she told them to be themselves by getting plastic surgery to alter their appearances that the "be yourself" bromide took an odd turn.
The ceremony took place at the Lovinger Theater, Lehman College yesterday, June 25, 2013. Ms. Clarke was not a scheduled speaker but was called into action when a local politician, the keynote speaker, failed to arrive. It was then that the A.P. of Supervision doffed her cap and gown in order to exhibit what she called her "new body".
Note #1: One might consider what follows to be private information. I would counter that it was Ms. Clarke herself who brought up the subject in front of a graduating class of seniors, faculty, administrators, stage managers and about 200 friends and family of the graduates.
Background: Ms. Clarke disappeared from the school from late January 2013 until March 10, 2011, a period of about 6 weeks. Nothing was said officially about her whereabouts other than that she was undergoing a "medical procedure". School officials were mute. No collection was made as had always been the case in the past for members of the staff who were on medical leave. There was no suggestion that anyone ought to make sympathy calls.
It was during this very time that the school was entering its death throes. There was a town hall meeting scheduled for Feb. 17, 2013. This was to be one of those last ditch attempts by schools threatened with the axe to save themselves by garnering community support and displaying it in front of cold-hearted DOE officials like Marc Sternberg, the Deputy Chancellor in Charge of School Closings, the guy who had a happy hour when a court decision allowed the DOE to go ahead with their school closing reform. Photos and video of this happy event can be seen at many sites including this one, chosen more or less randomly by googling "Marc Sternberg happy hour": DOE celebrates school closings
Ms. Clarke was nowhere to be seen. As teachers, students and even some administrators spent weeks preparing for this event, the A.P. of Supervision was nowhere to be seen.
Perhaps it was fitting that Ms. Clarke reappeared on March 10, 2013, appearing to have lost 50 - 75 pounds during her sabbatical - fitting, I say, not because of the new wardrobe she was at lengths to make sure got noticed but because it was the very next day, March 11, that the PEP voted to phase the school out. Again Ms. Clarke was nowhere to be seen. Given her self-centered and self-serving behavior at graduation yesterday, perhaps she was too busy standing in front of a mirror to pay attention to the closing of her own school.
So the nugget of wisdom offered to yesterday's graduating class by this "educator" was this: be yourself by surgically altering your appearance and don't be afraid to take time off from your job, even it a critical juncture, to do it. Ms. Clarke admitted that she had had a procedure to lose weight but equated it with self-improvement. You would have thought that she had spent those 6 weeks working out, dieting and otherwise showing some self-discipline rather than lying around "recuperating" while the rest of us were at work trying to save our school.
Neither was this supervisor of English able to perceive the irony of saying on the one hand, I'm 52 years old and have decided to let my gray hair go "natural" - after walking around for months in a jet black wig until someone must have pointed out how ridiculous she looked - and on the other hand recommending the most unnatural procedure of all - stomach stapling or whatever they call it. The concept of self parody, of course eludes her entirely.
Note #2: This is the same A.P. Clarke who observed me teaching imaginary students, naming three of them, and then described my teaching in that class as "unsatisfactory". See Chap. 35: Observing the Observer. This is the same A.P. Clarke who took 2 guesses at the date of a meeting that I'm supposed to have had with her, was wrong both times, and then used that "meeting", whenever it was and with whomever was actually there, to rate me "U" again. See Chap. 42: Observing the Observer 2.
For an "educator" to take center stage at a graduation ceremony, a public event meant to celebrate the accomplishments of the students, strip off her cap and gown and then gush about her surgically enhanced "52-year-old new body" is reprehensibe beyond description. Her nauseating performance brought new meaning to the phrase "cringe worthy".
Note #3: Although Ms. Clarke is nominally "A.P. of Supervision," which allows her to supervise English and history teachers, she has no credential or background in these areas. I'll point out, therefore, that the allusion in the title of this chapter is to Jonathan Swift and may have something to do with devouring Bronx youth. (An "allusion", Ms. Clarke, is a reference to a well-known piece of literature.)