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Do Public Schools Have a Future?

Compelled behavior is the essence of tyranny.
Induced behavior is the essence of
leadership. Both may have the same
objective, but one tends to evil, the other to good.
Dee Hock, Birth of the Chaordic Age.

The Kleinberg administration prides itself on bringing modern management to the Department of Education. Ironically they violate all the basic rules of effective management. They have created a school system that is rigid and deaf to the innovative ideas of its worksite employees.

We have to ask ourselves why the school system leadership ignores a library of literature dealing with leadership. Expert upon expert speaks of creating innovative teams with the authority to make decisions at worksites. The Klein model supports creating autocrats at the worksite with total power to hire and fire, a medieval model that we know is failing.

“The beatings will continue until moral improves” should be motto emblazoned above the caverns of Tweed.

For those of us who are a bit paranoid we wonder whether Klein wants to improve schools? He can’t use the “move the factories offshore” concept: he is creating an equivalent model.

Bloomberg/Klein proffer the creation of 250 union free charter schools, the first step toward creating a union free work environment. In addition there is a growing campaign to create vouchers and/or tax credits for parents of non public school children. The voucher/tax credit initiative is a combination of parochial school and inner city advocacy organizations.

This attack on public schools and unionized public school teachers is only beginning and will grow stronger.

We, the teacher union movement and public school parents, must form coalitions beyond the schools. Coalitions must widen and include community and advocacy organizations. The very survival of public schools is at stake.

Teachers have become complacent, at the present time parents send their children to public schools. We must be involved in the swirling world of politics. We must be careful that our heads are not embedded in the sands of ignorance. Our brothers and sisters in the United Automobile Workers never envisioned that Americans would choose to buy “foreign” cars and that these cars would ever be manufactured at non union plants in our country.

Whether small high school or large high school, elementary school or middle school, we, unionized public school teachers, must work together to create high functioning schools.

Too many of us complain and point fingers. It was encouraging to see over two thousands colleagues and parents in Albany on Lobby Day. These are perilous times and I fear that the future of public schools is in our hands, and, I hope we are up to the challenge.



  • 1 Persam1197
    · Apr 4, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    So true! The attack on labor has been insidious and we are certainly next. Why would the mayor want to increase the number of charter schools independent of his “reforms?” To weaken unions. The same with vouchers.

    Bloomberg has made it clear that unions must give back in “productivity” in order to receive “raises” that fall behind the rate of inflation. As teachers, we are not immune to the market forces against labor today. I also believe that Kleinberg’s reforms are designed to put more edudollars into private hands.

  • 2 Civil Servant
    · Apr 5, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Not in New York City or in any similar demographic environment.

    There is a tragic loss of the middle class in New York City, and we have become ” A Tale of Two Cities “, rich with options and poor without.

    Without a major influx of the middle class back to the City, there is no political base to make or petition for any significant improvements to the physical school environment, class size, teacher salaries, et al.

    This would be true regardless who is mayor, be it a Liberal or a Bloomberg. I do not think this matters any longer.

  • 3 Peter Goodman
    · Apr 5, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    I demur

    We have a vibrant middle class … people of color living throughout the city, sending their kid to public schools, voting and working very hard … quite similar to our parents and grandparents.

  • 4 Civil Servant
    · Apr 5, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    Peter Goodman,

    To quote Randi,

    Apr 4, 2006 11:56 AM

    The following column by UFT President Randi Weingarten was published on April 3 in the New York Sun.

    “No one can fault parents who seek alternatives to under-funded, low-performing public schools, and it’s easy to see why some feel charter schools are viable options for families that can’t afford or have little or no access to good public, private or parochial schools.”

    I think she is describing the same things I described in my earlier post.
    There does seem to be a lack of options for many.

    This is sad but true.

  • 5 Chaz
    · Apr 8, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    Civil Servant;

    How do you explain putting a Charter School into a building that already has a K-12 school that attracts the middle classs, NEST+M?

    The NEST+M school is exactly the type of school that the city needs to keep the middle class into the public schools.

    1. Small class sizes (22 students)
    2. Screening for gifted students
    3. Active parental involvement
    4. Neighborhood students
    5. Certified & experienced teachers

    Now the DOE wants to crowd the school by putting a Charter School in there?
    What madness is this? How does a Charter School who will employ inexperienced, non-certified teachers and children from other neighborhoods attract the middle-class students you claim it will? Why would you put it into a school that already has a working model that encouraged middle-class parents to keep their children there?

    I am waiting to hear your response.