In a letter, dated May 8, to school principals, Chancellor Klein laid out matters of budget and The New I-Zone.
Most incriminating of the motives and mindset of its malicious author, was the part bemoaning the current seniority for the layoff system.
That “last hired, first fired” principle has thrived for generations throughout the city, state and federal civil service system. It has of late been under all-out siege nationwide, especially against members of teacher unions. You don’t hear or read of it with respect to police officers, members of Congress, et al.
Chancellor Klein would like all principals, including those who never or hardly ever taught and whose expertise is based on a quickie leadership course and/or social networking skills or a fortuitous DNA link, to exercise life and death control over the careers of all educators, including those whose mastery and experience infinitely exceeds theirs.
The chancellor is too shrewd to flatly state that he favors giving principals the power to lay off anyone they want at any time for any reason. Of course he says that criteria would need to be established (he cites, for example, the foggy factor of “contribution to school community,” whatever that means.)
A principal’s tongue and pen would need to go through the motions of articulating reasons for the axing, but this would just be a “cover” because principals would be acting, if Klein had his druthers, in keeping with their divine right as CEOs. They could fall back, for what they would deem good measure, on a DOE issued template for delivering bad news to star-crossed (and supervisor-crossed) teachers.
Maybe that manual is already being prepared by one of the DOE’s new brigade of new deputy chancellors. Or perhaps the folks who did the Teacher Performance Unit playbook would get the job.
In his public statements, the chancellor douses his infective agenda with the antiseptic of phony justifications. He’ll trot out diversionary buzz phrases, sickeningly sweet in their irony, (like “We must put children first”) as he prosecutes his devious campaign of union-busting.
Chancellor Klein says, in effect, that he savors the thought of all U-rated teachers and ATRs losing their jobs first and laments that according to the number of layoffs currently projected, most of the elementary school teachers hired since the fall of 2007 would be sacrificed instead.
By seeming to champion junior teachers and depicting the union as the defender of a system that victimizes them, the chancellor is trying to sew dissension and insinuate his false message into the consciousness of a large segment of union members as well as the general public.
The chancellor has been a trafficker in misperceptions for the entirety of his occupation of Tweed. But most rookie teachers don’t trust being taken under his dirty wing.
They know that as a firewall against patronage, nepotism, blackmail and other forms of exploitation, the rule of seniority has been a cornerstone of the civil service in most of the industrialized world for most of modern history. We all benefit from it sooner or later in one way or other.
In his letter, Chancellor Klein soothes principals with the assurance that his “Human Resources team will be working through the layoff process.”
What he means, of course, is that the DOE will fight tooth and nail to capsize the ship of civil service law.
But educators, regardless of their place on the seniority list, will not be split and entrapped by the chancellor and his wily appeal for an alliance. They have too much self-respect, grip on reality and knowledge of history to be suckered as pawns in the chancellor’s game of chess.