Hooray Accountability ... - The Jose Vilson

Hooray Accountability …

by Jose Vilson on December 6, 2007

AccountabilityI like sitting down listening to Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” and thinking whether they had a worry in the world while smoking their drugs in their recording sessions. At the time of that song’s creation, they were already considered geniuses, so they didn’t really have “bosses,” or anyone to really hold them accountable outside of their mothers. The same can’t be said for the average worker in NYC these days.

Lately, the biggest talk amongst administrators in any sector containing unions has become accountability. Bloomberg and Co. have brought the discussion of accountability to the schools, and 3 reorganizations later, he’s made every principal into the schools’ CEO, thus deflecting responsibility off himself and his administration and concentrating it on the principals. Unfortunately, they also forgot to clean up the previous schema so the residue of years of failure still exist. We still have the same issues, just much more uncertainty, much more profit made off individual schools through “not-for-profits”, and teachers whose job security is in free fall. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be held more responsible for the parts we play in children’s education; everyone, though, has to do their part to make equity and stability a factor in our children’s success. We’re farther from that than before the 3 reorganizations.

Thus, if they can restructure education in that way, then public transportation is a walk in the park. Bloomberg intends to reorganize the hierarchy of the subway, breaking up the system by train lines, and establishing managers for each, with the premise that the manager now has more incentive to maintain order within his or her line. Yet, the decentralization of the subways again serves to distract the average rider from the messy administration that the Mass Transit Authority has established over the last decade or two and place more attention on the workers themselves. The MTA has such a history of mishandling money and providing spotty service on many of the important bus and train lines in the city that they probably never sought out any other solution but dispersion (They could have just removed the offending administrators and effectively cleaned up the department, but I just ride, vote, and pay taxes. what do I know?). Look how well it’s worked for schools (in Bloomberg’s favor).

So the principals hold teachers accountable, the managers will hold train workers accountable, the mayor and co. will hold the principals and managers accountable, but who holds the administration accountable? Not only is this a citywide predicament, but a nationwide problem too. While innocent workers from here to Iraq and all points in between left and right are held accountable for their acts, our administrators have no qualms burning secret videotapes of Al Qaeda interrogations. The more we demand from our administration, the more we probe about their torture and water boarding, the more we hold them accountable for their actions, the more they burn and blackout their documents, inciting even more questioning.

Yet this is the example that the country sets for their city counterparts, which continues to spell opaque terms for people like you and me, wherever we work …

jose

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa December 8, 2007 at 10:27 am

Like this post, Jose. I have another question, who holds parents accountable??? I met with a parent the other day who actually asked me did we think about her when we suspended her son – after all, she said, she’s a single parent and she has to take off her job to clear her child’s suspension. She SINCERELY thought WE were being selfish and unconcerned. Her son had only, after all, refused to stop talking on his cell phone in class. Then, after the administrator handling the situation said, “If you give me the cell phone – you can go back to class. I’ll give the phone to your mother after school.” He said, “I’m not gone be able to do that” – then, walked out the front door!

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Hugh O'Donnell aka Repairman December 8, 2007 at 11:54 pm

I may be an insensitive so-and-so, but I believe you do what you believe to be the right thing, the ethical thing, the moral thing, the legal thing, and let the chips fall where they may. Parent doesn’t like it, hold their hand. They don’t want their hand held, well, you can guess where I’d be coming from. ;)

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Jose December 9, 2007 at 9:13 pm

@ Lisa: Besides ACS, not many. Some of the teachers do, and they go to some extremes to make them accountable. At this stage of my teaching career, I don’t always feel like I should be enforcing parent accountability, but most of my work / contact is implicit. I agree with the parenting thing, but it starts from birth, and by the time you catch them in middle school, it’s hard to reverse the effects.

@ Hugh: Yes as a matter of fact, I do.

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