No One Knows What It Means, But It’s Provocative, It Gets The People Going

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

via Village Voice

“… Wait, he said what?”

I pulled out my fingers to count how many kids that meant for one classroom.

“OK, so dude, you know that means I’m gonna have half my kids in the hallway while I teach, right?”

I started doing seating arrangements in my mind.

“Are you going to invest in carpets and place mats for every student who has to receive instruction from me and the now halved instructional staff in my building? Are some of the students going to have to take turns standing while receiving? Will you give me a reprieve from any sort of accountability for the next three years as I try to figure out how I can service a class with a double size roster? Will you abandon any discussion on differentiation or personalization, and will you go visit schools that were already struggling to begin with when they fall exponentially from having to service already struggling students in much tighter quarters?”

I scribble some lightning on the side of my scratchpad.

“You mean, you intend on shaking things up for the sake of shaking them? Was Naomi Klein writing about you implicitly? And if so, why didn’t you write a quality review on her book? I don’t even want to ask you how you would run the education system for your kids, because you wouldn’t dare mess with that. Frankly, no one knows or asks what’s happening in those schools besides bake sales and iPads. Meanwhile, your public service workers continue to drown and suffer under your fight against municipal workers. While you continue to pull the rug from under the proletariat, you have just enough dissonance amongst so-called middle class people in this city to continue your flippant, smug attitude towards teachers.”

I draw a vulture getting struck by that previous lightning drawing.

“It must be nice sitting atop your branch. In the meantime, I have kids who have truancy issues because their parents can’t get stable jobs, kids whose malnutrition and lack of sleep creates rings around their eyes and nooses around their brains, kids who come to school to stabilize them and get attention, kids who look so unplugged we have to check their pulse regularly, kids who think they’ll make it past 25 … and you’re wasting them all the same. It doesn’t take a full education to work less than minimum wage or do the jobs you’d never consider for anyone in your circles.”

I sit silently for a little while, and take a deep breath.

“I get that you’re OK with all of this, but I’m not.”

Shit. I’m never going to get this lesson plan done.

“If we treated doctors the way we treated teachers … scratch that. They almost did. And when they used value-added models for saying who was best, they let those who were at higher risk of dying go because they wouldn’t touch them. Only the bravest, and most caring doctors took the patients that needed the most help. When they dumped the model, doctors didn’t stop doing their jobs. They’re still doctors, and their practice is considered professional opinion. But if anything ever happened to you, you wouldn’t have to worry because you’re in the percentage of people who can afford the people who ought to provide for everyone.”

I rub my chin.

“If you really want to have 60 students in a classroom and only the best teachers teaching, just keep talking like you’re doing. Only the most dedicated will stay in the classroom, the people who need to retire will after a few years, and no one will want to teach in NYC with the rent, food, entertainment, electricity, transportation, and other living expenses so damn high. Sounds like a plan, Hizzoner. Whether choosing the right doctor or teaching in a school system where they feel unappreciated, humans are naturally risk averse, so when you bring those things up … oh, I see what you did there.”

“Never mind. Maybe all the people will catch exactly what you’re trying to do.”

Mr. Vilson, who asks “What’s an EduBlog Award to a dude like me, would you please remind me?”