Principals Demonstrating Principles

    Elizabeth Green's piece in the NY Sun today on the anger being expressed by principals over being kept in the dark over budget cuts hits cuts to the core. Remember the mantra of the multiple reorganizations of BloomKlein was the empowerment of principals – empowerment means the ability to screw teachers and shunt them and parents out of the ed process. Green nails the World of Tweedledom in these 3 sentences.

    The department's deputy chancellor for finance and administration, Kathleen Grimm, said last week that her staff began brainstorming cuts about two months ago, in November.

    No principals have yet been informed of the cuts.

    A Department of Education spokesman, David Cantor, said they would be informed in the next few days.

    ! Let's see. November, December, January, almost February. Bet if not for Green's article they wouldn't hear in May.

    Featured in Green's article is Brian (Leavy) De Vale, principal of PS 257 who is one of the first principals to lay out the BloomKlein regime with a roundhouse right and couple of left hooks – a sure sign that lame duck status is descending on the BloomKlein era.

    A few more choice quotes from the Green piece:

    [De Vale] listed several multimillion-dollar expenses the Department of Education might cut from its central office budget instead, including ramped-up testing; a new data warehousing program called ARIS, and a process of reviewing schools through an outside contractor based in Britain. The ARIS system is costing the Department of Education $12.2 million this year, and the review process is costing $5.9 million, Mr. Cantor said. The new interim tests were to cost $80 million over five years.

    To save money, Mr. Bloomberg's budget calls for scaling back the tests to four a semester from five. Mr. Klein hails all three programs as innovations that put New York City schools ahead of the country in terms of their ability to individualize teaching.

    In an interview yesterday, Mr. De Vale, whose school received an A grade on its progress report, said the emphasis on data did not match his priorities. "We don't spend our day looking at flow- charts," he said. "My priority is keeping kids off the street."

    The criticisms come a week after Mr. Klein released a survey showing wide approval among principals for the programs Mr. De Vale disparaged.

    The survey was given anonymously, and about 70% of principals responded.

    Mr. De Vale said the results were distorted because many principals were not under the impression that their answers were actually anonymous.

    "This is a climate of fear," he said. "Principals don't speak the truth."

    I knew Brian [as Leavy] when he worked for the District 14 office and he became principal just as they folded the districts. Brian was part of the old machine in the district and is proof that not all was bad in the old regime. I have lots of friends who work at PS 257 and there are only raves for Brian as a principal. I won't go into the reasons that he is such a good leader because having teachers, parents and children love you doesn't fit the Tweed model corporate type.

    Kudos to Green for following up on the Klein press conference we both attended last week where Klein Kvelled about how wonderful principals thought he was doing. The rest of the press corps I'm sure sat there thinking Klein must be Bubble Boy if he thinks those surveys were really honest since principals have such mistrust in Tweed, sure their responses are being tracked, yet did not try to follow up on the possibility these surveys were a sham. The cracks are beginning to show, thanks to Green's work.

    Make sure to check out NYC educator's take on this issue today.

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Principals Demonstrating Principles

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