2000-01-08 / Columnists

School Scope

by Howard Schwach

The sudden disappearance of the chancellor has led to lots of speculation as to what will happen in the coming months. I have looked into my trusty (if a bit cloudy) crystal ball. Foudini would have been proud.

Here is what will happen this year:

  • January 12: The central school board announces that it has bought out Rudy Crew’s contract. As part of the deal, Crew gets his townhouse moved from Brooklyn to Seattle and he becomes one-third owner of the New York Jets. He also gets $4 million a year for life and all the rent from the Empire State Building and JFK Airport for the next four years. A board spokesman says, "this is a good deal for New York City because it will give us a chance to hire a real leader in Crew’s place."
  • January 13: The mayor, bypassing the board of education, announces that ex-aide Randy Levine would become the interim chancellor. Levine, who spent a short time as president of the Yankees after leaving City Hall, expresses his delight over the new role by saying, "I’ll hit a homerun for the mayor and run all those know-nothing educators out of Livingston Street." Giuliani, who admits that Levine will take some time away from his job to help run the mayor’s bid for the senate, answers a reporter’s question by stating, "education credits, we don’t need no stinkin’ education credits."
  • January 25: The State Commissioner of Education announces that State Education Law requires that a chancellor have a Masters degree with 24 credits in education, a supervisory license and at least three years of full time administrative or supervisory experience. He refuses to waive the law for somebody who seems to have "such a great disdain for education."
  • February 21: The mayor and the board of education make a joint announcement that Beverly Hall, former District 27 superintendent, former board deputy chancellor, former chancellor of the Newark (New Jersey) and Atlanta (Georgia) schools will be the interim chancellor and a candidate for the permanent job.
  • March 3: Hall announces with great fanfare that she has the panacea to all of the city’s educational ills. She orders that all teachers use "Learning Objectives" rather than "Aims" in developing lessons. She earmarks $145 million to the efficacy institute to teach teachers how to write learning objectives. The money needed for this staff development initiative forces the city to raise class size in grades K-3 and to cut money for "Project Read." "It will be worth it," she tells shocked reporters.
  • March 27: Hall sends "SWAT" teams into every SURR school in the city. Fifteen central board supervisors are sent to each of the 147 schools supposedly to survey them and target educational changes. Seven hundred and fifty of those people are never heard from again. While Hall says that the purpose of the "visits" are to look at the school as a whole, not to target individual teachers, 2,300 untenured teachers are fired the next day. Having no replacements, the class size in those schools is capped at 63 students.
  • April 15: The mayor reiterates that he does not need a "Search Committee" to find a new chancellor. He says that Hall is doing a good job, but that he would like a "team leader" to get the job. Several of the board members answer that they want an educational leader in the slot. They are removed by the borough presidents who appointed them prior to dinner time. "I am not trying to control the process," the mayor tells the press. "I just want a chancellor who I can work with for the betterment of the kids."
  • April 16: The mayor announces that he will not approve any chancellor who will not move towards a massive voucher system. "Parochial schools were good enough for me, and they should be good enough for everybody else," he says.
  • May 23: The Central Board announces that they have several candidates for the job. The mayor refuses to look at the list.
  • June 10: The mayor announces that the school board cannot allocate money for summer school unless they come up with a candidate for chancellor that he approves of. The new standards dictate that 35,000 students attend summer school or be left back a grade. Hall says that the mayor is wrong, that planning for summer school has to move ahead.
  • June 11: Under orders from the mayor, the central board terminates Hall’s employment. "She obviously was not a team player," the mayor says.
  • June 28: School ends and 324,364 parents get letters stating that their children will be left back if they do not attend summer school to remediate problems in reading or mathematics. They are all assigned to schools. Once again, special education students are exempted from the standards.
  • July 1: Not having any money to staff the schools, the students arrive to find schools that are closed and locked. "Blame the school board, the supervisors and the teachers if the program is not working," the mayor tells angry parents at a "Call the Mayor" segment on Radio 88. "You certainly cannot blame this on me." The UFT President, Randi Weingarten, announces that teachers will volunteer their time to teach those students who need the remediation. She calls on teachers to report to their home schools on July 5.
  • July 5: Seven teachers show up for work throughout the city. There are no supervisors. The schools remain locked and closed. "See, the teachers really don’t care about the kids. All they care about is money," the mayor says.
  • August 25: Mayor Giuliani and the school board hold a surprise press conference to announce that they have hired a new chancellor. The new educational leader of the City of New York is Bill Parcells. "Talk about leadership and team building," the mayor gushes. "He took three franchises from the bottom to the top and he can do the same thing for the schools." "We’re going to put our best team in the field," Parcells tells the reporters. "I expect that our new coaches and our draft picks will carry us through until I can change the defensive system." When told that there were no draft picks in education, Parcells looked confused and wandered off.
  • September 6: School opens. There is some chaos because there are 325,000 holdovers and nobody knows who they are. Since the standardized tests from the year before were never graded, schools have no idea of who passed and who failed. Some schools have hundreds of students too many and some have hundreds of students too few. Class size in some schools top 50 while 15 kids sit in each classroom in other schools. "This is the fault of those professional educators who are simply looking for the buck and an early retirement," the mayor announces. "If we could have hired our coach, er, our chancellor earlier, this would never have happened. "You have to hit the ball where it is punted," Parcells said, mixing his metaphors, "we’ll get them in the second quarter."
  • November 1: Giuliani refused to negotiate with teachers until after the election. "I am not going to give them the store just because I am running for the senate," he says. "They have to vote for me rather than that damned carptebagger." "Let them all retire," he yells.
  • November 7: Giuliani loses in a landslide to Clinton after the unions turn out massive number of voters against the mayor.
  • December 16: 43,798 teachers retire under the Tier I rules that allow them to retire after working for one year on the top salary. There are no replacements. "I am not going to give those teachers anything," the mayor angrily announces. "They backed that carpetbagger in the election and they can have her." There are no replacements. Class size raises to 75.
  • January 1: Parcells resigns his position as chancellor. "We never could establish the running game," he says. The school board, appointed entirely by the mayor, vows a quick search for a new chancellor. "Parcells got us going in the right direction," the mayor says. "We need more of the same, and we need it quickly." He wonders aloud if Joe Torres is available.





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