2001-08-25 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

Chatting With Chapey by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

A sound, standards based education is one of the most precious foundations that any individual can have. Even though most people who are pursuing further education are doing so in order to improve themselves, it is society at large that benefits from an educated citizenry. Individuals who continue their education usually earn higher salaries and therefore increase our tax base. Also, these educated people pass this desire for further education on to their family and they look for a better education.

Lately, in the news we can see that all the candidates running for office are making education their number one priority. The same was true last year during the presidential elections. Education was a number one priority on the national front.

It is truly tragic that in New York State, educational priorities are being driven solely by the budget (at this late date in August). Last Thursday’s (August 17, 2001) editorial in the New York Times noted that Chancellor Harold Levy has a new proposal for cutting hundreds of jobs from the administrative budget. According to the New York Times, these layoffs are the result of an intensive effort to evaluate each administrative position at the NYC Board of Education and impose a business oriented management style to the Board of Education bureaucracy. The New York Times finds that the Board of Education is a patronage machine. While I commend the Chancellor for his progressive management style, I do feel that many of these layoffs are deeper than the Chancellor would make had the current budget been more realistic.

There have been many studies about the effect of down sizing (which is an American invention) on organizations and businesses. Down sizing may cause productivity and profits to rise in the short run. Traditionally, companies do save money in the first year or two after significant down sizing. However, the research shows that over the long haul down sizing has serious detrimental effects on the products that are produced. Can we afford to experiment with massive down sizing in our educational system at a time when we are having difficulty recruiting teachers and administrators?

It is my belief that Chancellor Levy (given a more realistic budget) would not be proposing massive layoffs. Do we want to further discourage new recruits from coming into the New York City Board of Education? Do we want to further demoralize our current teachers and administrators?

Let’s work together to create a better educational system for our students. Let’s bring back the Board of Examiners. Teachers and administrators should be appointed based on their knowledge of the education field. We should go back to selecting the most qualified pedagogues based on an objective standard which has proven validity and reliability.

Chancellor Levy was realistic in conducting a stud of each position in the New York City Board of Education. However, let’s not force him to throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s lobby all elected officials and inform them that we need a more realistic budget for next year. Now is not the time to force more professionals out of New York.

Simply throwing money at the Board of Education will not work. Let’s make sure that these funds are accompanied by an objective system of standardized criteria to be utilized in hiring our educational professionals.

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