New York teacher exposes results of Republican takeover of public education

“This is the first time toilet paper inspired me to write an article,” says our correspondent, a United Federation of Teachers delegate. “I was working at the committee on special education writing a psychological report. I went to the bathroom and, lo and behold, a new toilet paper dispenser, the third one installed. The other two installations were pulled out of the wall in perfectly fine condition. I hear that the reason was the new dispensers dispense cheaper toilet paper. One way the city Department of Education can save money!”

What has changed in our schools? Well the toilet paper dispensers at the special education headquarters in Brooklyn, have changed — three times in one school year — while the city closed down 800 seats for the most needy in public education. Go figure!

But that is not all. Before Republican Mayor Mike Bloomberg took over the educational system, every school psychologist, assigned teacher and social worker had access to computers with the appropriate educational programs they needed to do their jobs.

Well, Dell Corporation must have gotten a big fat contract. They came in and pulled out all the functioning computers. They set new Dell desktops on every desk.

Wonderful, right? Wrong! The new computers were minus the programs we need to write individual educational plans for children with special needs. Now special education professionals sit at our desks next to the new Dell computers and hand write nine pages of individual educational plans.

The new computers are rigged so that the Tweed Building where Chancellor Joe Klein (whom I prefer to call Mike Bloomberg’s lapdog) can monitor every computer in the educational system and track what web sites they are logging on to.

This is tutoring?

It gets worse. In the last contract, the mayor added 37.5 minutes to the teachers’ workday. The time is supposed to be used for tutoring. However, each teacher must have at least 10 students. That tells you right there it isn’t “tutoring,” but small group instruction — and five minutes away from an added class period.

What the Department of Education didn’t work into its plan, however, was how were the teachers going to both dismiss their class and gather their 10 children at the same time? What were the younger siblings going to do while waiting for their older brothers and sisters attending the “tutorial” sessions.

As it now stands, on any given day you will see about 100 younger children sitting in the auditorium waiting 37.5 minutes for their older siblings. There is nothing in the plan to supervise these children.

It gets worse. I work in a school where a tiny little room with no windows must be shared with four other teachers. We can actually hear the mice scurrying in the walls. Their droppings are all over our desks, tables and bookshelves. These deplorable conditions for both elementary students and teachers have been deemed acceptable by the New York City Department of Education.

While the teachers and parents demand a better school building, the charter school down the street is getting city funds. The chancellor and mayor have been opening more and more charter schools instead of supporting the public school system. They are even housing charter schools inside public schools.

I ask you, how can a public official support private enterprise at the expense of children’s and teachers’ health?

— Maria Ortiz

In next week’s edition, our correspondent continues to document the changes wrought by Republican takeover of the New York Public Schools, including schoolchildren tested literally till they vomit.