When in Doubt—Reorganize
New Structure Raises More Questions Than Answers
Today, (as I write this,) marks my 30th day as President of CSA. Moving forward in my new role as the leader of this union, I plan to share with you my thoughts and insights concerning the state of labor and education in New York City. As we ford the uncharted waters in which we, the administrators and supervisors of the NYC school system, find ourselves of late, I hope my words provide you with some understanding of how things stand and perhaps even inspire you to look ahead with something akin to optimism.
Although 30 days is a relatively short period of time, many issues have already surfaced. Most of us remain concerned about the continued instability of our education system. This coming fall, we will, once again, be asked to implement a massive reorganization.
This is phase two of some alleged master plan hatched by a closeted and closed committee of consultants. I can only surmise who was consulted in the development of this plan because when I speak to parents, teachers, elected officials and, yes, school leaders, no one ever claims to have been included in the process.
First of all, I question the need for a reorganization of the nascent regional structure implemented in 2003 that the Mayor and Chancellor now claim has finished its job. Its mission was never outlined, promulgated or explained except in terms of cutting overhead. All will be pleased to know, however, it was a success, although what it succeeded at was left to our imaginations.
Don’t misunderstand me: Allowing educators who are closest to students to make the decisions that have an impact on them is unquestionably the right way to go. But the DOE will miss an opportunity when they serve a full course dinner and don’t provide the proper utensils.
A Principal is, after all, the Principal Teacher in a building, not the Principal Manager. How can a Principal reasonably be expected to focus on achievement when he or she is also responsible for scores of buses, developing a budget without actually having control, overseeing grant proposals and the building’s heating system, staffing lunchrooms and reviewing stacks of paperwork documenting compliance with an untold number of mandates?
However, I believe we will persevere and succeed despite reorganizations and shifting trends. I remain awed when I visit fellow supervisors and see how they make student achievement a priority and the measures they take to nurture students even though the people who should be supporting them have made structure the priority instead. There is a disconnect when we can’t coordinate some of the basic goals of this system and when we fail, the blame is placed on those people furthest from the decision-making process. I must question the quality and necessity of these new “supports” so soon after we have finally learned to navigate—and succeed with—the first reorganization.#
Ernest Logan is the President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators