Saturday, August 30, 2008

"not with a bang, but a whimper"

Sometimes major cases end not with a bang, but with a whimper. Let's go back to June 1988... the documentation reveals the long story. The letters posted below brought sweet and satisfying closure to a series of "grievances" I initiated against a principal in June 1988. Just as my case was about to go to Step IV (arbitration) in October 1989, the principal backed down and withdrew the unfair letters from my file. The fight along the way was not easy and it was filled with obstacles even from within the UFT. The district representative did not want to take my grievance to step 3 and I had to appeal his decision. I won my appeal, and after losing at step 3 I received the letter for which I was hoping. The UFT was prepared to take my case all the way to the final step: arbitration. I was elated because very few cases get that far. I knew if I won at that level my case would set into place union contractual bylaws. But it never went to arbitration because the letters were quietly removed by the principal. So my case ended not with a bang, but with a mere and quiet whimper.
In October of 1989 I was no longer teaching in that school because after my sabbatical from September 1988 to June 1989, I elected to transfer to a school in another district. I had no idea that the administrative script would remain the same and only the players' names would change.
So many teachers in NYC have had similar struggles because in NYC the administration treats teachers like the enemy. It's a "gotcha" mentality and supervisors are primed and coached in ways to "go after" teachers and build cases. It's really a shame. And it is time to shine a bright light on what goes on. I was strong and able to fight this bizarre and widespread administrative agenda. There is not anything that happens within the school for which the teacher will not be blamed.

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