Today was, I suppose, a rather momentous day. The NYC ELA scores came out (in the papers at least; us teachers haven't seen the numbers yet), and they improved. Our school is number ONE in the district for all three grades. Wow! I can't wait to see how my students did.
Also, it was the "Report Card Rally" for the NYC teachers' union, held at Madison Square Garden. I caught a ride with three of my colleagues; we got the LIRR from the island. It was my inaugural trip to MSG, and it was not bad. We were quite high up, waving our tiny banners and cheering. One of the loudest people ever was behind me: this woman who, at every opportune time, roared "YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!", drowning out whoever was speaking. Not only that, but her damn cell phone kept ringing, and she kept answering it! Naturally, her speaking voice was also loud and quite disruptive. Use your powers for good, woman! Not for irritating your neighbors!
The rally had some political figures, besides the union pres Randi W.: the mayoral candidates opposing Bloomberg (BOO! DOWN WITH BLOOMBERG!) and the president of the Hispanic Federation; there were some other types there too: a parent or two, and a very eloquent senior from SI Tech. Not only that, several musical acts performed. Have you ever heard of Richie Havens? Me neither. He was pretty cool though. During his first number, a slower folky number, the entire stadium waved their lit-up cell phone screens. Gotta love the 21st century!
The final "act" was a series of teachers/staff giving the final "grades" that the New York City teachers gave the "Children First" initiative and the Bloomberg/Klein administration. Two D's and then six or seven F's!
It was pretty inspiring to feel a part of something so huge and so necessary as a city-full of teachers. We filled a good part of the arena. All teachers! We had such great spirit and support from community members and each other. I felt humbled and also proud to be part of a diverse and powerful group. This was the first time that I've been able to be outside of the Fellows program and/or just my school, and part of the community of New York City teachers. We all work our asses off every day, doing endless, thankless work. Our peers only a few miles away make 15% more, AND have more resources at their disposal, not to mention better demands for student behavior and accountability.
What is not so inspiring is the lack of honesty coming from the mayor's office. The UFT has been very loud and vocal about the need for a new contract, SINCE IT'S BEEN TWO DAMN YEARS, but a big fat nothing from the head honcho. Now, naturally, he's taking credit for the test score increase (which, come on, who knows how representative they are? Everyone knows that the fourth-grade scores jumped because the lowest-level third-graders were kept back, which nullified the concept of a fair and representative score). Any notions of REWARDING the people directly responsible for the work that led to whatever success he can claim. Still so focused on that fucking stadium, instead of making sure that the future of New York City is well-educated.
I did not know before tonight that under Bloomberg, the city has amassed a three billion dollar surplus. Holy shit! I have four words in response to that, mister mayor:
Show us the money!
Show the teachers you care, show the children that you want them to grow up safe and smart, decrease class sizes and increase funding for schools (WHICH YOU PROMISED TO DO), and show the entire city that you can do the right thing!