Big Smoke

’cause it’s hard to see from where I’m standin’

65 Court St

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As I mentioned, I was laid off two years ago. I spent eleven months collecting unemployment before being hired back into the school system at the start of a new school year. However, they could not pay me until they re-entered me into the system, which meant a trip to 65 Court St in downtown Brooklyn. Read the rest of this entry »

Small Schools

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There’s something to be said about Bloomberg’s small schools initiative, which is that they’re a bright idea completely done in by a backwards implementation.

A small school should make the most of its versatility by shedding the administrative layers that large institutions require. After all, with a limited staff and a small student body, direct action is possible by the head of the school.

Not so in NYCDoE schools: Read the rest of this entry »

Bureaucratic Ineptitude

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A more ridiculous example of bureaucratic wrongness has struck me. Several, actually, which I’ll be posting about more or less regularly, if but for posterity, for it’s wrong and terrible to subject non-DoE friends to the constant onslaught of horror stories during our weekly pub crawls when I can just post it here.*

I return to this topic because Bloomberg came to the decision, after the latest round of ultimatums to the UFT, that he wasn’t going to lay off teachers after all. This filled me with dread, because the last time he said that and the UFT cheered their own might, he instead took his pound of flesh out of DC37, myself included – for, you see, computer technicians and technology coordinators are not covered in the technology section of the budget, which Bloomberg has kept sacrosanct by virtue of ensuring that none of it can be used to pay salaries.

What that meant was that the same year my school – my former school – spent $300k on new computers, SMARTBoards, tablets and associated errata, under the “use it or lose it” style of budgetary discretion principals tend to abide by, they laid off the one staff member responsible for their upkeep and usage.

My school – my current school – has spent around that much on new equipment this past school year. We’ll see if I’m still here come October.

*DoE friends are all alcoholics and incapable of talking about anything else but the system, so they lose nothing in the bargain.

Bureaucratic Inertia

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The NYC Department of Education Office of Web Services runs official school “portals,” which are websites within the nyc.gov domain for each school in the system but are in practice little more than static webpages with a list of phone numbers – web pages, consequently, that cannot be substantively changed except via e-mailed request to the OWS from the principal’s DoE account, which takes four to six weeks. Needless to say, in internet terms, four to six weeks is a lifetime.

So my school decided to strike out on its own and hire a private vendor that specializes in making NYC public school websites. We paid them and handed them the domain we’d purchased for the purpose, which had previously been used merely as a placeholder that redirected to said portal. They built our website. It works perfectly… expect on school computers. The DoE blocked our school website, which they can do because all school computers must use a DoE proxy to get online. The domain simply won’t resolve.

Why? Because we used to redirect our domain – which, to reiterate, we purchased on our own – to the DoE portal, which means contacting OWS and advising them of the change and requesting that they stop the blocks. This means waiting four to six weeks for an answer. Mind you, they have no direct phone numbers – even the DoE IT office cannot directly contact them.

Meanwhile, updating and maintaining the new website must be done off-campus, so to speak, which means not on paid time. The vendor offered to buy a fresh domain, but that would mean shuffling our Google Apps account, tied to a subdomain on the same URL, which still works perfectly fine for no other reason than because it was never redirected to the DoE portal.

I cannot immediately recall a more perfect example of a faceless, capricious, unresponsive bureaucratic inertia.

Georgia

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Apparently some parts of the South are still on a slave economy.

Whoosh

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is the sound of China passing us by.

Of course, we knew that would happen: They spent $300 billion US on rail infrastructure and Obama can’t get a bill for $53 billion to shore up our decrepit network. But what gets me is whomever the Times editor is that is highlighting user comments.

“When Americans want to go long distance, they fly?” What, and Chinese don’t? Their country’s as big as ours, and the whole point of high-speed rail is that not only is it comparable in speed to air transit, but it’s cheaper and much more efficient in transporting large amounts of people – as anybody who’s ever been in an airport in the last twenty years knows what it’s like to be constantly delayed.

“Chinese labor is cheaper.” Okay, whatever. They’ve spent $300 billion on rail transit. How much have we spent? They’re not getting it on the cheap: They’re getting it, damn the costs.

All it is is simple prioritization. They want high speed rail. They got high speed rail. We want large banker bonuses. We got large banker bonuses. Maybe I’m batting for the wrong side.

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