Saturday, November 21, 2015
What I Saw in the Schools by Sol Stern, City Journal Autumn 2015
At City-Journal.org, Sol Stern shares his observations:
"I can still recall the shock I experienced one morning in September 1991 after dropping my boys off at P.S. 87’s schoolyard. I lingered for a few minutes, chatting with some other parents, when I noticed a bent man in dirty, tattered clothes, wandering around the yard as if in a stupor. Wondering if a derelict had gotten into the schoolyard, I asked one of the parents if she recognized him. She responded with an ironic grin: 'Don’t you know? That’s Malcolm, one of our new teachers.'
Incredulous, I headed off to Principal Jane Hand’s office. It was all true, Hand confirmed. Malcolm was now a teacher in good standing at our K–5 school. She had to hire this deeply troubled person because of the seniority-transfer clause in the labor agreement between the city and the United Federation of Teachers. The contract required principals to post half of their schools’ teacher vacancies at the end of each year and offer the positions to applicants with the greatest seniority in the system. Hand didn’t even have the right to interview Malcolm (who had transferred from a Bronx elementary school) before he showed up on the first day of school."