Ron Isaac’s Commentary: The DOE: Wellspring of Rotten Planning

Sep 27, 2021 by

Doing the right thing the wrong way can be as ruinous as not doing it at all when plans for carrying it out are logistically botched. 

The Department of Education’s vaccination mandate for all school personnel was conceived in sound science and rooted in sincerity.  But they are once again implicated in a gross error of judgment, the consequences of which they, but not students, parents or educators, will escape.

The rollout of the latest variant of DOE incompetence was scheduled for Sept. 28th, but thanks to a temporary federal injunction, it will be delayed, but likely not sufficient for the DOE to get its act together.

Except for a statistically insignificant handful who have been granted exemptions, members of all titles and ranks will be booted from payroll and forfeit their positions at least until they reclaim them upon complying with the vaccination order. 

Whether such an absolutist injunction is constitutionally defensible and not a violation of religious liberty, privacy laws, and the prudent practice of medicine for patients with certain medical histories, is beyond the scope of this commentary.  But one thing is inarguable: there will be chaos and lasting damage to the credibility and viability of what was our rebounding public school system.

School safety agents, whose role is far more complex than security guards, will be diminished to around half their number. They are indispensable not only for discipline, but also for establishing a benign atmosphere. 

A large percentage of custodial workers, without whom no school could function for long, will also be gone.  Kitchen staff, who are often the sole deliverers of nutrition to our students, will be in short supply.  Pupil transportation, always in a state of anarchy, will be aggravated by holdout drivers ineligible to work.
Worst of all, thousands of classroom teachers will be replaced by credentialed warm bodies that meet the legal requirement of being placed there, thereby satisfying the DOE’s definition of a solution according to their limp standard.

But although these substitute instructors are often exceedingly talented, circumstances beyond their control render them typically ineffective. Lack of administrative support is foremost among them

The DOE feels that if they can generate optics to hoodwink the public into believing that they are solution-driven, that trust in the illusion of a solution constitutes an actual solution.

When the federal injunction is lifted and there are not enough teachers to manage the students and the DOE calls in the thousands of qualified substitute teachers it claims, with morbid optimism, are available, there will be a cutthroat competition to engage them, because of what is certain to be a severe imbalance of supply and demand.

Don’t believe the official blather about battle-tested reinforcements being ready to take over or the mayor and chancellor’s bleats about the system not missing a beat.  The system will be flat-lined.

Many schools will resort to warehousing students into auditoriums during “mass preps” where third-rate movies will be shown with sound tracks drowned out by the noisy, restless, and victimized kids. 

The DOE’s deadline for vaccinations was arbitrary and ill-timed and they have nobody but themselves to blame.  It was not forced on them and they knew the final reckoning was coming. 

Their actions have created additional instability and loss of public confidence.  They did so at exactly after the routines for the new school year had been established, school communities were settled in and on board and faith in our public schools was impressively restored.

Contingency arrangements should have been finalized before Labor Day.  The Agency known as the “perfect storm for failure” blew it again. 

As an institution they are enduring yet unendurable.  They defy lasting rehabilitation, but in the short-term they will sometimes yield to political pressure and the persuasive authority of organized communities.  Unions can  also knock some sense into their tawdry standard operating procedures.

If the compulsory vaccination ignites and fragments our cherished public school system, the injury to our City will be beyond measure and slow to heal.

Ron Isaac

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