|It's Not Your Grandpa's Insurgency|
Remember Craig Charvat? I hope so since I only wrote about him a day ago. Well, as my voice acting agent, coach and mentor always says. You've got to have a back story. Yesterday's post dealt with the fallout Craig generated by speaking to Newsday on behalf of fellow teachers and for his own purposes to smack down the asinine demands of the Common Core and standardized testing as well as the hallucinogenic math of the APPR being used to deprofessionalize teaching and put teachers on a two year fast track to termination. After Craig spoke to Newsday and word spread that he had, his Principal Ed Caswell demonstrated that peculiar administrative trick of removing his own spine and leaving it in a drawer at home before coming to school. Caswell's reaction to a teacher blasting the agenda of "ed reforming" billionaires and their bought off political hacks was to start nit picking the teacher instead of embracing the refreshing truth Craig had expressed publicly. Caswell summoned Craig to his office, suggesting he bring union representation. Then again and again. Never in 15 years previously had Mr. Charvat been called to the office. But in less than a week Casswell hauled him in like a village cop on a teen ager's loud Camaro three separate times. And here's the backstory : Last year when told to submit this that and several other artifacts and items to demonstrate the soundness of his pedagoguery, Charvat declined. He what ? He said No. I am not submitting any of it. Yes folks, the guy told them to fuck off. Well, you have to submit these things, you just have to, I am sure some hand wringing flunkie must have muttered. Charvat, I can only imagine, smiled broadly and said Nope. Not happening.
As a consequence Craig Charvat was labeled an "ineffective" teacher. As the kids say with no small amount of derision "Ooooooooooooh....." Exactly. The fact that he's effective enough and confident enough in his own skill set, experience and subject knowledge to tell them to piss off led to his being labeled "ineffective." Oh that we could all be as "effective" as Lil John King scowling and stamping his foot on the stage during the Spackenkill Massacre as teachers and parents told him " Sit Down" "Your Time is Up" "Stop Talking" and possibly a few other suggestions that were less courteous. I guess that's the level of effectiveness NYSED is looking for in educators. Mr. Charvat's refusal, his designation as a sucky teacher and his willingness to wear it as a badge of honor and go public with the whole farcical exercise is face slappingly refreshing. Craig didn't get nailed by this system, he forced this system to nail him and make a dead ass wrong assertion about his professional abilities. He is showing us and them and anyone else who cares to see the truth -- parents for example -- that their system is bullshit and it can't be trusted. It spits out data that is 100% wrong. It declared him to be ineffective. Odd but I read a moving testominial from a mother on facebook who shared how Craig's class engaged her wayward son who seemed to have no interest in anything and got him hooked on history and politics, eventually winning essay contest and being invited to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Not the effects of "ineffective" teaching, sorry NYSED. According to Carl Korn of NYSUT, Craig Charvat is the only teacher in the state to be rated ineffective and have the stones to speak up about it.
Fellow pedagogues I say we can improve those numbers. Yeah I know, we're all anxious about losing our jobs. But how badly does anyone want a job where we get treated like idiots by non-educators, financed by non educators to the detriment of the kids we love teaching? I know Dick Ianuzzi loves to tell us we do ourselves no good dying on the barricades. Yeah Dick, we'll just cower behind the barricades while you and Weingarten make your Quisling-Vichy concession driven deals with the very people looking to destroy our profession. Refusing -- it's not just for kids any more. And seriously, does Craig Charvat strike anyone as a dumb guy? (A former stockbroker, he is certified by Syracuse University as an adjunct instructor in economics and sociology, which allows him to teach those subjects at Center Moriches High for college credit.) Does anyone think he hasn't looked into the chessboard to see what's ahead before he flipped the finger to their King? Right now they are going to waste more time and money crafting a teacher rehab plan for Craig. They are going to improve his teaching with a time consuming, ridiculously irrelevant "plan" that will make some pencil pusher feel a little better and waste a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. As far as Ianuzzi is concerned nobody died here. A strong teacher is being subjected to a tv dinner schematic so some rubric and data fetishists can get their freak on and convince themselves that they have put Mr. Charvat on the path of righteousness. And down the road, let's say Mr. Charvat persists in his orgy of refusal in spite of the rigorous and robust rehabbing he is subjected to. Imagine he folds his arms across his chest, smiles broadly when they come collecting for his best practices, his data, his modules and artifacts and says Not happening. Do they really want to try to terminate anyone with their bogus VAMS and their Danielsons and their margins of error you could drive a Pearson truck through? Really? Do you think Craig would need a number dispenser like the butcher shop uses to keep track of the lawyers begging to take this case?
Strikes me that we need more refuseniks among our ranks. Some of us are better equipped to do so than others. (Some of us really like this kind of shit!) It's not enough to like Craig's FB status and toss him a big thumbs up. It's a start but he's stuck his neck out for all of us and is taking the heat for it. If we really want to honor his actions and emulate the infectious spirit of refusal he's generated then we all need to start finding ways to say No, not happening. Insurgency is nearly impossible to defend against, ask Dick Cheney about his unfortunate comments on the subject. It's high time we as teachers and parents started taking this fight as seriously as the ones waging war on us have been taking it. No doubt we're all under attack. It's time to start hitting back, by any means necessary.