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NYC Educator: The Chancellor Appreciates You

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

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Dear Teachers,

Every day I am inspired by the dedication and innovation you bring to your work. As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, please don’t harp on the fact that we are currently offering you zero percent salary increases unless you agree to productivity increases. What’s money, guys? Teaching is a calling.

As part of our Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations, I recorded a short thank you video for you. Now, honestly, shouldn’t that be enough? Why do you need a raise in salary? I made the video. That would be enough for you if you were truly dedicated.

We are stronger because of you. You are owed an enormous debt of gratitude for your perseverance, your resilience, and your profound commitment. I can’t say exactly who owes this debt. Not us, of course, because, you know, even though we’re rolling in dough we’re offering zero percent. This notwithstanding, were it not for you, I would have to go out there and do actual work. So believe me, I appreciate you a lot.

Because of you, our students have been able to return to full-time classroom learning. Sure, they’re more likely to get COVID since we don’t require masks. Picky, picky, picky. Because of your efforts, and your teamwork in getting vaccinated, we were able to stay safe and stay open during the Omicron surge. Sure, 20% of your students were out with COVID on any given day. Sure, we dumped unvaccinated teachers without due process, in blatant violation of state law. Sure, we’re being sued by UFT for that. But we don’t care, because it’s not our money we’re playing with. It’s yours, and that’s what swagger is all about.

Additionally, while our city fights against increased gun violence, and state education law, our schools serve as safe havens and tight communities that provide healing and support for our young people. Students know that whatever they do, they won’t be suspended. No matter how they mistreat you, insult your mother, or whatever, we’ll call their house, once, maybe, and hope for the best.

Despite all the incredible challenges of the pandemic, New York City’s students have the opportunity to grow and flourish. kids have pathway to a rewarding career (And lest you correct me, note the singular indefinite article, indicating one career, somewhere, for a million kids.), long-term economic security, and the ability to be a positive force for change. I’m not sure exactly what that is, in this gig economy where we pay welfare to billionaires while ordinary Americans go bankrupt over catastrophic medical emergency. And, you know I’m not even planning to give a raise to teachers, or firefighters, or cops, or anyone, but hey, look at the cool gig I scored for my brother. Maybe students have brothers too. Maybe you do. Who knows?

I also know how challenging and stressful it can be, even besides the many difficulties the pandemic has created. That’s why my focus, as Chancellor, is to ensure that we are coming through for you. Except when it comes to paying you money, or having your back when students or supervisors are violent or abusive. Like my sainted grandma used to say, “It’s all part of life’s rich pageant.”

So once again: thank you for the difference you make in the lives of our students and their families, and for the power of the example you set for us all. Also, keep doing it, because I’m sure as hell not doing it.
 

One more thing: this week, we are encouraging New Yorkers to send a note of thanks to the teachers who have made a difference in their lives. After all, who needs money when you have a thank you note? Not only that, but should you see me, I’ll be the first to have someone from my staff offer you a hearty handclasp!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Soaring high on my $363,000 salary,
 

Chancellor David C. Banks

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Mamie M. Arndt