I was pleasantly surprised to see a strong article in the Queens Chronicle where Unity Chapter Leader Adam Bergstein has many strong quotes critical of Forest Hills Principal Ben Sherman and Superintendent Juan Mendez.
It has been many years since I have seen a chapter leader from Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus speak this forcefully against a principal. The staff voted 195-21 no confidence in Principal Sherman last week.
From the Chronicle:
Adam Bergstein, United Federation of Teachers chapter president of Forest Hills High School, said he heard from many different people in the school.
“The concerns were brought to me from every different constituency in the building and I mean, administration ... teachers were fed up and overwhelmed and disgusted, the aides in the building, students,” he said.
Bergstein added, “Ninety percent of the staff feel as though the principal is incapable of managing Forest Hills High School and, or maintaining the building at the level it’s been at for decades.”
A history teacher is also quoted who adds to what the Chapter Leader says:
“There’s pot almost every day,” a history teacher said. “And usually it’s the students smoking in the bathrooms or the stairwells. He doesn’t have a policy anymore for getting kids to class and not being late like the previous principal did.”
One teacher said Sherman indicated marijuana is legal in many states and would soon be in New York.I think he’s just incapable of making decisions from representatives within the building,” Bergstein said. “I think because he’s had a small building for over a decade and he doesn’t know how to run or operate a large high school, he’s just a fish out of water and he lacks that skill set and ability.”
Back to Adam:
Bergstein said there were complaints during the 2017-18 school year but the hopes that things would improve this year quickly disappeared.
“We were hoping that the principal would take suggestions, advice, recommendations from unions, from deans, from administration and implement some of these changes to alleviate the concerns and we picked up in September where we left off last school year and things just deteriorated from bad to worse,” he said.
And even more:
Bergstein said the no confidence vote was a result of safety concerns, noting there wouldn’t be a vote just because teachers and administrators don’t like Sherman’s style or philosophy.
“He’s a graduate of the Leadership Academy and those people are just some of the most horrendous principals to walk the Earth,” Bergstein said.
He added that he believes Sherman would be helped by taking the advice of others into account.
“He makes unilateral decisions,” Bergstein said. “Instead of taking into account what people have been doing in the building or recommend doing in the building for years, he just goes ahead with what I guess he deems his gut or what he believes will work. And he is clearly incapable of handling that kind of situation.”
Saul Gootnick retired as principal in December 2016 and Anthony Cromer served as acting principal until Sherman was brought in a few months later.
Bergstein believes Sherman was the pick of Queens High Schools Superintendent Juan Mendez.
“I honestly believe it was with the intent to shake things up and disrupt the school environment for some reason,” Bergstein said.
He added, “It’s sad that the DOE seems to have gone out of their way to disrupt a high school with a sterling reputation.”
Great work Adam and History Teacher.
Here is my question after reading this piece:
Why isn't it in the UFT's NY Teacher?