Monday, October 12, 2020


 Back when I was at Jamaica High School, there were always classes for the Long Term Absentee students. We called them "phantom classes" because they had listed as their room the assistant principal's office and there were never any students there attending class. The only exception was when one of the LTA's came back to school in which case he/she would show up at the AP's office and get a real program for real classes. 

In the current NYC blended learning environment created by Bill de Blasio, Richard Carranza, and Michael Mulgrew, we now have schools that soon will be approaching the status of "phantom schools" as there are so few students in attendance. Sue Edelman wrote about this in a NY Post article the other day. She called some NYC schools ghost towns.

In-person attendance at some Big Apple schools is so low, instead of students, teachers expect to see tumbleweeds rolling down the hallways, staffers told The Post.

Three weeks after Mayor de Blasio trumpeted the reopening of schoolhouse doors to kids from 3-K to high school, the city Department of Education refuses to publicly report any daily attendance data.

But insiders working in largely deserted buildings revealed last week just how bad attendance has become.

“Ghost town is definitely the right word for it,” a Brooklyn high school teacher said. “It’s very quiet.”

The teacher said only a handful of students — if any — show up daily for class. But it’s not the kind of class de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza have touted.

The few students in the room log onto laptops or iPads for lessons broadcast to the majority of kids in the class — remotely. One teen who lacks a device takes the class on his cell phone.

“It makes the mayor feel good about himself to say the schools are open, while kids literally shiver in rooms, bored and isolated, in front of screens,” the teacher said.

Sue goes on to give other examples. She even cites an elementary school.

At the Fresh Creek School, PS 325, in East New York, a staffer told The Post the 200-student school had only 10 kids show up on Sept. 30, the second day of in-person classes, and 12 on Oct. 1.

“This is disgraceful,” the staffer said, calling the presence of two administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals “wasteful.”

Crystal Lewis has a similar article in the Chief Leader.

Our friend UFT Solidarity leader Lydia Howrilka, who teaches at Clara Barton High School, is featured in this piece.

The first day of classes turned out to be the last time Ms. Howrilka went to school—soon after, she began experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus, including a fever, a loss of taste and smell, body aches and fatigue. Although a rapid COVID test came up negative, she has been quarantining at home.

Unbalanced Class Sizes

A myriad of issues have also come up because of blended-learning, including a Teacher shortage. Ms. Howrilka said the largest class she taught in-person was six students. “Meanwhile, other Teachers have 40 students in their online classes, which is above contract,” she said. “If we went fully remote, we could share the load, and make things more equitable.”

Lydia has applied for an accommodation to work from home. Remote teaching would make sense since most of the students are learning remotely but so far, even though she is part of the lawsuit that she inspired and she has worked hard for so many others to get accommodations, she has not yet succeeded in getting an accommodation.

She sent this to me earlier today:


My colleagues who are teaching remote are seeing their classes grow as more parents pull their kids out of hybrid learning and my hybrid classes are shrinking. I have lost so far 5 kids from my hybrid classes (5 kids across 5 sections when you have sections no bigger than 6 kids is very substantial)

This kid is a likable child too. She stands up for herself, she's the mother hen who teaches younger siblings at home, and she wrote the most badass email to the AP for programming when her schedule was changed 3 times over 2 weeks.

I wish Lydia the best for a speedy recovery. Lydia's class size of six is not unusual. I actually know someone who has phantom classes where no students are present most days and this teacher tells me it is not unusual.

It's still the same old, same old at the DOE. Games and politics first with students and teachers last always.

There are three people who are most responsible for this mess in staffing and unbalanced class sizes: Bill de Blasio, Richard Carranza, and their great enabler: Michael Mulgrew. 

I dedicate "Ghost Town" by the Specials to these three giants of blended learning educational malpractice.


Anonymous said...

On a good day, we see 15 students in the building.

Jeff said...

Close the buildings, dont hire 10k teachers, dont hire nurses, save the money, give us retro owed to us now

Anonymous said...

this has to be hs level. my elementary school has 12 kids per class every class, every day showing up- which is great

Anonymous said...

If you are a blended teacher, this is not a bad thing. The fewer students in the building, the less likely the virus will spread. All the focus in the city should be to control the spread of the virus going into the cold weather.

Anonymous said...

My school has under 10 students per day in buikding while my remote attendance is around 20%. Nobody is attending class yet our grad rate is high. Lol.

Anonymous said...

Remember if it makes sense, the doe does the opposite.

James Eterno said...

What school 5:37?

Anonymous said...


Such a good point!

I’m convinced they actually use that line of thinking.

Erica said...

I send the media my attendance daily. It also goes to james, UFT, chancellor, mayor...Since they wont release it.

Anonymous said...

They are not showing up. If 3 or 4 in a classroom are parked on laptops anyway so their teacher can teach the 25 that are remote, what is the point. They are making teachers do everything so in person is remote anyway. They are still on zoom.

Anonymous said...

5:37: It depends on the school and what grade level.

Anonymous said...

Hospitalizations increase in New York amid second COVID-19 spike

Anonymous said...

At least the CSA took a vote of no confidence against deBlasio. Mulgrew teams up with him to screw us. I’m retired, but if you are still going into these filthy buildings to babysit you’re nuts. You owe nothing to anyone, especially DeBlasio and Mulgrew.

Anonymous said...

csa got their retro in august.....not a peep. and u wonder why they shut up and went into buildings.

Educat said...

Nice trick by Mulgrew-
Panic the membership by declaring the retro money was denied, then play hero by getting half of it back. Its clear now he had a secret backdoor deal with the pothead mayor to only pay us half in October. Hence the non-arbitration, and the lie telling us we "reached a deal" Only someone who has real contempt for his members would pull such a trick.

Anonymous said...

The CSA got their retro in August?! WTF! How come DeBlasio didn’t refuse to pay them? DeBlasio and Mulgrew needs a vote of no confidence now.

Anonymous said...

The retro CSA got was not the same retro. That was retro for the new contract. The CSA retro that's equivalent to UFT's retro doesn't get released until February.

Anonymous said...

Here is the interesting issue to ponder....What happens when ALL THE KIDS come back into the school buildings?? Long after Covid19 is gone and students flow into city school buildings will staff be able to adjust to the craziness again?
Right now the school buildings are the way they should be quiet learning centers. The way they were? Zoology up and down the halls...loud noises, garbage everywhere especially in the fighting, screaming, hanging out in the hall and doing all kinds of stuff from sex to smoking in the buildings...parents waiting in the lobby to meet with staff for appointments, kids going into counseling offices, kids our for lunch,,kids having lunch in the lunch room where noise levels reach airport runway levels.

Anonymous said...

What about grade fraud and the fact that students can no show remote classes after mayor and chancellor swore that they would get live instruction everyday...And then pass every class?

Anonymous said...

I totally get the issue of getting a passing grade for signing on.i would like to think this was well-intentioned considering the situation.we were suddenly, without warning, tumultuously thrown into remote mode and nobody had training.many didnt have devices nor internet.Imho. it would have been unfair and discriminatory to hold anyone to standards, both staff and student.we were thrown underwater and had to find our way put.we never prepared children fh or this.i am glad that anyone who made an attempt to learn despite the hardships was not penalized.yes. I know, it is not fair that people who worked hard got the same as those who did little.but unfortunately, the system was not prepared fh or other...still, students have non-working devices and cant get on google clsrm, cant get help from tech support..the doe should have focused on tech support, training, improving the platforms, and bf and width, etc...they could have ironed out the glitches for the fall instead of having a failure.i heard that a district in PA started playing the groundwork for successful remote instruction last January early on.when the time came to go remote. It was a smoother transition.ny was shortsighted(not Trump's fault) and stubborn, so we failed.but not fair to penalize kids who try and are limited through no fault of their own.

Tom said...

@12:48 - Damn - where do you work? I'd have to find another job.

Anonymous said...

Susan Edelman

No grading system, no attendance figures, no high-school application schedule, no results of a parent survey on remote learning promised months ago.
has no answers, but says all will come in the "days and weeks" ahead.

Anonymous said...

It's really a shame. The kids at home are rocking. The remote aspect is really much better and in my home town my wife and I are keeping our kids home because the teachers finally "got it". The remote learning is working. The terrible part is this hybrid model where a few kids come in to empty classrooms and halls and work on a laptop all day. It's really insane. the kids at home are outperforming the kids at school. If the mayor etc. really cared, they would axe this absurd model and just go remote. This hybrid thing is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

There is also a phantom staff. Our Admin does not allow it to be discussed whether a staff person is on zoom from the school building or from home, whether they ever enter the school building or whether all those knocks on their door are just a fool's rapping. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a futuristic horror movie.

TJL said...

7:02 I'm happy for you but here the remote attendance is about 10% and no work is being done. Almost all the motivated students are in school learning.

As for phantom staff 11:38, add phantom admin. They tried to get away with a remote IPC! Not to mention Consultation on Zoom! Absolutely not!