My department chair calls me. “The vice-principal will lead the 7:30 meeting.” Bad news. The vice-principal is a narcissist given to dazzlingly incomprehensible rambles.
Much of what went on during the first hour was lost on me. I did catch her reminiscences of New Orleans, as well as her vacation in Vermont. That’s the part I liked. Most of the time, I occupied myself by putting dates in my attendance book.
We get to about a half hour before we’ve got to leave for class. The v. p. says, “OK. We’ve only got a little time — So — Here’s what you guys need to discuss now. You’re going to have an increase in class size, because you’re going to have one less teacher.” We stare at the non-tenured teacher, Ms. Mandel. The v. p. feels what passes in her for sympathy, so she explains, “Given that our senior teacher is out with a nervous breakdown, we have to cut a position. But he has tenure. And the least senior teacher is a Teach For America teacher, Ms. Wong, so she’s cheap. And she’s Chinese. She should teach math. So there’s that.” Ms. Wong is sitting right next to her. Ms. Mandel was last year’s Teacher Of The Year. “Anyway, like I said, all elective classes will be cut. College level classes will have at least 20 or 30 students, this to be fair to the others, who will have 32, the state maximum. There’ll be 150 fewer students next year, so, you know, fewer students means bigger classes. Also, we want accurate grades, but try not to flunk anyone because it makes us look bad. Oh, yea, and we’re going to work the next few Saturdays to prepare the kids for the state test. That and we really want you to have a stress free environment. So have a good day. And now, the reason I called you all together …” At which point, she gives the rest of the half-hour over to a textbook salesman, who appears magically.