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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Humpty Dumpty

     If you want to know what a word means, you need to ask the people who say it.  As the great philologist Humpty Dumpty taught,
When I use a means just what I choose it to mean-- neither more nor less.
   Ruben Brosbe is a teacher, a blogger, and a member of Educators4Excellence; that last item may explain why he is so confused. In a recent blogpost, Mr. Brosbe reports that he wasn't sure about the meaning of the term "excessed" and "excessing."  Instead of consulting the people who use these terms--the DOE and the UFT, Mr. Brosbe turned to, where he found this definition of the verb  to excess:
to dismiss, demote, transfer, or furlough (an employee), especially as part of a mass layoff. 
As we will soon see, this definition has little to do with the reality in NYC. 

     Let's use the Humpty Dumpty method and see what the DOE and the UFT say about these terms.  Although they disagree about so many issues, these two groups are surprisingly in unison when it comes to defining excessing.  
       Here's the DOE's version:
Staff can be excessed for one or more of the following   reasons: Grade reconfiguration / Reduction in student enrollment / School phase out /  Program change
     Now, the UFT:
There are times when a school reduces the size of its faculty, such as when it experiences an unexpected drop in student enrollment, loses a budget line or is being closed, redesigned or phased out. This is called “excessing.” It is a displacement, but it is quite different from a layoff or a firing.
     Notice: there is nothing in these two definitions about dismissal, demotion, furlough, or layoffs.  That's not what excessing is about, and that's not what happened to those who now find themselves members of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR).  
     Mr. Brosbe, may I introduce you to Mr. Dumpty?  He has a few things to teach you. 

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