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Bureaucracy finds N.Y.C. school system has welcome mat out

Question: How many Board of Education bureaucrats does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Fill this out in triplicate and check back in a month.

That's the level of absurdity facing new schools Chancellor Joseph Fernandez as he delves into bureaucracy and red tape at the New York education headquarters.

According to the Daily News, hundreds of teachers received a memo last year titled, "Proper handwashing."

In seven easy steps, the teachers were reminded that "running water is necessary to carry away dirt and debris," advised to use "a circular motion and friction, for 15 to 30 seconds" and told to "discard paper towels in receptacle."

Fernandez, faced with a system of 950,000 students, 1,000 buildings and a backlog of 33,000 repair requests, asked departments what their urgent needs were.

The director of the Office of Professional Development and Leadership Training said her top priority was a "Concretizing Mission."

A what?

"Capacity building of personnel resources," the director wrote, "and personal abilities of central board of education, districts and school (sic) to facilitate generating vehicles to assist schools in nurturing student achievement ..."


The official, who was not identified in the News story, showed off her abilities as an empire builder when she proposed the creation of a Coalition of Professional Developers to provide help to the schools.

The coalition, she said, would be assisted by District Support Teams. Eventually, the school board could create an Academy of Learning, Teaching, Supervising and Management that would consist of four institutes, including an Institute for Intellectual and Creative Development.

The bottom line: a modest $2-million would pay for the entire lot _ the CPD, the DSTs, the ALTSM and the IICD, as they might eventually be known.

Another priceless piece of paper work came from Public School 140 in the Bronx, whose principal decided to ease congestion in the school office.

Her solution: "Request Form for Permission to Come Behind the Counter in the Main Office." That form was discontinued last year after being ridiculed by the teachers' union.