Lisa Cruz Diaz was removed from her position as principal of P.S. 31 in the Bronx for falsifying overtime sheets to the tune of nearly $5,000. The real amount stolen would be much more if this was something Ms. Cruz did over the long haul.
I wish I could get worked up into a self-righteous lather about Ms. Cruz betraying tax-payer trust. The truth is, what Ms. Cruz did is nothing compared to the systemic corruption that occurs inside and outside Bloomberg’s Department of Education. Eva Moskowitz gets paid over $300,000 a year for destroying inner-city public schools. Trillions in tax dollars bailed out sleazy CEOs who led the economy off of a cliff. Pardon me for being desensitized to the type of petty malfeasance committed by Ms. Cruz.
Yet, there is something in this story to get worked up over. It seems principals in New York City can sexually harass their staffs, fudge student transcripts and try to destroy teachers based on personal vendettas with no repercussion at all. Their leadership can be so odious that hundreds of people from the school and community, especially students, show up to protest. They can do things that endanger the well-being and futures of children and face no consequences.-
The message is clear: the way a principal treats people does not matter. The way a principal treats money does.
This is the lesson children in NYC schools are learning. Principals are objects of mystery and fear to children. They may not see their principals every day but they know he/she runs the building and gets paid a hefty salary to do it. The principal’s voice may occasionally crackle over their school’s public address system, a disembodied voice of authority and power. In short, principals occupy a very important place in the lives of children. They are the first leaders children know.
The DOE’s principal policy sends the message that leadership is not about treating people fairly. In fact, it does not matter how you treat people at all. Creating a healthy environment where everyone can flourish is not even part of the job description. No, just take care of the money. Violating the public’s trust over their money is the worst thing you can do.
At the same time, the DOE can spend millions on charters run by politically connected people like Eva Moskowitz. They can bring in “consultants” who pull enormous salaries just because their uncles or sisters work at Tweed (The DOE’s central building which has always been, and continues to be, a bastion of old-fashioned New York City political cronyism). Ms. Cruz lost her position not because she was corrupt, but because she was the wrong type of corrupt.
These are the lessons children in New York City are learning. Money over people. The job of the leader is to ensure that the corruption in the system works in only one way. Not everyone can profit from the gravy train; only those with the right connections. Outside of that, people in power can do what they want.
So kids, if you have a personal vendetta with someone in the cafeteria, try to get some power when you grow up. You will be able to use it to destroy anyone you want. Nobody will ever cross you again. If you like the opposite sex, you can use your power to harass as many of them as you want. Nothing is out of bounds when dealing with the people you lead; just watch what you do with the money.
This is corporate school reform.