Principals are furious that the teachers union bargained away two of the most important work days of the school year, according to principals union president Ernest Logan. But teachers union president Randi Weingarten says Logan shouldn’t complain, because he hasn’t come up with a better plan.

“My members are livid,” Logan said about the agreement that would have teachers and students reporting to school on the same day for the first time this fall.

Principals use the two teacher work days at the beginning of the school year to finalize schedules, register new students, set up classrooms, get staff members on the same page about discipline and curriculum, and integrate new teachers into the community, he said. “When are we going to do all of that if everybody’s popping in there the same day?” Logan asked.

Logan said he first heard about the agreement at 6:05 a.m. today on NPR, which he was listening to while shaving. “I almost cut myself,” he told me. “Nobody used common sense here. The educators did not make this decision.”

The decision to have students and teachers start school on the same day was Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s preference, according to Weingarten. The agreement would allow Klein to decide to move the first day of school later, she said. 

“But it is surprising that the [Council of School Administrators] would wait until now, at the end of the process, to blame the UFT for finding a way to save the city money when they have been totally absent in the fight to save our school system from budget cuts this year,” Weingarten said.

Logan told me he has asked the chancellor to explain how schools should handle the schedule change but has not yet heard back. A good option, Logan suggested, would be for students’ first day of class to be moved two days later. If the city’s goal was to reduce the number of days teachers work, it could have given up requiring teachers to report on days when schools are closed to students, such as Election Day, he said. Or the school year could end for teachers two days earlier, he offered.

Here is Weingarten’s complete statement:

This agreement was born out of a need to create savings for the city, and it was the chancellor’s preference that students and teachers return on the same day. The chancellor could make a different decision later because the agreement says the first day after Labor Day may be an instructional day, but it doesn’t have to be. But it is surprising that the CSA would wait until now, at the end of the process, to blame the UFT for finding a way to save the city money when they have been totally absent in the fight to save our school system from budget cuts this year.