If you’ve ever wondered what an out-of-control educational bureaucracy looks like, New York City is a shining example.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza recently warned of “painful” cuts to the city’s education budget due to COVID-19, but as the New York Post reports, that budget is “still packed with central-office fat.”
An almost-$200,000 chunk of that fat goes to a gent named Barnaby Spring, who holds the title of district “Director of Mindfulness.”
According to the Post, Spring wants to “expand yoga and meditation for students, staffers and execs” because he claims they’re “as important as academics.”
A former teacher and principal, Spring told the site Mindful.org that Carranza “is familiar with the practice of meditation and mindfulness” and “[the DOE] understand[s] the cost-effectiveness of this, almost as a preventive health-care initiative.”
The director has a taste for the good stuff, too:
One of the first steps Spring took as mindfulness director was to forge a partnership with the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which Forbes in November named among “the best meditation retreats in the world.”
Spring helped arrange for top DOE administrators, including principals, managers, superintendents and deputies, to undergo “leadership resiliency training” at the Berkshires retreat.
Surrounded by 100 leafy acres, Kripalu sits on a hilltop with beautiful views of woodlands, valleys and Lake Mahkeenac. The center offers classes as well as massages and facials, overnight accommodations and a cafe featuring salads and a “Buddha Bar” with legumes, grains and vegetables.
“At the beginning, we believed this was an opportunity for our superintendents and our executive superintendents to learn a little bit more about yoga and mindfulness for themselves,” Spring said.
The district sent 30 administrators to Kripalu in 2019 at a cost of $1,900 each from a $111,000 “yoga and mindfulness” training grant. Last school year, the district spent over $100,000 at the center, and $18,000 so far this year.
Spring was an actor prior to becoming a teacher. He taught for six years until he was “excessed’; while working at a Brooklyn field office he befriended Cheryl Watson-Harris, who is now First Deputy Chancellor under Carranza.
The Post says Watson-Harris “hand-picked” Spring for his “Mindfulness” gig. The position was not publicly announced.