Teaching, people often say, is not a desk job. And it is not unknown for teachers to complain that they are on their feet all day.
But at one New York school, these cliches of the profession have become the literal truth.
On Friday, Donna Connelly, an elementary-school principal in the Bronx, ordered her teachers to give up their desks, telling them that she did not want them sitting in the classroom.
The principal of PS24, the Spuyten Duyvil School, told teachers to empty their filing cabinets, and then push their desks and cabinets into the hallway.
With lessons still in progress, teachers had to empty their paperwork into cardboard boxes. School caretakers then took the furniture outside and piled it up in the road.
“It’s the 21st century – you don’t need desks,” Ms Connelly said, according to reports in the New York Post.
Though no chairs were taken, the principal also told her staff that she did not want them sitting in the classroom. Asked where teachers should grade papers, she said that they should use the lunch room.
Staff then set up a Facebook page to express their dismay at what had happened. This was quickly deleted. However, the New York Post reported that comments included: “Thirty years in the system and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Other teachers complained that the school was overcrowded, and quiet spaces such as the library and reading room were always full. They also said that the school did not provide staff with computers, as an alternative to using filing cabinets.
After the story circulated on the internet, the district superintendent ordered that the desks be removed from the street and taken to the school’s basement.
Today it was announced that the desks would be returned to the classrooms. School parents have said that they will bring up the principal’s decision for discussion at a parents’ association meeting this week.