I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More Matt Damon Defending Teachers

This is hysterical:



Damon: There's an answer [about how it's not impossible to fire a tenured teacher] from an expert [Damon's mother, a college professor of education who really is an expert] who says that that's not true, and you're not absorbing that information. 

Reason "Reporter": OK, I was in school... she was a teacher, I was in school, so I know... I mean, I'm just as educated as she is. I saw... 

Damon: [amazingly keeping his cool] But you're not.
Again: Matt Damon's mother, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed. D., is a professor of early childhood education:
Nancy Carlsson-Paige is a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University where she has taught teachers for more than 30 years, and was a founder of the University's Center for Peaceable Schools. Since the mid-1980's, Nancy has written and spoken extensively about the impact of violence, especially in the media, on children's lives and social development, and how children learn the skills for caring relationships and positive conflict resolution. She has written five books and numerous articles on media violence, conflict resolution, and peaceable classrooms and schools. Her most recent book is called Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Kids. Nancy is an advocate for policies and practices that promote children's well being and encourage skills and attitudes that further peace and nonviolence.
And yet, according to this "journalist," anyone who has been to school knows as much about education as Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige.

In that spirit, I would like to announce to the following people that I know as much as they do:
  • Paul Krugman, Princeton Professor of Economics: You may have a Nobel Prize, but I've paid in cash.
  • Stephen Hawking, Cambridge Professor of Theoretical Physics: You may have shown that Quantum Physics and General Relativity need to be unified, but I once rode the roller-coaster at Space Mountain.
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Professor of African America Studies at Harvard: Hey, I saw "Roots."
  • Thomas Arthur Steitz, Yale University Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry: Once, when I was a kid, I made this volcano with baking soda and vinegar...
  • Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at MIT: You came up with "The media is the message," but I saw Annie Hall: [I'm an idiot! I meant Marshall McLuhan! Professor at Toronto and Fordham. Duh! I admit, I was just looking for an excuse to post this clip.]

We live in a deeply, deeply anti-intellectual time; no wonder we treat teachers like crap. And no wonder our economy's a mess, the planet is burning up, and stupid people with microphones embarrassing themselves are proliferating on the web.

I really do think our only hope is massive doses of mocking.

(h/t @StoptheFreezeNJ)

24 comments:

dangold said...

Jazzman, I admire you so much and enjoy your blog tremendously. But you've confused Noam Chomsky with Marshall McLuhan.

Anonymous said...

That's hilarious. Can I quote you? "Massive doses of mocking" - sounds like a name for a new band. I bet that stupid journalist is loving her 2 seconds of fame anyway.

Mr. S said...

I played little league, obviously I'm as good as Derek Jeter...I've also driven car so Jeff Gordon and I have the same ability. No one in their right mind would make these claims. I think anti-intellectual is an understatement.

Duke said...

ARRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!

I wanted that Annie Hall clip so badly, but I didn't stop to actually watch it. And we just had McLuhan's centennial!

I deserve opprobrium for screwing up my linguists.

Mrs. G. said...

I read all the Little House Books. Guess that makes me as knowledgeable as anyone with a Phd. In American Histaory.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but the thing is, the reporter was right -- it is very difficult and next-to-impossible to get rid of tenured teachers, while Damon and his mom were lying. Witness all of the LA stories of horrible and abusive teachers who kept their jobs because the process protected them.

Duke said...

Anon:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonie-haimson/factchecking-waiting-for-_b_802900.html

My very own troll. I feel like Atrios!

Anonymous said...

Unresponsive and irrelevant. The issue isn't whether a particular stat in "Waiting for Superman" was correct, nor is it whether some teachers leave BEFORE tenure. The issue is whether it's nearly impossible to get rid of a teacher with tenure.

And it is. No sane person denies that. The Reason interviewer knew it, but her interviewees didn't.

Duke said...

See my next post. Your buds in conservative governments screwed the pooch on thi, but you blame unions.

Again - and this is the last time I'm going to feed you on this - everyone agrees the system needs to be reformed to speed up hearings. No teacher wants bad colleagues.

What we want is due process. You can't have that unless tenure hearings take place outside of the political systems that runs schools.

This is taxpayer and student protection as well as teacher protection. Pointing to an article in the LA Times doesn't change that.

cathybrackett said...

Jazzman - it's funny how people's minds can make such a jump in reasoning. This past April I attended a session of Emergency Manager training in Michigan just to get a "feel" for where our state was heading. When one of the speakers was questioned about a lack of school background the (business)person sitting behind me made the snide comment that "well, he went to school, didn't he?" It was all I could do to keep from turning around and making a scene. Thank goodness I had sensible friends with me who literally held me down in my seat.

Dave White said...

It drives me nuts that people think they know what they're talking about just because they went to school at some point in their lives. It's like me saying "I've been on the phone with businesses before trying to get something done. I know what's going on."

Anonymous said...

Did I blame unions? No. Blame whoever you want, but the fact still remains that it is virtually impossible to fire a tenure teacher, which means that the Reason reporter knew more about the subject than her supposedly expert interviewee.

Anonymous said...

By the way, "troll" doesn't mean "someone who raises arguments that I can't disprove."

PF said...

Above all, why do we consider teaching and the incentives behind people's decision to teach any different than other career choices? Human behavior, regardless of your profession, has demonstrated time and time again when there is no incentive to perform at a high level AND maintain your current pay status, the person will not do so. This is not new and teachers above all should be held the most accountable as their performance coupled with parents shape generations.

I am all for increasing pay, building a more capable teaching corps similar to what has been done in places like Finland, South Korea and the like where teachers are much more valued from a societal perspective. But we cannot replicate that in U.S. kidding ourselves that tenured public school teachers will continue performing at high levels because they inherently want to. It is not fair to our children.

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

Notice to anonymous TROLL, I'm a prominent public education writer and activist in Los Angeles and I've come across several teachers over the years that were terminated after receiving due process protections (tenure). You can contiune to insist that it is a "fact" that it is "impossible to fire a tenure teacher," "virtually" or otherwise, but clearly this issue is now put to bed. Moving on.

While we're glad you occasionally put down The Fountainhead to read Jill Stewart's trashy masseuse and porn ad pennysaver (aka LA Weekly), their yellow journalism doesn't seriously constitute "LA stories of horrible and abusive teachers who kept their jobs because the process protected them."

The reactionary Reason Randite reporter interviewing Mr. Damon made the classic error that all self centered sociopathic libertarians make — she projected her own motivations on to everyone else. It's hard for most of us to understand how a serial killer worshipping, philandering drunk, who wrote pulp stories of fictional right wing heros could ever be considered a philosopher. That said, all Reason fans do. Ms. Rand, started the projection concept, which goes something like this: "I'm selfish, devoid of intellectual curiosity, and can't be motivated without some type of material gain, so everyone else must be that way too."

Hate to break this to you, but not everyone operates like reactionary libertarians. Damon's cogent resonse to the "reporter" took all the wind out of her specious question.

Duke said...

Thanks for that, RDS.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that incoherent rant, he must mean.


The fact that there have been a handful of teachers fired does not disprove the fact that it is indeed virtually impossible. (Virtually means nearly, you know.) It happens once in a blue moon, but not nearly as often as it would in any system that put the interests of children at anywhere near the interest of teachers in having jobs.

Duke said...

Anon: "It's impossible to fire a tenured teacher. VIRTUALLY impossible. Which means almost impossible. Which means possible. But not really. Except it is possible, because it happens.

So when a 30-year professor of education corrects someone who says it's impossible to fire a tenured teacher - which I admit is true, because I just said it's VIRTUALLY impossible - that professor is a liar."

You're great. Stop by any time.

Anonymous said...

She first said it's impossible (ok, not quite true), and then backed off and said, "Come on, it's very difficult, almost impossible."

That latter statement is precisely true. Anyone who says otherwise is delusional. Yes, it's barely possible to fire a tenured teacher for bad teaching once in a great while, but it almost never happens . . . because it's "very difficult, almost impossible."


Do you really not grasp such a simple point?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Matt Damon's mother equally disagreed with the reporter when she said that it's "very difficult." It's Damon's mom who is an ideologue that is bending the truth. She knows damn well that it's very difficult to get rid of a tenured teacher just for being a bad teacher. Heck, as we've seen in LA, a teacher practically has to rape a child on video camera to get fired in some places.

Anonymous said...

And dude, you've been DEFENDING the fact that it is very difficult to get rid of tenured teachers. You can't have it both ways. You can't both defend the extreme difficulty of firing a tenured teacher for incompetence, but also sneer at the Reason reporter for thinking it's very difficult to fire a tenured teacher for incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Hey gang, if you can stomach it, here is an interview with our favorite Reason.TV "reporter," Michelle Fields, about her interview with Matt Damon. Be warned, she speaks with conviction, and even though Matt/his mom aren't experts (according to her), she certainly talks like she thinks she is!

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1096147053001/matt-damons-teaching-moment/

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

Didn't Anonymous Randite Troll proclaim the impossibility of terminating teachers with due process protection?

LAUSD fired 56 tenured teachers in 2010-11 school year

Apparently the real world doesn't align with their right-wing fantasies.

Duke said...

Thx, RDS - gonna use that soon...