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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Me and Tom Moran

I wrote an admittedly stinging piece over at Blue Jersey about Tom Moran's hagiographic treatment of David Tepper, the man behind the money behind the corporate reform movement in New Jersey. Moran actually posted a response, and I responded back in kind. You can follow the fun at the link.

I'll admit it: I've been very hard on the guy. And yes, I've been snarky. But it seems to have drawn his attention.

And it's not like he hasn't dished out plenty of the same himself. His reflexive disdain for unions is a constant refrain in his work, and it contrasts starkly with the laurels he throws Tepper's way.

But what bothers me more is how superficially he treats education reform. It actually flows nicely into his anti-union message: if a teachers union is against something, it must be good! Even if it really isn't.

So, yeah, I'm pretty cheesed at Moran and his writing on reform. I expect better from the largest newspaper in New Jersey. But I am willing to engage on the issues and drop the snark - if he will do the same. Which means we should hear a better argument for "reform" coming from the pages of the Star-Ledger than "people want it and the union doesn't!" That's dismissive of the NJEA and facile to boot.

I want to hear Moran explain how he's going to keep the cancer of cronyism oozing from Elizabeth out of the rest of the state if and when tenure is eliminated. I want to know why charter schools are such a panacea when even the operators of the few successful ones admit they can't replicate what they are doing on a large scale. I want to know how he proposes to deal with the Mack truck-sized errors in systems that use standardized tests to evaluate teachers.

And if he's going to try to defend his views with weak arguments, don't look for me to pull any punches. This stuff is deadly serious and I'm not about to sit back and let one of the best education systems in the country be destroyed without pushing back. If you really believe in this stuff, Tom, you'd better bring your A-game.

So: let's talk...

ADDING: I'm with Atrios when he says that newspaper website comments are probably the worst places on the interwebs. But check out the commenters on Moran's articles. I think he's seriously misjudged his readers.


czarejs said...

Jazzman, I just read your comments here and over at Blue Jersey. Sunday morning when I read the S-L. I was infuriated, I ranted to my colleagues and stuggled to put my thoughts into words. Your answers here and at Blue Jersey are brilliant. Thank you for what you are doing. Keep up the great work.

Duke said...

Thank you for all of your great comments - I appreciate the support!

jcg said...

Hi Jazzman, jcg here,
I wanted to post a comment at Blue Jersey but I get repeated error messages when I try to register saying 'invalid security code'. So here's my 2-cents I hope to post over there eventually or you can copy & paste with my permission.

I am so sick of the anti-tenure rant by people who have no clue as to the history of it's existence.

Tenure did not come into existence as some sort of arbitrary protection to give additional power to veteran teachers, it came into existence as a political protection to prevent backlash against teachers who teach controversial texts or ideas. Back in the 40's, 50's and 60's, without tenure, a biology teacher who taught evolution or an English teacher who presented a banned book was at the mercy of the tyranny of the community in which he/she taught. Tenure offered a kind of amnesty - in order to be good, to be effective, teachers need to be FREE to teach content that is dangerous, unpopular, or conflicts with the social norms of their school communities.

Tenure is NOT a protection racket that allows bad teachers to remain. Depriving tenure protections puts all academic free speech into the dictatorial control of corporate oligarchs and government officials.

I live in TN, recipient of Race to the Top bribes and a legislature that has enacted anti-tenure laws that align with Christie and Tepper's notions. Essentially, tenure is impossible to get for new teachers and 85% of our tenured teachers will loose it due to the rigged TEAM/TAP evaluation system. (a rant for another day). Teachers can now be fired for advocating for needed services for students or demanding a smaller class or asking for adequate materials or teaching evolution or insulting the Baptist minister or exposing crony- contractor theft (add your own reason here).

This is what corporate tenure reform means for real: Our public school teachers in Knoxville, TN were told by school supervisors that they were NOT to talk to friends, neighbors, or make public statements critical of the Broad trained superintendent's policies, and if they did, the implication was there would be job action.

Is this how we want our education system to be managed in an allegedly free country? Do we really want to stifle the free speech of academics so that the David Teppers and the Bill Gates and the Chris Christies and the Arne Duncans can use educators to parrot their thoughts and crush dissent?

Tenure reform is not a conversation about improving education, it's about thought control over teachers.

jcg said...

(I can't stop myself...)
We all know that Rupert Murdoch is in the education business.http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/10/jeb-bush-ed-summit-reporter-ejected-murdoch
Imagine if he and his ilk (e.g., hedge fund managers, Bank CEO's, private foundations) manage teachers and our kids like he managed NewsCorp or like Wall Street managed our bail out money or like private investors profiting off of tax breaks and charitable donations to school systems."Private actors who simply take state services over by profiting off of taxpayer money are no different than the government, after all, they're just for-profit government." -- E.D. Kain

Here's Conrad Black expounding on Rupert's character in Huffington Post.
"My admiration for his boldness and acumen and our previous 25 years of more than civil relations make it unpleasant, despite his unspeakable assault on me, to have to conclude that he is, in my personal belief, a psychopath. I think behind his nondescript personality lurks a repressed, destructive malice. His is, and has been proved to be, in some measure, a criminal organization. This, apart from weaknesses of leadership, was always the greatest vulnerability of post-Reagan America's conservatism: its reliance on a man who would put anyone over the side and hoist any colours when the wind changed."

Just the kind of stand-up guy we want making decisions for kids. They so love poor kids that they'll destroy the public schools and teaching profession to save them from 1 poor teacher.

Serenity Now!

John said...

I do not believe it's a mere coincidence that the attempts to dismantle public schools have erupted so strongly in one of the nations leading states for education. Nice article.

Duke said...

jcg, you are on the front lines. As bad as things are in NJ, you teachers in TN are really bearing the brunt.

TN and DE were the first to RTTT recipients - we need to know what's going down in both states. Thx for keeping us up to speed!

John, thx for the kind words.