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

Friday, June 28, 2013

Congratulations Gary Rubinstein and Arthur Goldstein!

Last week, the eldest Jazzboy graduated from one of New Jersey's pubic high schools: you know, the schools of which Education Commissioner Chris Cerf says:
This data “will make clear that there are a number of schools out there that perhaps are a little bit too satisfied with how they are doing when compared with how other schools serving similar populations are doing."
The Jazzboy's own high school is so overhyped that he will be attending one of the top dozen research universities in the country this fall; many of his classmates will also be attending extremely competitive colleges and universities, including several Ivy-pluses.

So, once again: nice job bad-mouthing our kids and our schools, Chris. You're one hell of a morale booster...

Anyway, we had about ten thousand relatives and friends drop by for the big day, and then a ridiculously huge party after graduation. Between that and work, I had no time: which is my lame excuse for missing this year's Skinny Awards, presented each year by the good folks at Class Size Matters to outstanding journalists and other writers who cover the New York City schools.

Normally, I wouldn't have missed this, because two of my favorite bloggers won the award this year: Gary Rubinstein and Arthur Goldstein. Arthur might be the funniest teacher-blogger out there (don't make me choose between him and EduShyster) - he's certainly the most sardonic. Years of watching the Gotham elite smack down teachers has given Arthur a finely honed sense of snark, which he uses to great effect:

State Senator Ruben Diaz Makes His Ignorance and Bigotry a Priority for All

State Senator Ruben Diaz believes you should be very careful before assigning guilt when he's involved. Yet it's different for teachers, who are all guilty no matter what.

In fact, because he reads all the crap in the Daily News and believes it, or at least thinks impressionable voters do, he's introducing legislature to "ban sex creeps from school property--not just the classroom." Those are the thoughtful words of some ace reporter from the Daily News who clearly does not wish to prejudice readers in any way.

One wonders what line a reporter has to cross to be guilty of libel, and which junior high school student they've enlisted to aid in the composition of their always-evolving juvenile epithets. However, I suppose names like "pervy," "sicko," and "sex creep" do not cross that line. The News gives itself credit for this genius Senator's move, saying it came in the wake of their series of stories, which are indeed a repeat of a series it ran last year or so.
Remind me to never get on Arthur's bad side.

Gary has become known as the Jiminy Cricket of Teach For America, speaking inconvenient truths to the organization when few others will:
As someone who is, I suppose, a big “friendly critic” (an expression TFA coined as the need to describe the growing number of frustrated alumni) of TFA, I think the biggest problem with TFA is all the lying.  Though the individual people I’ve known on staff aren’t huge liars, themselves, the sum of all the lies add up to an organization whose lying is pathological.  Really, they’ve elevated the art of lying to new heights, much the way Mozart elevated the concerto.  Even people like Bernie Madoff who thought they were great liars can’t help but marvel at TFAs techniques.
For me, though, I think Gary's greatest contribution may be his data analysis pieces. His takedown of the Gates MET's use of "binning" to sell the lie of reliability in test-based teacher evaluations is the best explanation I've seen on this important topic. Gary is what reformers fear most: an actual teacher who understand statistics and can write.

So my apologies to both Arthur and Gary for missing the ceremony (and my thanks to Darcie Cimarusti for covering the event). Please accept my belated congratulations. You both set a high standard for the rest of us to aspire to, and your work is invaluable both in and out of NYC.

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