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, February 29, 2012

Logical, Vile Consequences

This Sunday, right after the (error-prone, unreliable, demoralizing, result-of-a-broken-promise) NYC teacher ratings came out, the vile NY Post published a hit piece on one of the "lowest rated" teachers in the city.

I refuse to provide a link to this disgusting piece of filth, and I have no problem violating copyright laws and the normal ethics of blogging by reprinting the entire thing below (with the teacher's and parents' names removed):
The city’s worst teacher has parents at her xxx school looking for a different classroom for their children.
Xxx Xxx, a tenured $xx,xxx-a-year educator at xxxx, ranked among the very bottom out of more than 12,000 fourth- through eighth-grade math and English teachers citywide.
“I need to speak to the guidance counselor and switch my daughter to another class or change the teacher,” said xxx.
“Every parent expects their children to grow up smart, and it takes a competent teacher for that to happen.
“My next duty is to find out from the guidance counselor what is going on with this teacher.” 
Another parent whose son graduated last spring from the same school was outraged that xxx cannot be fired for low ratings.
“I think she should be out,” said xxx. “Let her go, and take the money, her salary and give it back to the school — they need the money.”
Accompanying this article was a picture of the teacher. No, really.

First, let's acknowledge the despicable "journalism" standards of the Post, reporter Georgett Roberts, editor Col Allan, publisher Paul Carlucci, and the truly odious CEO of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch. Going after a teacher, publishing her salary next to her picture, and speaking to parents behind her back - destroying any chance of a successful partnership between them and their children's teacher - is one of the lowest things I have ever seen a newspaper do. I hope the wads of cash these dirtbags stuff down their pants every day help to soothe their miserable, corrupted souls - but I doubt it.

Second: "the city's worst teacher"? We know this this because of a standardized test? Do I really have to provide a link to the research on this, or can we all just agree that there is simply no way to determine the worth of a teacher solely on the basis of her students' bubble test scores?

Next: hey, Joel Klein, Mike Bloomberg, and Chris Cerf - what the hell did you fools expect? That papers like the Post would show restraint? On the basis of what - their stellar record of journalistic ethics? Did you really believe they would take the time to really to follow Generalissimo Mike's reformy advice?
Bloomberg stressed that the ratings are only one factor in determining teacher effectiveness.
"It's just one data point and there's lots of data points," Bloomberg said.
"We first developed the reports to try to get some kind of an honest assessment of what people do and find ways to help the teachers," he said. "Keep in mind, we want every teacher to succeed."
He said teachers who weren't up to par would have a chance to improve.
"If they're not, you don't want to get rid of them," he said. "You want to help them them get the training they need so they can do the job. If they can't, then there's no question what you have to do."
Oh, is that what you call the Post's story, Mr. Mayor? Did this teacher "have a chance to improve" before she was smeared all over the pages of Murdoch's filthy rag? Did she "get the training she needed" before the Post and you - and, yes, you are complicit in this - ruined her relationship with her students' parents? I know you are completely out of touch with your constituents at this point, but are you so obtuse as to not understand that this sort of crap was the inevitable result of releasing this data?

And you, ACTING NJ DOE Commissioner Cerf: you were the one who promised NYC's teachers this data would never be released publicly. Why should any teacher in New Jersey believe you now? What assurance could you possibly give at this point to New Jersey's teachers that they won't suffer the same fate?

For that matter, let me ask Chicago's teachers: do you think Rahm Emanuel will fight to stop this sort of garbage? How about Rick Scott in Florida? Scott Walker in Wisconsin? John Kasich in Ohio? Andrew Cuomo in New York? Bobby Jindal in Louisiana? With the possible exception of Jerry Brown in California, who out there is going to stand up for their state's or city's teachers and demand that this never be allowed to happen on their watch? And what about you, Mr. President? Are you OK with this?

Or do you - like Bloomberg - like the idea of publicly humiliating teachers this way? Do you all get a secret thrill from sticking it to a middle-class, unionized public worker? Is this what motivates all of your careers - or do you maybe aspire to something a little bit higher? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

Next: the press. How do you feel about the story above? Do you think it's fair? Would you point proudly to this sort of "journalism" as important enlightenment for parents and the public? I know many of you look down your noses at the Post, but what have you done in your own reporting that will keep parents who read your work from reacting the same way the parents above did? Do you really think this is all a matter of style?

There is nothing good that can come from this disgusting incident - but maybe we can learn something. The teachers in NYC were told this data was meant to help them. Their reformy bosses told the teachers that they only wanted to make them better; it was all for the kids, you see.

Bull. This was the logical, vile consequence of policies that attempt to place blame for society's ills on teachers. And there is no reason for any teacher to assume good faith on the part of corporate reformers until laws are put into place that ensure this will never, ever happen again.

ADDING: Diane Ravitch has much more.

ADDING MORE: An update on this story, h/t Darcie Cimarusti.


Mother Crusader said...

I am sure you have already seen this, but reading it made me at least feel a bit better. I cried when I read that she came back to work to a standing ovation from her colleagues and that her principal sang her praises (crap, I'm crying again just typing this...)


Where is people's outrage that a teacher that nurtures some of our most vulnerable students was man-handled this way?

TIM said...

Jazzman, Thank you!
You are doing your part.

What about the rest of the us! Stand Up, Speak Up, and Get involved! Ask not for whom the bell tolls...


Deb said...

We have a DumpDuncan petition out there. Time to start a Can Cerf one?

Pete Zucker said...

The Post is a disgusting rag of a paper. It is too disgusting to let my cat crap on it. Sadly, there are stupid people in this world that have no ability to use critical thinking skills to see through the bullshit of the TDR's