Saturday, August 05, 2006

NYC Educator's Mailbag

Narda asks:

Is Eva Moskowitz the Antichrist?

Well Narda, here at NYC Educator we kid Ms. Moskowitz, but it's all in good fun. Just because you're a self-serving serial liar, it does not necessarily follow that you're the Antichrist. Let's try not to jump to conclusions.

Sure, she held hearings and labeled unions responsible for all the ills of the city school system. Sure , she ignored the fact that the city actually does all the hiring, chose to use the lowest standard for teachers in the entire state, as well as the fact that the union has no part in rating teachers.

Yes, she ignored the multitude of union schools in Nassau that pay teachers well, are highly selective, and achieve excellence through good teachers and higher standards. And it's certainly true that when NYC had the highest standard for teachers in the state, and the highest pay for teachers in the state, they had the best schools in the state. However, let's not blame Eva for that. All union-busters need us to ignore history.

It is indeed true also that she endorsed a contract that eviscerated all the rights of union employees, and that no union (even ours) would have approved it.

It's also true that she regularly recites falsehoods about the contract (the six-hour forty-minute day, the inability to assign teacher to lunch duty), which she can't be bothered researching, and that she freely misrepresents her school as paying her teachers more. Actually they work more and make substantially less than union employees. She avoids hiring experienced teachers because she would really have to pay them. It's also true that there's no way in hell she wants to run a union shop, and that she wants to become mayor, crush unionism, and help ensure no one in New York City can ever make it to middle class again.

How does that help children? I have no idea. But that's sort of the American way nowadays.

If you read The Chalkboard the day before yesterday (and you should read it every day), you might think that lazy teachers should stop complaining about coming in before Labor Day and go start their own schools. I've no doubt Ms. Moskowitz would heartily endorse this notion. After all, they should count themselves lucky to be working more hours and more days for less than cost of living. Who the hell do they think they are asking to be compensated for more work? No doubt Eva, a driven politician who can't refrain from mentioning her desire to be mayor when ostensibly discussing her school, works 200 hours a week.

I know many working teachers, though, who have their own children to care for, and who did not actually go into teaching to become entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial streak, in fact, is rare among teachers. People who went into teaching expecting to become rich, I'd posit, are so poorly informed they'd make poor teachers, and I wouldn't buy stock in their charters. Of course some teachers could run their own schools, and do it very well. I'd say, though, it would be preferable for them to make such decisions on their own.

As for Eva, being a union-buster does not precisely make her Satan. You're right--listening to her, you'd think the city's thirty-year teacher shortage and inability to retain staff were the result of too little work for too much pay. And sure, she spells like Dan Quayle. But no, that doesn't specifically make her the Antichrist.

Sure, here at NYC Educator, we kid, we kid. But let's not get carried away.

Thank you, Narda, for your excellent question, and please feel free to write anytime.
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