Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Vilifying Teachers R Us

What can you say about the New York Post? Well, as I tread through the various articles on the perfidy of teachers, I don't much wonder what its readers must think of us. Clearly, when they read articles like this one, they must figure we're all in the rubber rooms having a party 24-7 at maximum salary.

An astute reader pointed out the article claims the teacher in question has "about 435" days in his sick bank. First of all, why "about?" Were they too busy to check?

Second, were the figure accurate, it would seem to indicate this man had not taken a day off in 43.5 years. That could represent true dedication. In reality, the maximum number of sick days one's allowed to accumulate in the wonderland that is the NYC Department of Education is 200--so the reporter appears to be indulging in something else entirely.

Perhaps there truly was no time for rudimentary fact checking that day, though personally, I fail to see why this particular story was so time-sensitive it couldn't have waited. But the readers of the New York Post don't know that. What else have they got wrong?

Who knows? Who cares?

They've made their point. And I'm sure they'd write a story about you, me, and scores of other teachers based on misinformation, hearsay and unsubstantiated allegations too, if it gave them one more chance to bash the contract--the one we don't even have.

If this guy is really guilty of abuse, he deserves whatever he gets. However, this is still America, and I could've sworn I heard something in civics class, long ago, about being innocent until proven guilty. I believe it has its roots in British law, and I recall reading in Rumpole of the Bailey that the presumption of innocence was the "golden thread" that ran through their entire legal system.

Perhaps New York Post reporters didn't get the memo.

Related: on the ICE blog

Thanks to Paul Rubin
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