That appeared in GothamSchools a few days ago. Not only did it suggest no layoffs, but it appeared under the heading "Bullet Dodged." In all fairness, the reporter had no way of knowing Mayor Bloomberg had misled the public about his layoff intentions. Even though he'd lied in the past, even though he'd called revoking term limits "disgusting" before having them revoked, even though he'd blatantly violated the Taylor Law by unilaterally announcing the terms of a contract without specifically mandated negotiation, there was truly no way for the Gotham reporter to know just how disingenuous he was being at that particular moment.
In fact, no less than the New York Times had just praised Mayor Bloomberg for making a "sensible choice." They had no issue with his flagrant disregard for law, and their headline read "Jobs Saved: 4400." If the venerable New York Times, with all its resources, couldn't determine Bloomberg would change his mind three days later, how would one single reporter from GothamSchools figure it out?
However, the Gotham headline was still shocking--it conjured images of the Chancellor getting to know teachers. I found this hard to accept, as his years of vilifying us and our unions suggest he hates us and everything we stand for.
The article went on to point out that actually he was meeting a more selective group, "Educators 4 Excellence," some young teachers who specifically want senior teachers fired, on the premise that they may not be as good as new teachers. These teachers appear to trust the judgment of serial liars Klein and Bloomberg to make these determinations. Or perhaps they simply assume their asses will be covered if seniority goes down the tubes.
They have good reason to believe they'd survive non-seniority-based layoffs--Klein went and specifically praised one of them for going to the Grand Canyon, so you know they wouldn't feel the wrath of their new drinking buddy. (Perhaps when they become older, if their activism subjects them to being fired at the whims of autocrats like Bloomberg and Klein, they won't have families to support, they won't need health insurance, and they won't have bills to pay, so it won't matter al all.)
The thing that really gave me pause was the "point of clarification" at the end of the piece. "Clarification" is a funny word. I always remember Mayor Bloomberg, after having promised to get rid of trailers by 2012, then clarifying to say he would not get rid of trailers. This "clarification" explained while this faux-grassroots group was called "entirely unfunded," its website was actually paid for by Education Reform Now, the same front group that funded the faux-grassroots commercials urging people not to listen to the teachers' union. The English teacher in me suggests the word "correction" is more in order. (Sharp Miss Eyre, on simply seeing the website, suggested they had extra funding months ago.)
The group's co-founder attempts to change the subject by saying he paid for the party himself. This, of course, comes well after it was falsely reported to be "entirely unfunded," and I've seen no previous attempt on the part of this individual to make that correction publicly. So--was Gotham misled by the fake-grassroots group? Or was the reporter simply making an assumption based on the info the fake-grassroots group failed to report?
In any case, after that admission, far more newsworthy than the cutesy headline, comes this:
Stone told me today that he and Morris have only begun to look for outside funding for the group...
It's kind of incredible, after having specifically revealed that the group had already received outside funding, that anyone could seriously entertain the notion it had "only begun" to look for it, let alone report it with no hint of irony. Even more incredible is the notion that this group, sitting there with uber-"reformer" Joel Klein, would have to struggle in any way whatsoever to get funding. What with the hedge-fund managers that have already funded them, it's not very tough to figure out where more money will come from. Plenty of billionaires and hedge fund managers are ready and willing to throw money at causes that weaken union and hurt working people.
If you want to see a real grassroots group, take a look at GEM. Agree with them or not, but they are upfront with their agenda, and have no hedge fund managers pulling their strings. When's the last time you saw a feature about GEM anywhere? Personally, I'd like to see one at the New York Times, at GothamSchools, and everywhere else, and soon.
As for my headline, these teachers may not be thugs. But they're most certainly doing the bidding of moneyed interests, whatever else they may believe.