Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stereotypes Ahoy

That's what I see in New York Magazine, and ironically, it's in a column that calls itself "Intelligencer."  But the intelligence is lacking on multiple levels.  The column almost revels in teachers being stereotyped and reviled, calling them the "new lawyers."   While this column came out in early July (before the state acknowledged its inflated scores), it asserts, " test scores have been encouraging."

They were only encouraging, of course, if you didn't read Diane Ravitch, whose BS detector had identified the problem at least three years ago.  I suppose you could forgive the so-called Intelligencer for going with the mainstream myth, incorrect though we knew it to be, but then he goes and says this:

Bloomberg’s chancellor, Joel Klein, got teachers’ pay tied to test scores in exchange for pay raises.  

That's patently incorrect.  First of all, pay is not tied to test scores.  No such exchange was made.  Test scores became part of ratings as a result of a deal UFT President Michael Mulgrew made in Albany.  Up to 40% of teacher ratings can be tied to test scores (and UFT reps proudly boasted how much better it was than the deal Weingarten crafted in Colorado, which went to 50%).

Nonetheless, that statement reveals the "Intelligencer" doesn't bother reading the local papers.   The writer continues:

Then a funny thing happened. Klein’s talking points went national...

If you've read Diane Ravitch's book, you know these notions didn't originate with Klein, but this writer, clearly hasn't, and can't be bothered to find out where these ideas originated.  The most offensive determination this writer makes is this conclusion:

The teachers are trapped. The more they defend themselves, the more recalcitrant they seem. It’s permanent detention. 

This is the sort of thinking that's kept people sitting down and shutting up since time immemorial.  And anyone who follows history, even in the most cursory fashion, knows that common people have never accomplished anything with such thinking.  It's reminiscent of the racist rationale, "The bad ones spoil it for the good ones."

It's certainly an uphill battle for us nowadays, with not only Bill Gates, Wal-Mart, Eli Broad, and other heavily moneyed interests lined up against us, but also the President and some of our own leaders openly collaborating with them.  The writer of that article shows no evidence he's even heard of these folks.

Should teachers keep their mouths shut so as not to appear "recalcitrant?"  Or would that be dereliction of duty?
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