Friday, August 03, 2012

Due Process or Dictatorship?

There's a war on Twitter, stoked by Campbell Brown's recycled mish-mosh of NYC tabloid articles in the Wall Street Journal. The new manufactured crisis is that of so-called perv teachers. The only remedy, according to Campbell and the tabloid editorials, is to give Michael Bloomberg's mouthpiece, Dennis Walcott, absolute power to fire teachers who independent arbitrators have sent back to the classroom. Some state senator has proposed a law to enable this.

Walcott now reviews U-rating appeals, and rejects virtually 100% of them, so we have a pretty good idea what he will do if we give him further absolute discretion. Bloomberg and his fellow "reformers" will do anything to have the unfettered authority to fire as many teachers as possible, and that's certainly what this is all about. It follows his failed turnaround, and there's little doubt in my mind this brouhaha is less than coincidental.

This is a very cute plan. If we oppose them, the talking point will be that we defend sex offenders working as teachers. That, in fact, is what Brown's ridiculous headline implied. Of course that isn't true. If you accept as fact the accusations in these cases, perhaps the teachers in question should not have been sent back. Personally, I'm familiar with only one of these cases, and in that case the accusations were total nonsense. Thus, I'm not at all convinced the other cases have any substance either.

The push is for a change in the law, and the rationale being offered is the UFT gets a voice in choosing the arbitrator, who is therefore biased. However, the DOE gets a voice too, so that's ridiculous. If the DOE does not approve of any arbitrators, they ought not to nominate them in the future.

Sex offenders belong in prison, where they can meet others who share their interests. No one wants sex offenders working as teachers. And yet, in the United States, people are innocent until proven guilty. It's unacceptable to make Bloomberg, Walcott, or anyone from DOE judge, jury, and executioner.

And it's incredibly ironic that a push to do this comes from Students First NY, a group set up by Michelle Rhee. Rhee boasted of how she taped her students mouths shut, and told a group this amusing anecdote, chuckling over it. Rhee herself is unfit to teach, let alone lead a movement.

If indeed these arbitrators erred, they ought to be replaced, as judges who make bad judgments ought to be replaced. I've never seen anyone argue that our judicial system made a mistake, and we therefore ought to place all judgment into the hands of a single billionaire, or even a non-billionaire politician.

Yet that's what the paid hacks from Students First are arguing. We've never had a king in these United States, and we don't need one in New York City either. Those who make these arguments do not care about the kids. They care about the tax rates of people like Mike Bloomberg, and depriving our kids of decent jobs when they grow up.

We don't need a dictatorship. We've seen firsthand how dictatorship works in our fake school board, the PEP.

Expanding it is unconscionable and unacceptable.
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