Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Why I'm Not Donating to Chalkbeat (And You Shouldn't Either)

For the last few days I've been receiving missives from Chalkbeat NY, nee Gotham Schools, to contribute money. They want me to support the great work they say they're doing. I have actually been following them pretty much since their inception, and I still get their daily Rise and Shine, which I occasionally find useful.

They used to have something called Nightcap, which gave alternate points of view, like blogs, but now it's pretty much all from reformy MSM sources. They used to feature comments on the front page, back when it made a difference what conmmenters thought. And it used to be easy to read, before they instituted their new and largely ponderous format.

I was solicited to write for them. The first piece I did was a report on a PS 123 rally. I reported what the speakers said and was attacked for the speakers being inaccurate. It had not occurred to me that for my salary, nothing whatsoever, I was supposed to investigate their statements. After that, I was subject to the most brutal editing process I've ever experienced. Everything was pretty much gone over with a fine tooth comb, sometimes for the better, but not always.

After battling for months, I submitted this piece. Chalkbeat objected that I'd labeled Cathie Black as billionaire-sponsored, though Michael Bloomberg had appointed her. They objected to my saying TFA favored Ivy diplomas, though at the time they certainly did. I don't recall the third objection, but I do recall that it wasn't even debatable. That was the end of my tenure at Chalkbeat. Truthfully I'm more interested in using my voice, rather than have it watered down to be more acceptable to the reformies.

I later objected when they decided to place a piece about 100 E4E members signing some petition for more work for less pay, or whatever nonsense they were pushing that week. Gotham told me they would happily run a piece if I got 100 signatures. I wrote a petition asking that the ESL students in all schools school have their Regents exams graded by ESL teachers.  This was the policy for schools containing high percentages of ESL students. Although my school had lower percentages than some of these schools, we in fact had higher numbers. I didn't understand, if indeed that was an advantage, why my students weren't entitled to it.

I wrote the petition in five minutes and had 100 signatures within an hour. Just for the heck of it, I added the signatures of most of our School Leadership Team. I submitted it to Chalkbeat. A Chalkbeat reporter called me and we talked. She asked for the name of another teacher who could address it. I gave her one. Then I never heard anything of it again.

I've been to UFT rallies that haven't received mention in Chalkbeat, even though every time Eva Moskowitz blows her nose they report what color Kleenex she used. When I wrote them to complain, they gave me a snide response about how they were giving their reporters the summer off. You know, like us lazy worthless teachers. But this particular lazy worthless teacher was at the Manhattan rally that day, the one Chalkbeat didn't see fit to report. You'd better believe if E4E had a rally it would make the cut.

That's why I'm not giving a dime to Chalkbeat. Instead I made a donation to Class Size Matters, an organization that works for things we believe in (as opposed to things zillionaires want). If you'd like to follow my example, and I very much suggest you do, you can do it right here.
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