Monday, August 07, 2017

Reformy Chalkbeat Doubles Down on ATRs, Informs Readers It Knows Nothing

In yet another article, reformy Chalkbeat ponders the issues involved with the ATR. Naturally, they don't bother to interview an actual ATR, because what value could that possibly have? As usual, the experience of the people living through this particular social experiment is given not a single word. After all, why should they talk to working teachers when Students First and others pay people to spout The Gospel According to Gates and Walmart, both of whom fund Chalkbeat?

The first question Chalkbeat has is about the average number of years an ATR teacher has. Naturally, they bring up the cost of the ATR so their readers and funders can deplore it and call for their heads. Then it cites seven-year-old figures, because why bother digging for new ones? And why bother talking to ATR teachers and reflecting on their experience? If they were to do that, they might as well be education bloggers, or others who actually talk to ATR teachers on a daily basis. You won't see people like that writing for Chalkbeat anytime soon. So the answer to Chalkbeat's big question is, "We don't know."

The next urgent question Chalkbeat has is how many teachers are in the ATR for disciplinary reasons. Naturally Chalkbeat goes to TNTP, created by Michelle Rhee, because you can just never have too much reforminess is a piece of education reporting. And for the record, the TNTP CEO is another guy who trashes ATRs in the pages of Campbell Brown's blog, so his opinion, while utterly predictable, is indispensable. What teachers may have been accused of, whether they have been deemed guilty of said accusations, or whether the charges were trumped-up nonsense is of no relevance and therefore not even mentioned. It's always easier to assume they are all unfit even though none have been found to be. And again, Chalkbeat does not waste one minute of valuable time talking to an actual teacher and answers the question, "We don't know."

How long have teachers been in the pool? Chalkbeat again goes to teacher-bashing TNTP, because why bother talking to anyone else? Teachers? ATR teachers? Meh. After all, Chalkbeat reporters aren't paid by the hour.  The answer? "We don't know." In fairness, Chalkbeat also suggests a principal thinks ATR teachers may not have received PD, and may therefore be unfit. Every teacher reading this has been to PD, and every teacher reading this could have advised Chalkbeat on its value. Fortunately for Chalkbeat, they don't talk to working teachers, so that makes their job a little easier.

Chalkbeat also asks where ATR teachers have worked in the past. As someone who regularly communicates with ATR teachers, I'd say, "Everywhere." Chalkbeat, of course, can't be bothered talking to those of us who actually do the work, so their answer, yet again, is "We don't know." But it's important because the teachers, the ones they have not established to have done anything wrong, may have done something wrong, and may be placed in low income areas. Here's a newsflash, Chalkbeat. Anyone may have done something wrong. You, for example, may have done a half-baked, biased job of reporting, and people in low-income areas may rely on you for information.

Finally, Chalkbeat asks the important question--what are ATR teachers certified in? And guess what? They don't know. Chalkbeat thinks ATR teachers may need retraining, because they may be certified in subjects that aren't that popular. In fairness, there's a lot of that going around. I heard somewhere there were journalists who presented and published features on subjects about which they know little or nothing. Of course, I didn't bother speaking to any journalists before coming to this conclusion, because why bother? Chalkbeat wouldn't.

For the record, I am in total agreement with my friends at the ICE blog, who suggest the aim of the ceaseless and baseless attacks on the ATR is to bust union. A lot of people don't know it, but we are all ATRs. Just be in the wrong place at the right time, and it could be you.
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