Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reformy Chalkbeat Peddles the Moskowitz Book

A few years ago, I used to write for Chalkbeat, nee Gotham Schools. I wrote a review of Diane Ravitch's book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, which I loved. There was a very lively comment section, and for reasons not shared with me, Chalkbeat deleted it. I recall that UFT employee Peter Goodman counseled me in the comments that there could be repercussions for expressing myself. I'm a chapter leader, and I advise people all the time. I'm trying to think of a circumstance under which I'd do that in a public forum, and my mind is a blank.

Someone else questioned why the post went up when it did. Evidently it was during school hours. Someone from Chalkbeat had to explain that they put up the posts, not the guest writers. I was, of course, let go by Chalkbeat when my point of view failed to jibe with their mission, ostensibly to show all points of view without bias. You know, Fair and Balanced. Except the pro-teacher, pro-public education point of view, which somehow didn't fit. Go figure.

When Diane Ravitch wrote a book, they allowed me, a guest, to review it. But when Eva Moskowitz wrote a book, they get one of their paid writers to do a feature. After all, Ravitch is only the most outspoken and thoughtful living advocate of public education, so dump her on one of the guests. Moskowitz is a charter chain mogul, and thus merits Chalkbeat's undivided attention.

It's all about values. What do we learn about the Moskowitz book?

Moskowitz really wants you to know she’s human.
Well, that's illuminating. It never occurred to me to point out that Ravitch was human. I've seen her speak several times, and she's never made a big deal about it, so I didn't either. I mean, don't get me wrong, I adore animals. I'm particularly fond of dogs. Nonetheless, I've known very few who could write books. There is this extraordinary canine named Thor Michaelson who runs a spirited campaign against vacuums, but even Michaelson has yet to paw his autobiography. When he does,
maybe I'll write, "Michaelson really wants you to know he's a dog."

Of course, this could be figurative. It could just be that she wants to come off as less cold and calculating. I mean, when you let kids pee their pants, when you drag your students, their parents and your staff to Albany to campaign for your own cause, when you have a privileged relationship with a reformy chancellor, when you make lists of students who've "got to go," you may get, you know, an unfavorable rep. Maybe she wants you to know she's human, but let's face it, a dog wouldn't do any of those things. Maybe being human is nothing to boast about after all. In any case, you won't be reading about those things in reformy Chalkbeat. Instead, you'll read that, "Chalkbeat tried to understand why Moskowitz was such a lightning rod." This notwithstanding, it might be obvious to those who get their information from places other than Chalkbeat.

After reading a story by Juan Gonzalez, instead of asking, "Holy crap, how does she get away with this?" reformy Chalkbeat wonders why everyone is ganging up on poor Eva Moskowitz. That's the kind of coverage you get when Gates and Walmart subsidize the education press. You get "theories" as to why Moskowitz might be a controversial figure.

Look, I'm sure if I wrote a book about myself, I'd try to make myself look good too. But I'm just a lowly public school teacher, not a charter school mogul. That's why reformy Chalkbeat would never focus on the likes of me. Or you. Or the overwhelming majority of students who we, not Eva Moskowitz, serve.

What's next for Eva Moskowitz? Reformy minds want to know, and Reformy Chalkbeat is more than happy to oblige.
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