Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Reformy Chalkbeat Can't Find a Working Teacher Who Isn't E4E

When you read Chalkbeat, you know you'll get a diverse point of view. Whenever I want to find a broad variety of non-teacher opinions, say, about the new chancellor I go right there.

First, you get Michael Mulgrew. While Mulgrew is the head of UFT, he hasn't been a working teacher for some years now. Then, you get a deputy mayor, who I assume also does not teach either. (I don't see a lot of deputy mayors hanging around the lunchroom.)

Then you go to the person probably most quoted by Chalkbeat, Jenny Sedlis, Executive Director of Students First NY. Everyone knows that the way reformies put students first is by putting teachers last. Of course, teachers should be fired at will, because supervisors know everything. They never act out of vindictiveness. They are never failed teachers who moved up because they couldn't do the actual job. Most of all, they are never utterly unqualified, like Joel Klein, Cathie Black, Betsy DeVos, or any number of people who've run school systems. If Michelle Rhee says taping kids' mouths shut is the way to go, that should be good enough for anyone.

Naturally, you then pivot to James Merriman, the CEO of NYC Charter Center. Maybe Eva Moskowitz was unavailable. In any case, it's important to find out what charter school people think about the chancellor, even though they can't be bothered following chancellor's regs. Verbal abuse? Well, abuse on if that means they're gonna pass the standardized test. Corporal punishment? Let the kids pee their pants instead of leaving test prep because we're zero tolerance and we don't go for that human dignity nonsense. Oddly, I afford my dog more dignity than some charters afford their kids so I'll be walking him very early on this slushy and snowy morning.

Then you go to Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten: Naturally you group them together, because who can be bothered to distinguish between teacher union presidents? It's not like they're Educators 4 Excellence, in which case you'd need to get each and every one of their comments. Of course neither one of them teaches, so you haven't muddied the waters too much with anyone who actually does this job.

 You then, finally, get to someone very important, to wit, former teacher Evan Stone, who runs a group called Educators 4 Excellence even though he himself hasn't been an educator for years. I mean, he was one for maybe five minutes, but now he's got this groovy gig taking Gates money, and he doesn't have to be bothered with the trivial nonsense of actually teaching children. Chalkbeat once ran a feature about how E4E managed to acquire 100 signatures for something or other, probably more work for less pay. I work in the largest school in Queens, and I could collect 100 signatures in 45 minutes. But since I don't take money from Bill Gates, like E4E and Chalkbeat, who cares what I think?

Of course you follow that up by interviewing an actual teacher. Since you are, ostensibly, a site about education, but neither know nor can be bothered to look up any actual teachers, you leave no Evan Stone unturned and ask him who he knows. And who would've thunk it, but the only teachers he knows are also Educators 4 Excellence. So you talk to that person and you've killed several birds with one Evan Stone. First of all, you haven't had to bother with the messy work of talking to any typical rank and file, because who knows what they will say? Certainly no one at Chalkbeat, and certainly no one who relies on Chalkbeat for information. On top of that, you've managed to sneak in yet another reformy view while presenting it as that of an ordinary teacher.

Best of all you don't have to worry about those nasty bloggers calling you a reformy rag. You interviewed a living breathing teacher and no one can say otherwise. Who cares if the one you found signed a pledge of allegiance to a Gates-supported bunch of reformies that has no business claiming to represent teachers? The important thing is you can tell yourself you spoke to a teacher, and when you get down to it, that should be good enough for anyone.

After all, teaching is already a calling, so why should you bother calling teachers?

Correction: Of course they interviewed Eva Moskowitz. I don't know if they added it or if I missed it, but no Chalkbeat piece would be complete without her opinion.
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