Thursday, November 21, 2019

Al D'Amato, Education Expert

Last week I wrote about how the NY Post had yet another article trashing teachers who've been reassigned. I've read this article a million times. First it was Campbell Brown, on her mission to save the world from the perfidious individuals who teach children. This was covered quite a bit by then-education writer Ben Chapman in the Daily News.  This week former Senator Pothole, Al D'Amato, wrote essentially the same thing.

Here's the recipe--You take a few extreme cases, outliers at best, and paint them as though they're typical. After that, add a few dashes of union and teacher bashing, and then, no matter how little you know, paint yourself as an expert. Now D'Amato's piece has a title that suggests otherwise--We have a lot to learn about education's cost and quality. Unfortunately, Al is pushing the same old anti-union nonsense he did when he was a Senator. That's probably one reason he was voted out.

I'm not sure how many people read the Herald, but I'm glad Al didn't manage to get his story into something like Newsday, with wider circulation. Al's source appears to be the Post article, which I suppose is as good as any when it comes to teacher-bashing. Al, of course, is himself a paragon of virtue, so he can say this stuff. After all, he was cleared in the whole Roosevelt Raceway sale, even though it stunk to high heaven.

Hey, does that remind you of anything? It kind of reminds me of the teachers who were reassigned. They were never convicted of anything. Yet Al says the system sucks and needs to be changed because they got away with something. Now usually, when someone says you didn't do something, you're considered not to have done it, and therefore you aren't punished for it. That's exactly what happened to these teachers. In fact, that's exactly what happened to Al as well.

So let me ask you this, Al. Should you go to prison for a role in something you were acquitted of? I'm not familiar with the case, but I think you might be guilty. Maybe you had a fancy lawyer I wouldn't be able to afford, or maybe you got off on a technicality. Maybe the jurors believed you but you were lying. You see I don't know, just like you don't know about these teachers. Nonetheless, here's what you said:

But since he was a tenured teacher at the time of his disciplinary hearing, strict union rules prevented him from being fired.

What rules, Al? Is it the rule that you can't fire someone with due process rights for no reason? Is it the rule that when an arbitrator determines you didn't actually do the thing of which you are accused, you aren't punished for it? You see, just like in Al's case, I don't know enough about what happened to make a judgment. It seems to me, Al, that if you aren't willing to go to prison for a crime of which you were not convicted, you ought not to be claiming these teachers should.

Worse than that, you ought not to take one outrageous story and stereotype all of us for it. I fail to see the distinction between that and garden variety bigotry.

What does D'Amato want? He wants more charter schools. He wants no union. He wants teachers fired for any reason or no reason. Offering no statistics whatsoever, he says charters perform better. So what if they toss inconvenient kids out at every juncture and we teach everyone. It's all about saving money in taxes and sending it to rich people, like former Senator Al D'Amato.

One of the great things about this story is you don't even need to write it anymore. Just copy someone else's, add a few lines, and there you are. Instant vilification of teachers.
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