Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Another Day, Another Vilification of Teacher Tenure.

Sometimes there's so much to say, I'm puzzled just how to begin. I'll say this, though, We have a President of the United States who dozens of women have accused of rape, virtually wiping his ass with the US Constitution, attacking the free press, and the New York Post is attacking teacher tenure.

Here's the argument, which I've heard a million times, from Giuliani, to Bloomberg, to Campbell Brown and who knows who else--we found a few teachers accused of outrages and not fired, and therefore no teacher should have due process, otherwise known as tenure. This is akin to suggesting that Americans ought not to have trials or due process because sometimes guilty people go free. (Except for the guy in the White House, of course, who denies everything and anything and ought not to be charged with anything, let alone tried for anything. You see, any argument against him is "fake news.")

Here's part of one of the Post's awful stories:

The alleged victim recanted, officials said, but the city feared Miller enough to bar him from the classroom forever. His pay rose to $127,333 last year.

With no case, evidently, the city was expected to fire the teacher for no reason whatsoever. Nonetheless, it's an unpardonable sin that the teacher is getting paid. The fact that there's no case against him is neither here nor there.

Here's what you won't read in the New York Post, or from Campbell Brown, or from any local paper who prints these stories--there are a whole lot of teachers brought up on charges for little or no reason. I'm personally acquainted with some of them. Usually I can't write about them, but I did here. Most people facing outlandish charges don't want publicity. They're more concerned with protecting their livelihoods.

How many people lost their jobs for no reason? I'm thinking of one right now, and I can't tell you her story, even though I wrote it years ago. She's still fighting it and doesn't want it to come out until it's finished. Of course, I can't blame her. You won't be reading her story in the New York Post anytime soon.

I've been teaching for 35 years, and since my first, no one's ever accused me of being a bad teacher. Of course, if I were to call myself a pain in the ass, I don't think there'd be a whole lot of pushback from my current principal. Other principals are far more sensitive than he is. For example, at CPE 1, principal Monika Garg placed the chapter leader and delegate up on charges, likely for doing their jobs. Months later, after heroic pushback from the community, they were reinstated.

Do you know how many chapter leaders, delegates and teachers have been put up on frivolous charges without being reinstated? Do you know how many were suspended without pay for no good reason? Do you know how many paid thousands of dollars and suffered for months in rubber rooms for no good reason? Of course not. That's not Campbell Brown's beat.

I was not always an activist, and I was not always a blogger. However, I've been an ESL teacher for a long time. Once I had two students who were fluent in English, but illiterate. I happened to mention this to then-NY Times education columnist Michael Winerip, who mentioned it in a fax he sent the DOE. This placed a former principal of mine in a frenzy. He ranted about how ungrateful I was, though in fact he'd never lifted a finger to help me with anything whatsoever.

He then began a campaign of harassment, demanding I repeatedly meet him at the end of the day to discuss nothing. He dragged me into meetings where the sole topic was whose asses happened to be covered after my unspeakable transgression. (That would be everyone's, except mine. The two boys, in a spirit of cooperation, both dropped out of school, still illiterate, shortly thereafter.) He refused to buy books for my students. If he could have fired me, I have no doubt he'd have done so. I'm very grateful to be union, and I'm very grateful to have tenure. If people like the ones quoted in that article had their way, my career would have been over decades ago.

It's disappointing but predictable that the tabloids write the same story, over and over about the perfidy of teachers. How dare we not only show up every day to teach the children of New York City, but also demand not to be fired for no reason? We aren't perfect, but I make no apology for the job protections I have. I need them. Every teacher needs them.

It's beyond disappointing to see how poorly we're represented in the press. If Americans were smart, they'd make us a model for all, as opposed to vilifying us at every possible juncture.
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