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A Powerful And Obnoxious Odor Of Mendacity

What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?…There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity…You can smell it. It smells like death. — Big Daddy in The Streetcar Named Desire

The stench of mendacity appeared on the pages of the New York Post yesterday, where the DoE’s John White is quoted as claiming “Any statement that the teachers union was trying to satisfy the requirements of Race to the Top through an agreement with the state and the [city] Department of Education is a lie.”

The RttT pledge included a core statement of US DoE and State Education Department principles, but also allowed local school districts and unions to add additional terms and clarifications to which they both agreed. Long ago, the NYC DoE e-mailed the UFT’s Secretary, asking if we would sign a joint RttT application. We responded that we would need to know what was being added, and that we should meet to discuss it. Week after week passed by without the slightest effort on the part of Chancellor Klein and the DoE to meet and negotiate these terms and clarifications with the UFT. The eleventh hour came and went. Receiving signs from Albany that their obstructionism was backfiring, the DoE asked to meet with us at the very last minute. They then proposed all manner of addenda that would have violated the collective bargaining agreement, knowing that it would be unacceptable to us. The UFT submitted a pledge on our own, without the NYC DoE’s unilateral addenda.

What a tangled web the DoE weaves.

UPDATE: We got our Tennessee Williams plays mixed up: the quote was from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.



  • 1 Arthur Goldstein
    · Jan 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    That was also a rather remarkable headline. You’d think they’d at least pretend it was news, rather than posting their opinion in the headline–an opinion that was disputed later in the story, in case any New York Post readers got that far.

    An important omission was the fact that legislators demanded parents get a say in whether or not schools their children attend get converted into charters. That’s a reasonable demand, and we ought to support it–and not via some kangaroo court process in which folks like John White ignore parents, teachers, students, clerics, and absolutely anyone who veers one iota from Mayor Bloomberg’s utter indifference to neighborhood schools.

    What a scam this hearing process was. Tweed got the facts wrong? The data is flawed? You can prove it? We don’t care, and we’ll continue to shout our boldfaced lies to the rooftops–or at least in the op-ed pages of every piece of newsprint in the city, including the New York Times.


  • 2 Glenorchy
    · Nov 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    “Menacity” quotation is from CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, not STREETCAR.