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“Noble Lies?” EDDRA And The Daily News

One of the more problematic ideas in political philosophy is the ‘noble lie,’ the notion that it is permissible, perhaps even required, for leaders to lie to the people, so long as the lie is “necessary” for the advancement of a good cause. This is a profoundly anti-democratic idea, rooted in the belief that the people can not be trusted to know the truth, or to act on behalf of the right and the common good, once they know the truth. For all of its veneer of ‘political realism,’ it is also ultimately self-destructive. Lies in public life have a logic and trajectory of their own, and when one begins by lying to others, whatever the motivation, one variably ends up by lying to oneself. And there is nothing more dangerous to a good cause than a propagandist who believes his own propaganda.

In American education today, the practitioners of the ‘noble lie’ are many, and on all sides of all questions. The reigning political logic in the field seems to be that one figures out where one stands on a given issue, and then adopts a strategic conception of the truth, admitting only those propositions which confirm that stand. The very first victims of this approach are complexity and contradiction, nuance and distinction.

I was reminded of this reality when I read some of the responses to a powerful piece [registration required] in last Wednesday’s New York Times, in which Samuel Freedman described how the disaggregation of data required by No Child Left Behind had revealed a stunning racial achievement gap in the wealthy, high performing schools of Princeton, New Jersey. One would think that educational progressives would celebrate the fact that the failure to properly educate students of color was being exposed to public view, which would seem to be a pre-condition for the problem itself being addressed, but in some quarters opposition to NCLB carries with it the obligatory denial of even the slightest redeeming feature in the legislation. So on the EDDRA listserv widely read in educational policy circles [one must join the listserv to read the posts], Freedman’s essay came under attack on the grounds that there were a small number of students of color in the schools, and this meant that the gap could not be statistically significant. No one stopped to even play out the logic of their objections: given that the Princeton school district has plentiful human and material capital on the scale that urban school districts can only dream about, given that most of the Princeton students would thrive academically wherever they are and need no special attention, and given that the number of students of color were small in number, the existence of a gap was all the more inexcusable.

Yes, I know that there are those, with no real interest in the educational well-being of students of color, who will use the existence of the racial achievement gap to attack public education. But it seems to me that the appropriate response is not to deny the existence of the achievement gap, but to address it forthrightly, and to point out how those critics support policies, such as the inequitable distribution of education resources, which perpetuate the gap. And yes, there are parts of No Child Left Behind such as the Annual Yearly Progress benchmarks which were poorly conceived, are without probative value and function as an unrealistic standard of school-wide achievement. But if we issue unqualified broadsides against all of the law, including the valuable disaggregation of student achievement data by race and ethnicity, aren’t we undermining our own credibility as reasoned critics of the law’s shortcomings? And if we rush to ally ourselves with anyone and everyone who opposes NCLB, including those [such as the ultra-conservative Utah state legislature] who oppose it precisely because of features such as the disaggregation of student achievement data, what right do we then have to call ourselves progressive educators, concerned above all with the education of our students with the greatest need? How will we ever be able to address the ‘savage inequalities’ which continue to define American education, if we are not honest, as much with ourselves as with the public, about the existence of such inequalities?

Don’t think that EDDRA is somehow unique, and that the ‘noble lie’ is a disease of the far left in education alone. What is remarkable in the US today is the prevalence of ‘double standards’ in the discussion of educational matters, perhaps even more on the far right then on the far left. Arguments which would be dismissed in a nanno-second if they were applied to district public schools are used with great abandon by some of the fiercest right wing critics of public schools when these critics are advocating for charter schools. Take the September 18th NY Daily News editorial calling for an end to the cap on the number of charter schools in New York State, based on the proposition that their academic performance is much superior to that of district schools. The editorial offers as evidence for the their position, the following proposition: “On last year’s English Language Arts exam, 62% of charter school students scored at or above grade level, compared with 55% of their peers at regular public schools. In math, the score was 61% versus 50%.”

There is only one problem. You can go to the web site of the New York State Education Department [see also here], or the web site of the New York City Department of Education, or even to the web site of the New York Center for Charter Excellence, the charter school arm of the DOE which is constantly promoting an end to the cap, but nowhere will you find the numbers touted by the Daily News. [These are the web pages for the results of the recently published Math exams; the results for the ELA exams also vary from the Daily News’ numbers, but most of the web pages with those results are no longer active.] What the Daily News apparently did was combine the results of two different ELA and two different Math exams given to different grade levels, the 4th and the 8th grades, to reach the numbers they gave as a single exam.

Why would the Daily News amalgamate two different exams into one? In order to spin charter school exam results which were less than sterling, and a great deal less than they claimed, into support for their position that the cap needed to be lifted because of the superior performance of the charter schools.

Here’s what really happened. In New York City, there are sixteen charter elementary schools giving the 4th grade test, and six charter secondary schools giving the 8th grade test. The average performance of students in the larger group of charter elementary schools fell slightly below the average performance of students in district public schools, while the average performance of students in the smaller group of charter secondary schools was above the average performance of students in district public schools. So rather than admit that there was a mixed record of performance even on this select comparison [more on this below], the Daily News pretended that there was one ELA exam and one Math exam.

And that is only the beginning of the dishonesty here. A few weeks back, we took a look here at Edwize at the argument of the New York Center for Charter Excellence for the lifting of the cap on charter schools, based on the earlier reporting of the results of the ELA exams alone. [The ELA results were published a few months before the results of the Math exams.] Then, as in the more recent case of the Math exams, the charter secondary schools in New York City performed better than the charter elementary schools, so we took the stronger argument for charter school excellence, the secondary schools, and examined it in some detail. What we found there was that the separation of New York City schools from the rest of New York State – an artificial distinction, since schools are chartered on a statewide, not a city, basis – was designed to gain maximum benefit from a few charter secondary school statistical outliers in New York City, while conveniently ignoring the much greater mass of low-performing charter secondary schools throughout the state. We did a similar study of the secondary charter schools giving the 8th grade Math exam, and the results were virtually identical. If you examine the table at the end of this post, you will find that while three of the six secondary charter schools in New York City were above the state average, and five of the six in New York City were above the city average, only one of the other nine secondary charter schools in the state were above the state average. When the entire pool of secondary charter schools in New York are examined, therefore, the results were nothing approaching the superior performance claimed by the Daily News. It is essential to examine the state wide results because if the cap for charter school were lifted, it would be lifted for the entire state, and it would be lifted for the chartering agencies which chartered all of the secondary charter schools in New York State.

What is more, the three outlier secondary charter schools in New York City which performed exceptionally well – Beginning with Children, KIPP Academy, Renaissance – are all conversion charter schools, district public schools which chose to convert to charter status. That is significant for two reasons. First, there is no cap on the number of conversion charter schools. The very schools being used to argue for lifting the cap on start-up charter schools are not start-ups themselves; moreover, there is no limit on how many of those schools could be started tomorrow. Second, as a conversion charter school, they still operate under the collective bargaining agreement with the UFT. So the argument that charter schools perform so much better because they are free of the onerous burdens of unionization, an argument near and dear to the heart of Chancellor Klein, is actually disproved by the results of the state exams. We could use a great many more unionized charter schools like these three, one would think.

The editorial writers of the Daily News were never taught, it would appear, that old children’s rhyme, “what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive.”

The UFT is supportive of charter schools, I must reiterate here. We are starting two charter schools of our own, one elementary and one secondary, and I have been deeply involved in the planning for the secondary charter school. Al Shanker was an absolutely key figure in the development of charter schools, and we continue to believe in the importance of charter schools along the lines advocated by Shanker – community based and educator led and run schools, freed of the stifling bureaucracy and micro-management that emanates from Tweed and other district management. That is a far cry, of course, from the for profit, EMO charters that have proliferated as the right has seized a serious beachhead on the charter school front. But all the more reason for us to be in the charter school world fighting for what is best for kids and their teachers.

But like districts public schools, charter schools will only grow and thrive when the arguments made on their behalf are honest arguments, and when their shortcomings and failures are straightforwardly addressed, not denied or ignored.

EIGHTH GRADE MATH EXAM RESULTSFOR NY STATE CHARTER SCHOOLS
Charter
School
#
Students
Tested
Mean
Math
Score
Level
One:
Level
Two:
Level
Three:
Level
Four:
Above
NYC
Average
Above
NY State
Average
Lindsay
Wildcat
Academy
9 696 #: 1
11.1%
#: 8
88.9%
#: 0
0%
#: 0
0%
NO NO
Harbor
Science
& Arts
27 716 #: 2
7.4%
#: 12
44.4%
#: 13
48.1%
#: 0
0%
YES NO
KIPP
Academy
48 738 #: 0
0%
#: 4
8.3%
#: 42
87.5%
#: 2
4.2%
YES YES
Bronx
Preparatory
53 715 #: 4
7.5%
#: 21
39.6%
#: 27
50.9%
#: 1
1.9%
YES NO
Beginning
with
Children
45 746 #: 0
0%
#: 8
17.8%
#: 23
51.1%
#: 14
31.1%
YES YES
Renaissance 49 719 #: 4
8.2%
#: 16
32.7%
#: 27
55.1%
#: 2
4.1%
YES YES
Totals
for NYC
Charter
Schools
231 #: 11
4.7%
#: 69
29.9%
#: 132
57.1%
#: 19
8.2%
5 OF 6 3 OF 6
South
Buffalo
49 713 #: 4
8.2%
#: 18
36.7%
#: 27
55.1%
#: 0
0%
NO
Stepping
Stone
44 696 #: 12
27.3%
#: 21
47.7%
#: 11
25%
#: 0
0%
NO
Enterprise 48 681 #: 24
50%
#: 20
41.7%
#: 4
8.3%
#: 0
0%
NO
Buffalo
Academy
for
Sciences
61 696 #: 13
21.3%
#: 39
63.9%
#: 9
14.8%
#: 0
0%
NO
Westminster 53 722 #: 1
1.9%
#: 18
34%
#: 33
62.3%
#: 1
1.9%
YES
School
for
Applied
Technology
103 710 #: 7
6.8%
#: 55
53.4%
#: 41
39.8%
#: 0
0%
NO
Rochester
Leadership
44 698 #: 11
25%
#: 25
56.8%
#: 8
18.2%
#: 0
0%
NO
School
of Science
and
Technology
94 692 #: 26
27.7%
#: 53
56.4%
#: 15
16%
#: 0
0%
NO
Syracuse
Academy
79 694 #: 27
34.2%
#: 25
31.6%
#: 26
32.9%
#: 1
1.3%
NO
Totals for
Non-NYC
Charter
Schools
575 #: 125
21.7%
#: 274
47.7%
#:174
30.3%
#: 2
.35%
1 OF 9
Print

16 Comments:

  • 1 lurker
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    Why is the (tentative) contract the first item on both the sidebar of NYTimes.com and NYC.gov, but isn neither mentioned on the front page of UFT.org nor on EdWize?

    Is the UFT really locked into an adversarial relationship, or is it just devoting insufficient resources to electronic communication?

  • 2 john lawhead
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 6:28 pm

    Leo, who are you calling a liar? Jerry Bracey? And why?? Because he criticized Freedman for shallow reporting!! Somehow that gives you a chance to claim that inequality in schools couldn’t be addressed without No Child Left Behind.

    You can peddle the virtues of that destructive law all you want. It’s a good rehersal for peddling the new UFTcontract. But it’s only fair that Bracey’s original statement be included. Let people see what you’re using as the springboard.

    ============================

    GERALD BRACEY from EDDRA list:

    Actually, I’m not sure that Freedman’s article says much at all and he certainly should have dug deeper. In a forthcoming book, Reading Education Research Between the Lines: How Not to Get Statistically Snookered, I enumerate a set of Principles of Data Interpretation in Educational Research. One of them is “Do the Arithmetic.”

    I called Princeton High. They have 1300 students. That’s 325 per class, assuming equal distribution across grades which, in Princeton, is a less iffy assumption than many places. Ninety-percent passed, 2% failed. That’s 6.5 kids, call it 7. 55% of blacks failed math. That’s about 4 kids. 40% of Hispanics failed math. That’s three kids.

    What, precisely, was the standard that they failed? We don’t know.

    I think Freedman should have talked to those kids and their families. I think discussing 4 and 3 kids as 55% and 40% of the class is not good reporting.

    The book should be out early Feb., Heinemann.

    Jerry

  • 3 NYC Educator
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 6:31 pm

    Well, Lurker seems to have said it all.

    UFT.org has posted something, though.

    On the topic, the Daily News is indeed a myopic, lying, teacher-bashing piece of crap, though as a birdcage liner, one couldn’t ask for more.

  • 4 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 7:14 pm

    one of my fantasies is that our teachers would actually boycott the Daily News and The Post. If they would read something else their own literacy couldn’t help but improve as well

  • 5 realitybasededucator
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    Why no news on EDWIZE about the tentative contract agreement between Benedict Weingarten and Mayor Money?

    Still cooking up the propaganda spin before you post?

    Still looking for something positive in this abomination of a contract that concedes twenty years of gains in one shot?

    Randi Weingarten couldn’t negotiate a good contract if she worked for Halliburton and she was trying to get a reconstruction deal in New Orleans from the Bush administration.

    She is grossly incompetent, criminally inept and wholly self-serving. She got taken to the cleaners twice in these contract deals and this one is particularly odious.

    A sixth class four times a week? Loss of seniority, Circular 6 and grievance rights? Three more days of work for PD, two before Labor Day? How much do you want to bet there will be three more days added in the next contract so that teachers will soon be coming back for a full week’s worth of work in August?

    The contract must be voted down and Randi Weingarten must resign. If Randi won’t resign, then she must be forcefully removed.

    The real enemy for UFT members is not Mayor Bloomberg. We know he is wolf who busts unions for a living. The real enemy for UFT members is Randi Weingarten who is a union leader who also busts unions for a living.

    Randi must go! Randi must go! Randi must go!

  • 6 HS SHOP TEACHER
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 9:51 pm

    It figures. We finally get a contract, and Randi manages to get 4% more than the fact-finders proposed, 2/3 more retroactive pay, no extra coverages, an extension of retirement at age 55 with 25 years to all teachers, language protecting teachers against micro-management, and the “I have no life so I am on the computer all day” crowd of NYC Educator and reality based educator are here with yet another round of personal attacks on Randi. OK, guys, you hold the world’s record for comments on someone else’s blog. Now perhaps you should think about why no one goes to your blogs and leaves comments there. It may have something to do with your incessant whining.

  • 7 Chaz
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 10:41 pm

    Well I do admit that Randi did a fair job in makng the arbitrators recommendation more reasonable for the classroom teacher. However, 15% for 52 months is less than 3.5% per year which is about what the suburbs get (without givebacks). However, look what we are giving up! Elimination of circular 6 (some teachers will be in the cafeteria, bathrooms, and hallway duty,—- real professional work). A minimum of 2 days before Labor Day (summer school teachers will go begging). Another 10 minutes (second jobs may not be possible). Letters-to-a-file that is not grievable (what stops a principal to write up a teacher for minor infractions?). Finally, the stealth 6th teaching period is just a contract away.

    I do give Randi credit for getting a better deal. Keeping the twice a year unpaid coverages, reducing the start time of the raises by 6 months (why not at the start of the contract????), and keeping many multi-session schools & district 75 from using the time as a potential 6th period (for how long? the next contract?).

    However, it does not solve the major issue (HS Shop Teacher), that is the narrowing of the salary differences between us and the burbs and the more difficult teaching that must be done in the city. Further, the micromanagment issues were not resolved as Randi states, they still and will exist under the new contract. Finally, the disaplinary process on teachers greatly weaken our due process. Suspension without pay for sexual and corporal punishment allegations. Guilty until proven innocent! What a victory for the UFT.

    Will I vote for this contract? I will have to think about it. In any case, it may not be a horror (ICE) but it is not, under any circumstances a fair contract (HS Shop Teacher).

  • 8 realitybasededucator
    · Oct 3, 2005 at 11:19 pm

    Oh, HS Shop Teacher, you are so easy to rebut:

    Randi didn’t get 4% more than the PERB report recommended. She and the mayor added an extra year to the contract for the 4%.

    Randi didn’t get “no extra coverages” in the contract. She traded “lead teacher positions” for the the deduction of the 10 extra coverages from the contract.

    Randi did get language in the contract that protects teachers from DOE micromanagement. Notice she doesn’t tell us what that language is exactly. Also notice that WPIX reported tonight that the DOE won easier discipline measures against “bad” teachers. How much do you want to make a bet the new “discipline measures” trump the language that protects teachers from DOE micromanagement?

    Sorry, HS Shop Teacher, this deal is terrible.

    Last time, we gave back 16% for 20 extra minutes.

    This time, we give back 10 minutes, three days, seniority rights, Circular 6 rights, and grievance rights, and agreed to a sixth class and merit pay for 14.25%

    And this is a good deal? This is the best Randi could do?

    Randi has sold the membership down the river for her own political interests.

    This contract must be voted down and Randi Weingarten must be sent packing before any more damage is done to the union.

    BTW, I think you are mixing up “incessant whining” with my desire to protect hard-won labor rights and win myself a salary raise that doesn’t require me to turn the clock back to 1950.

  • 9 jesse
    · Oct 4, 2005 at 1:15 am

    My two quick cents – having read the website – It’s my impression that the lead teacher positions might be a good idea. It would have to voluntary, and it allows someone to be the professional voice for teachers in a school outside of the chapter leader, who is there to help make sure rules aren’t broken. I need to find out more about the circular 6 stuff, though it seems that we’re not going back to the previous contract per se. My political instincts tell me it’ll be hard to impose potty duty, since DC37 is so invested in those positions. The 10 minutes mean different things for different people, in my school, and considering I live 15 minutes from my school, it doesn’t bother me as much. Ofcourse that’s me; knowing my current use of 20 minutes, and the fact that my wife works later than I do. Sold down the river seems like a hyperbole, the money will help immensly.

    As I’ve said before, it’s the political agenda’s among some people here that disturb me. I would strike, and hold the line, but having seen what the cops got, and what other unions have gotten where I used to live, I don’t think anyone has sold us down the river.

    This is, I think a lesson for all the teachers that vote for Republicans. Freddy’s not out yet, and Bloomberg has let teachers know what he thinks of their work.

  • 10 realitybasededucator
    · Oct 4, 2005 at 8:50 am

    Nice spin, Jesse, but you’re fooling yourself if you think teachers won’t be handed pottyroom duty under this new contract, you’re fooling yourself that the extra 10 minutes won’t matter when it means four 37.5 minute classes a week for many seocndary school teachers, and you’re fooling yourself if you think the 15% is really a raise after you take into account all the extra work.

    Sorry, Jesse, but I don’t want to teach a sixth class. Just because YOU won’t have to teach a sixth class doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to the rest of us.

    I’m not sure what you mean about having a political agenda. I belong to no union caucus. I have run for no office. I am simply outraged that my own union would agree to so many givebacks in one contract for a mere 15% (which amounts to about $184 dollars a paycheck to me after taxes).

    And who’s talking about a strike? I know the union is not ready to strike and I also know a strike would be a PR nightmare in the current political environment. That is a false dilemma that Weingarten and UNITY have proposed to members: either accept this crappy deal or strike immediately. There are other alternatives to either of these choices. For instance, we could get rid of the worst UFT preznit in history, Randi Weingarten, and elect a real union leader who would work for us rather than having us work for her.

    I have no problem with granting some concessions in a contract. But a sixth class, three more days of teaching (and that’s what it is…you will start teaching now right after Labor Day), and the loss of seniority, grievance, and Circular 6 rights is simply too much to give up.

    The union leadership has sold us down the river. We must vote no on the contract and vote no on Randi Weingarten.

  • 11 devils_advocate
    · Oct 4, 2005 at 9:18 am

    Jesse – Some people will complain no matter how much improved the deal is. Some people prefer to acknowledge the political climate we face.

    The rest of us, are pragmatic and live in THIS world, not in the fantasy world.

  • 12 realitybasededucator
    · Oct 4, 2005 at 11:38 am

    To say the little sweeteners in the contract deal make it much improved from the PERB report is like saying, “I thought I was going to lose both arms and both legs in this avoidable accident, but instead I only lost both my legs and one arm. Hey, at least I have one arm left!”

    This deal nearly completely destroys what the union has spent 40 years to build in one shot.

    This deal does not have to be agreed to. Randi wants it agreed to because she put all of her eggs in the PERB report basket and she can’t reject the recommendations without looking stupid. So she agrees to the PERB report as a vehicle for negotiation and gets one or two concessions from that report while giving up one or two to the city in return.

    How does that make the deal better? How does that make you pragmatic and living in the real world.

    Living in the real world would mean realizing your union president doesn’t care about you or the job you do, only has her own political future and self-interests in mind when she makes 20 years of concessions in one contract, and sets a terrible precedent for future givebacks (e.g., health care costs, pensions, more days, more time, more merit pay and tenure.)

    Don’t kid yourself. This contract is just the start. The next one will be even more egregious.

  • 13 Leo Casey
    · Oct 4, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    Just a few words on the actual thread topic here.

    One can easily find the relevant information on academic performance at Princeton HS on the web, thanks to the data disaggregation demands on NCLB. Go to: http://education.state.nj.us/rc/rc04/details.php?c=21;d=4255;s=050;f=I;lt=;st=#LALHSPA

    In the class which took the state Language Arts and Math exams in 2003-04, there were 194 white students, 26 African-American students and 26 Hispanic students. In Language Arts, 4.6% of the white students, 34.6% of the African-American students, and 26.9% of the Hispanic students fall into the lowest category, limited profiency, and in Math 5.7% of the white students, 46.2% of the African-American students, and 42.3% of the Hispanic students fell into the category of limited profiency. Conversely, in Language Arts, 52.1% of the white students, 7.7% of the African-American students and 11.5% of the Hispanic students were in the highest category, advanced proficiency, and in Math, 69.9% of the white students, 11.5% of the African-American students, and 15.4% of the Hispanic students fell into the advanced proficiency category.

    Do you think this is an exceptional year? Take a look at the year before it, 2002-03. That year there were 197 white students, 27 African-American students, and 15 Hispanic students. In Language Arts, 3% of the white students, 29.6% of the African-American students, and 20% of the Hispanic students fell into the lowest category of limited proficiency. In Math, 6% of the white students, 55.6% of the African-American students, and 21.4% of the Hispanic students fell into the lowest category of limited proficiency. Conversely, 41.6% of the white students, 3.7% of the African-American students, and 26.7% of the Hispanic students were in the highest category of advanced proficiency in Language Arts, and 61.9% of the white students, 0% of the African-American students, and 50% of the Hispanic students were in the highest category of advanced proficiency in Math.

    We thus clearly have a continuing, rather substantial achievement gap in the Princeton high school, and Freedman was quite correct in pointing it out. The attempts to suggest that there is not enough evidence to document the gap, both on EDDRA and here, are disingenuous, at the very least. The suggestion that in writing about this achievement gap, Samuel Freedman did not do his research, that he is a lazy reporter, and all the other ad hominem arguments launched at him from EDDRA are completely without merit.

    Note also that Princeton is a wealthy school district, serving a population with the highest concentration of Ph.D.s in the US. It spends well above the NJ average on its students, and it has class sizes that average around 20 students per class. This is not a struggling urban district.

    The school describes its academic performance in the following manner:
    “Our students have earned many honors. The class of 2004 included sixteen (16) National Merit Semi-Finalists and forty (40) Commended scholars and twenty-six (26) Bloustein Scholars. One hundred twenty nine (129) Princeton High School students who took the May 2004 Advanced Placement examinations received Advanced Placement Scholars Awards. Fifty seven (57) were Scholars with Distinction, twenty six (26) were Scholars with Honor and forty six (46) were Advanced Placement Scholars. In addition, fourteen (14) Princeton High School students qualified for the Advanced Placement National Scholar Award. (Our students have been included in the highest SAT 1 groupings in the nation.) Our 2004 mean Verbal Score was 611; our mean Math Score was 626 for a combined mean of 1237. Princeton High School continues to be ranked as one of the top schools in the state.”

    Clearly, a great many resources at Princeton HS, both human and material, go into the advanced education of students who would succeed under any circumstances. And just as clearly, insufficient resources are going to the relatively small number of its students, mostly of color, who do not come to the school with all of the advantages of social class and family background that most Princeton students bring to it.

    Anyone who thinks that the defense of public education requires the denial of this achievement gap, or that criticism of the flaws and shortcomings of NCLB requires the denial of the importance of NCLB’s demand for the disaggregation of student performance data by race and ethnicity, has been lying to themselves so long they no longer recognize the truth.

  • 14 HS SHOP TEACHER
    · Oct 4, 2005 at 1:56 pm

    Since the contract agreement has been announced our “need a life” crew of four or five folks have posted no less than 50 different comments on various threads on this blog. If the level of disinformation they are now proffering is any indication of the desperate lengths they are prepared go to, this is going to be quite a lively, if not necessarily very accurate couple of weeks until the contract reatification is done.

    Just take the issue of the lead teacher. For a number of years, the UFT has been advocating the development of a lead teacher. Hell, all you have to do is go to the UFT web site to see a report which was adopted by the Delegate Assembly a number of years ago: http://www.uft.org/news/issues/atquality/index.html The whole idea is to have a career possibility for teachers to remain in the classroom half time, and to spend the other half of the time mentoring and doing professional development for new and novice teachers. We should have had a lot more of those trades where we give up a lead teacher position in return for not having to do 10 additional coverages. To talk about such position as merit pay is to be off in lala land, where the melting ICE from global warming and the Klein loons meet.

    If that is what the professional commenters have to say in criticism of this contract agreement, then one can understand the ever raising shrillness and notes of desperation in their voices. Not too long before we get comments written entirely in caps, with twnety exclamation points at the end.

  • 15 Edwize » NY Post: CHOICE IS GREAT — EXCEPT FOR TEACHERS WHO WANT A UNION
    · Nov 4, 2005 at 12:28 pm

    [...] It’s always entertaining to watch the mighty pens of the New York Post editorial staff twist and turn around an issue when the plain truth is too much for them to bear [and, for that matter, to bare].   The latest episode is the Post editorial ‘Zap The Cap’ which denounces – hold on to your seats, boys and girls – the UFT and Randi Weingarten for the fact that the cap on the number of charter schools in New York State remains in place.   Let us leave to the side the Post’s editorial sortie into the prose style of Dr. Seuss, as some of us always saw this as an inevitable rhetorical turn, given the limited repertoire of its barely post-adolescent editorial writers and the fact that it pitches its newspaper to a third grade reading level.     What is interesting here, as in most Post editorials, is what is not said. Specifically, the Post dances around the facts in this Daily News article, which appeared less than a week before the Post editorial. What is now on the record is the fact that Randi indicated the UFT’s willingness to consider an increase in the cap on the number of charter schools. The only condition for UFT support is that the law also be amended to ensure that teachers in charter schools who wanted to be represented by a union could do so without hindrance, by certifying a union as the collective bargaining agent once it is verified that a majority of the teachers have signed union membership cards.   But for those, both in the Post editorial offices and at Tweed, who see charter schools as a way to create non-union schools rather than schools of excellence, the idea that teachers in charter schools would have the free choice to unionize is anathema. Better that the number of charter schools be frozen than there be more unionized charter schools.   Choice, it would appear, is good for everyone but teachers who want a union.   [As devotees of the historical record, we can’t let this moment pass without also pointing out that the Post once again plays fast and loose with the facts in its editorial. It asserts that low-performing public schools are not closed down. We don’t know where they live, but in New York City over the last five years, no less than seventeen different high schools deemed to be low-performing have been closed down or are currently in the process of phasing out. And the Post misrepresents the academic performance of charter schools in New York State as superior to that of regular district schools. We have dissected that particular falsehood at some length, here and here.]  [...]

  • 16 Edwize » WHO’S AFRAID OF TEACHER VOICE? CHARTER SCHOOLS AND UNION ORGANIZING
    · Nov 17, 2005 at 11:18 pm

    [...] You could drive a fleet of non-union trucks through that hole, which ALF and Jackson Lewis will gladly defend in court.   THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION – CHARTER SCHOOL – ALF CONNECTION As offensive as it is, neither the Jackson Lewis pamphlet nor the Jackson Lewis presentations were unforeseen: no one expects that the leopard will change his spots. What was remarkable, however, was who appeared on the other panel at [...]