Yesterday I noticed four pieces in the Post that were distinctly targeted at us. The first was a cheery little piece about how well NYC schools are funded. The second was about how test scores went up because exams were easier. The third was about a ruckus between a couple of top people at UFT. Evidently Donald Trump is not the only person who has to worry about leaks these days. Then, of course, there's the obligatory anti-ATR piece.
Before I say anything else, I have to add that I am a frequent fan of Post education writer Sue Edelman. Sometimes I disagree with her columns, but she has a knack for finding and exposing crazy principals., Every time I notice some principal wearing her fur coat while ignoring her job, or pushing all the teacher desks out on the street, I silently applaud.
Now I can't read the minds of the writers, so whatever I say here is guesswork. But when you compare New York City spending with that around the nation, I figure you ought to include cost of living. I mean, I'm not personally all that shocked that we spend 10% more than Syracuse, although it's presented as an outright scandal. Naturally, our salaries are also to blame. It turns out we have a very high salary compared to teachers elsewhere. Never mind that a whole lot of states pay teachers so poorly they run off in droves, or that we can't really keep them here either. And forget about the fact that teachers in our immediate surrounding area earn well more than we do, and have done so for at least the three decades I've been teaching.
As for test scores, I distinctly recall, when they went up under Bloomberg, the general conclusion in the press was that he was a genius, and his reforminess was working. Diane Ravitch was skeptical, noting that the NAEP scores did not parallel the gains. It took years before the NY Times caught up with Ravitch, and I doubt the Post ever did. Of course, with Bill de Blasio in office, there's no giving credit for test scores.
The fact is that the scores, the ones around which schools live or die, are nonsense. My students are rated by the NYSESLAT, which they took months ago, and which we scored months ago. Yet we have no idea how our students will be placed because they set the cut scores after students take the tests. Can you imagine what your principal would say if you pulled something like that? Sorry, Mr. Principal, but I can't give grades until I figure out how to pass exactly 81% of my students. Miss Grundy passed 80% and I need to do better. No wonder the state believes we're such crooks that we can't grade our own students. They think we must be as bad as they are.
The big scandal in UFT brass looks to be between Howie Schoor and Ellie Engler. I know them both from UFT Executive Board. The very first time I got up to speak there, Ellie Engler set up a meeting with the school construction authority. Because of that, my school will get an annex to address our rampant and chronic overcrowding, so I'm a fan. (Norm speculates Ellie was not a friend of Debbie Poulos, in which case she's mistaken. Debbie is an aggressive and creative problem solver, she's helped my members more than once. If I ran UFT, I'd have Debbie cloned and send at least one Debbie to every borough office.) I know Howie only because he regularly offers cursory, off-the-cuff, and even mystifying answers to my questions. It's nuts the Post goes so crazy over a typo in an email, but I really wonder who leaked it and why.
Yet leaks are problematic, says Post columnist Michael Goodwin:
Leaks, leaks, leaks are Exhibit A. Why they continue, and why nobody has been fired for bad-mouthing the president to the media, remain a mystery. Why does Trump put up with it?
You see the discrepancy here? Leaks in Trump's White House are bad, and there needs to be retribution. Leaks in the teachers' union need to be celebrated, and we need to do feature stories on them even if we barely understand what the hell they are about.
Naturally there is a piece about how the astroturf group StudentsFirstNY managed, with the bazillions they get from Gates, to assemble 20 parents to protest ATRs. It's always nice to see an organized group indulge in mindless stereotype, and it's not surprising that the Post manages to interpret this corporate-sponsored act of ignorance as "ripping deBlasio apart." That's so stupid I won't give it any more attention. And for my ATR friends wondering when UFT was gonna say something, here is Mulgrew's response. When Mulgrew wonders whether anyone will print UFT "rebuttals "about ATRs I wonder whether UFT has submitted op-eds for publication. If anyone can clue me in, the comments are open.
Now I know the Post's positions are probably not big news to any teacher who reads the papers. But I'm kind of tired of hearing how awful I am for drawing a salary. I teach the children of New York City and therefore perform a more valuable service than President Trump, who appears top devote himself to golfing, decimating union, getting tax cuts for himself and his BFFs, and taking away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.
I'll sit while I wait for the Post to share my opinion.