Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Teachers have no friends among the journalistic elite

by digby

I'm sorry to blast Alex Wagner's show two posts in a row, but this segment on the Chicago teachers strike is so smugly biased and ill-informed my head is exploding:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wagner: As 26,000 chicago teachers enter the third day of their strike there is no sign of an agreement between the union and chicago public school officials, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is calling on both sides to come to a deal. Policies that the Obama Administration supports are at the root of this dispute. The teachers are to the pushing for more pay, but instead are fighting evaluations that are tied to student performance. This is always, Governor Rendell, a tricky mathematics, if you will. The question of education reform versus teachers unions, obviously a place for both. It's particularly tricky for the administration, given the fact they definitely need the support of labor going into November.

Rendell: I don't think this issue in the state of Illinois will affect the electoral vote of illinois but it's an important issue because Rahm Emanuel is showing again, that Democrats can stand up to unions when their demands are unreasonable. I hear it's not economics. The economics in this contract are good for the teachers. It's the demand that's really untenable and the American people think that teachers like everybody else should be evaluated.

Lindgren: What I'm guessing Rahm is betting on the thing that will resolve this, the power of the chicago parents association.

Wagner: right

Lindgren: Which I'm guessing is supremely unhappy day three of their schoolchildren, I think they're getting baby sat four hours a day and then let out into the, you know, to ... where.

Rendell: He happens to be right. Teachers should be evaluated. What the unions should be doing is trying to work with them to frame the evaluation in the fairest way possible to their members. That's what unions should be doing.

Wagner: It's worth noting what the chicago is proposing, student performance on standardized tests count toward 25% of teacher assessment would go to 40% in five years. It's hard to say look, we don't want to be evaluated. You just need to keep paying us what you're paying us.

John Heileman: A shockingly untenable position. There really are at this point in the world of teachers unions those getting with the program and those that are digging in their heels and resisting the program. There are unions that have looked at race to the top, have looked at the fact that a lot of the demands unions have made in the past have gotten in the way of things we should be focussed on, kids and their education, and they are working with reformsers to be adaptive to the new realities. others have dug in their heels. The chicago union right now looks retrograde, looks ridiculous. Rahm will win this battle.

Lindgren: I would say that one thing is for sure, it is very hard to be a Chicago schoolteacher, so I think the fact that like they have fought for a lot of these gains, will they have to give up some of those things I'm sure they will.

Rendell: but evaluations --

Heileman: nobody is asking to give anything up.

Lindgren: they are asking them to give up a 4% pay raise.

Wagner: They are, as you noted in the break, making an average of $76,000.

Rendell: look --

Wagner: let me say one thing. The narrative is somehow the teachers unions do not have the children at heart.

Time magazine reporter: No, absolutely. I think the bottom line is going to be a long and high stakes game of chicken and worth remembering what happened in washington where there was a similar game, reform was pushed through in part because there were pay rises but the mayor lost his job.

Wagner: I'm not betting against Rahm Emmanuel on this one. If there's someone i don't want to find in a dark alley at night to play a game of chicken with, Rahm Emanuel.

Heileman: smart woman.

I could be mistaken, but I think those are all supposed to be either Democrats or journalists. If I didn't know better I'd think I was watching a roundtable at the GOP convention.

We are at a point at which teachers are clearly seen as the biggest assholes in the world who should be happy to work in terrible conditions and be willing to be fired when kids don't thrive in that environment. I could never have imagined that when I was a kid. Seriously, teachers used to be considered the backbone of our culture and one of the foundations of the middle class. Now they are "retrograde and ridiculous" according to the privileged chattering classes who can't even be bothered to inform themselves of the real issues.

Here, read this lovely essay by Corey Robin about why people hate teachers. Read this piece by Rick Perlstein about what's really happening in Chicago. And read this Mother Jones explainer so you'll know when elitist jerks like John Heileman go spouting off half cocked.

Then go take a walk. I'm going to.


I keep hearing about how difficult it is to fire "bad" teachers and they should be able to get rid of tenure and union guarantees so the kids don't suffer. I wonder how many people understand that "bad" is in the eye of the beholder?

Let me tell you about my brother-in-law, a highly educated high school English and Drama teacher who teaches in Alaska. He assigned a book of Native Alaskan tales to senior students which included a vaguely sexual allegory. This is a school district with a a substantial subculture of conservative evangelicals, many of whom are extremely active in the district and have a slight majority on the school board. One of the parents complained. My brother-in-law went through months of harassment and nearly lost his job. It was the union that saved him.

You see, what you think of as bad teachers -- lazy, uninterested, whatever -- is not necessarily what other people think of as bad teachers. They want to be able to fire my brother-in-law with no recourse because he assigned a book that offended them. And I'd imagine some would like to fire a teacher who teaches evolution or Shakespeare too without having to deal with all that difficulty that a union requires. This was why academics and teachers fought for tenure in the first place.

I realize that the "teaching to the test"/evaluations issue is different. But the effect of breaking the teachers unions --- which is what this is fundamentally about, just ask Ed Rendell --- will result in "good" teachers being endangered in exactly the same way as everyone seems to want for the "bad" teachers.

If union bashing is supposed to be about what's good for the children, I think people need to think a little bit more deeply about what this really means.