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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teachers are losing the "Teacher Wars"!

In Alexander Nazaryan’s New York Times book review of Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein he spoke as if she was being fair and balanced to both sides and we see how well that has worked in cable news. He gives the impresion the book is about how there is an equivolancy between teachers and their represenatives and those trying to reform education. The problem is there isn’t.

He wrote, While Ms. Goldstein is sympathetic to the unionized public-school teacher, she also thinks the profession is hamstrung by a defensive selfishness, harboring too fine a memory for ancient wounds. By ancient does he mean ongoing? Teachers are given all of the responsibility but none of the authority to educate our children in an era of diminishing resources, where they are blamed for not being able to overcome the problems of society, poverty, violence and apathy, while being saddled with experimental curriculums like common core and subjected to VAM evaluations the department of education admits to being wrong over a third of the time. I’m a teacher and I ask you just when am I supposed to get over this?  

He then went on to use Albert Shanker a former union boss, who never gets praised by the right for coming up with charter schools but who is often criticized for saying, I don’t represent children I represent teachers, to prove his and the books point that unions have been out of touch. The problem is he never said it and for either Nazarryan or Goldstein to perpetrate this myth is irresponsible and bad journalism and may just show their biases.

But worst of all where are the mentions of the hundreds and hundreds of charter schools that have opened, taken public money and closed leaving families in a lurch, over 260 of them have done so in my home state of Florida alone.  Or how about the charter schools that council out poor performers and kids with academic problems, don’t take disabled or ESOL students, suffer from massive staff turnover or the millions they spend to influence policy? Nowhere, but I’m supposed to get over some ancient slights.

I found his last statement the most repugnant of all. “Watching a great teacher at work can feel like watching a magic show,” Ms. Goldstein writes after visiting an elementary school in Newark. Her book is, above all, a tribute to these magicians, a plea for more wizards in the classroom. As if this makes up for union and teacher bashing for several paragraphs.

A plea for more wizards in the classroom? Teaching is hard work not magic and we will see less and less of it as the teaching profession is being reduced to a service profession. At the same time magic solutions are often all that the reform movement is offering.  

There are problems in education, problems created by inadequate resources and by pretending poverty does not exist. The answer is not to demonize and marginalize teachers but to fix the problems.  Siphoning away even more resources and outsourcing our children’s education to the reform movement who often is more concerned with bottom line than educating our children something the review also fails to mention, are not solution we should entertain.  

There is a war against public school teachers and public education going on, and sadly those seeking to profit off it, including "fair and balanced" authors are winning.


  1. I've read Goldstein's "Teacher Wars", and I didn't think the same as the NYT fool of a reviewer wrote.

    I thought the 175 years of history up to the Epilogue was a defense of public education in spite of all too many foolish fast-food cooks stirring the pot.

    Where I felt she fell short was in the Epilogue where she made a few lame suggestions to improve education.

    It was as if she had missed the point from her own research and didn't see what could help improve an already successful public education system that has a long list of wins compared to a few loses and has done that while under attack from a long time by an endless list of fake education reformers.

  2. Shanker never said anything along the lines of "I don't represent children, I represent teachers." That quote was fabricated in the 1980's by an anti-union right wing Texas newspaper. Another variation of that false quote claims that Shanked will represent children when they pay dues.

    As far as charter schools, Shanker envisioned them as small school laboratories which would work with failing students to find solutions and share them with the public schools. Vermin such as Eva Moskowitz, Geoffrey Canada, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan perverted the movement. They excluded the very students they were supposed to help, skimmed the best students from the public schools through rigged lotteries, and used charter schools to enrich their cronies and destroy public schools.