Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Comments on NY Times Lovefest

...with BloomKlein

Joel Klein has been doing a media blitz, even saying he wants to remain beyond Bloomberg’s term in office to finish the job of driving the entire NYC school system into oblivion so it could be “rescued” by privateers. (Thousands of teachers had to be talked down from their roofs upon hearing this news.)

Boy, all you have to do is write a critical piece about the NY Times and it gets noticed. In particular the comparison of the coverage of education to the way the Times covered the weapons of mass destruction story in Iraq.

Vera Pavone, a former NYC teacher and school secretary, responded with this comment, but it deserves a post all its own.

I should point out that everyone who knows Vera and Leonie agree that these are two of the most respected, clearheaded people they know. Just to emphasize the point that critics of the NY Times are not just coming from fringeville (as a certain ed reporter from the Times once characterized me.)

“My blood started to boil when I read the article, especially because it shows the Times and their lackey reporters continuing to give credibility to the big lies:

1. "He [Klein] has sought to break what he regarded as a vise grip by the teachers' union on work rules”;
“Can't experienced reporters Herszenhorn and Medina find anyone (union leaders, teachers, other people in the educational community) who can explain how work rules actually benefit students and the educational environment?

2. "To divide large failing schools into small schools" and "to put traditional public schools into competition with charter schools"
“Couldn't H & M read their own publication to find out all the questions that have been raised about small schools and charter schools actually being more successful: getting a higher achieving pool of students and eliminating students with special needs; getting a disproportionate share of resources; forcing the larger, traditional schools to be even more overcrowded and receiving those students who have the least chance of succeeding.

3. "To end what he viewed as a monopoly by the mostly white, middle and upper middle class on good public education services"
“Do H & M really believe that Klein and Bloomberg are the champions of the non-white, non-middle class children just as the Bush administration and NCLB really want to equalize educational opportunity nationwide? Has their investigative reporting shown that quality educational services exist only in white, middle and upper middle class public schools? Do they believe that test scores tell the whole story? Even if it's true that on average teachers in higher achieving schools have more "credentials", this doesn't explain why so many highly skilled, educated, talented, and hardworking teachers don't produce higher test scores in failing schools. Both H & M have been writing about education for some time now and should be able to recognize that "good public education services" have to be suited to the needs of the students, something that is very rare now for any of our students, rich or poor, white or non-white.

“And did I miss it, or did they forget to mention class size?”


  1. Nice piece of work, Norm!

    Just a small observation.

    Leonie Haimson said:

    "David H[erzenhorm]. promised me since at least 2006 he would do a story on class size – which I’m still waiting for.

    "More recently he and Elissa Gootman said that they cannot do stories on any education issue that is not one of the Mayor’s priorities."

    What we have here is a private admission that what appears in the NY Times news in the NY Times is politically determined at the editorial level. Surprising? Unfortunately not, at least it shouldn't be.

    So, for Herzenhorm to get annoyed when his by lines are criticized is a bit amusing. On the one hand, he lets people know his hands are tied by his editors, and on the other he fails to show that he really understands the moral and personal consequences of allowing limits to be put on his journalism.

    His upsetment for being taken to task not taking full responsibility for his failure to put out the whole truth about the the DOE is simply to be taken for what it is: moral and emotional immaturity.

    For many years I have been under the impression that despite (or,more likely, because of) one's professional successes, a good newspaper man must live with a great deal of personal shame due to many, many sins of omission and commission (not to mention plain old moral cowardice, and fear) having to survive in a world where editors must be appeased and the identity and character of all sorts of sources must be kept secret.

  2. I got a pretty weird email from him - very sarcastic about whether Martine Guerrier was a persistent critic of BloomKlein - his characterization. I challenged him to come up with examples -- I had been going to a lot of PEP meetings and saw her get less and less challenging - probably due to Marty Markowitz' alliance with Bloomberg. Herzenhorn or most reporters were never at these meetings. Other newspapers also put Martine in that category.

    Teachers are very anti Post, News and Sun but often let the Times off the hook because they are not so brazen. But we have found individual reporters from these papers very receptive and they have done a better job. Andreatta from the Post did some very fair and balanced reporting -- he talked to teachers. Einhorn of the News and Elizabeth Green from the Sun have also done soem good stuff.

    So editorially, these open right wing papers seem to give their reporters more room than the Times. I know of stories that were written and killed for political reasons.

    Don't get me wrong -- I got to know Martine and found her very receptive but she has disappeared into the jaws of Tweed bureaucracy. Cooptation. Deflection.

    The UFT works the same way and I can point to people who have been bought off. At times there were even feelers out to me. As a matter of fact, just about anyone in the opposition who is willing to sell out can probably get a gig - look at New Action.


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