Friday, March 14, 2008

Two Awful Opeds in NY Times

David Bellel places Andrew Rotherham/Eduwonk in his true role as a high-priced hooker for the phony Ed reform establishment. Anyone surprised that he loves the UFT leadership (see Vera Pavone's piece on this aspect posted March 18 here)?
Hmmm. Anyone got a good pimp picture?


Anyway, here is Leonie Haimson's take on the Op Eds in the NY Times from last Sunday (March 9.)

Highlights:

"Nice to have such so-called “balanced” opinions in our newspaper of record. Shows how strong the rightward drift has been." "Between this and the Sunday Roundtable discussion of how helpful it is when billionaires “disrupt” our schools, the NY times appears to have lost any pretense of a balanced perspective – or any anchor to reality."

The first is called “Educators or Kingmakers? “ by David White, a “adjunct scholar” at the Lexington Institute, a libertarian think tank. (Apparently, White’s main job is working for “Keybridge Communications, a boutique public relations service that works with free-market think tanks around the world.” see http://www.americasfuture.org/aff-team.php )

Here’s an excerpt: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/opinion/10white.html?th&emc=th

“Forty percent of teachers leave the classroom within their first five years on the job — in some measure because they don’t stand to gain the same performance-based pay raises available to their private-sector counterparts. Merit pay would help public schools retain good teachers by paying them more. But the unions have fought against such measures.

There is no research to show that merit pay helps reduce teacher attrition– in fact the evidence from states like North Carolina and Florida suggests the reverse, as merit pay tends to penalize and stigmatize teachers who work in low-performing schools w/ high needs students.

And : “The same can be said about school choice. Despite compelling evidence that it improves student achievement, the national teachers’ unions regularly stand against the policy. “

Again, there is no such evidence that “choice” meaning vouchers, improves student achievement. Even some of the most conservative theorists on education – eg. Sol Stern – have moved away from that position.

The other oped is called “Teaching Change” by the well-known polemicist, Andrew Rotherham, Eduwonk himself.

While he purportedly praises the UFT and some other unions for adopting merit pay and establishing their own charter schools, he proposes creating “a portfolio of contracts to match a portfolio of schools” that would supposedly “give parents better options and re-energize teachers’ unions as an agent of progress.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/opinion/10rotherham.html?ref=opinion

Nice to have such so-called “balanced” opinions in our newspaper of record. Shows how strong the rightward drift has been. Rather unsettling that now the mainstream explanation for the purported low-performance of our urban schools has become the teachers union.

The existence of such unions somehow don’t seem to hamper suburban schools from high achievement levels, but is somehow the root of all our problems in low-performing urban schools – not their high-needs populations, not their huge class sizes and overcrowded conditions, not the immense student loads that most teachers are saddled with, not the lack of commitment on the part of our elected leaders to replicate the conditions under which suburban schools thrive, but supposedly the lack of “choice” and the low skills of our urban teachers.

Between this and the Sunday Roundtable discussion of how helpful it is when billionaires “disrupt” our schools, the NY times appears to have lost any pretense of a balanced perspective – or any anchor to reality.

Leonie Haimson
Class Size Matters

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