Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pride and Prejudice: Seward Darby on ATRs in the New Republic

The New Republic's Seward Darby clearly an ed deformer supporter, attended the Mar 28 Grassroots Education Movement conference on closing schools, charter schools and ATRs. She signed in but did not identify herself as a reporter. Her negative report (School's Out Forever by Seward Darby in The New Republic) is dripping with so much bias and venom, don't get wet reading it. Teachers grumble. They furrow their brow. They shout. The dress of a few people are described for negative effect.

Participants at the March meeting--sponsored by a self-described "dissenting caucus" of the UFT--are leading a campaign to get the city to repeal its mutual-consent policy, including the ATR. And they echoed Weingarten's grievance (though they also called her a "failed labor leader" for agreeing to scrap forced placement in the first place)."

Darby made no attempt to explore the true roots of dissent, that the organizers of the conference represent some of the most progressive teachers in NYC, and that the issues of closing schools and high stakes tests are part of the ATR equation.

"Meanwhile, as states look for ways to qualify for federal stimulus money by committing to increasing teacher effectiveness,
New York stands as one model of what not to do."

I've collected a series of Darbyisms from this "journalist" less than two years out of college, clearly an expert in urban education. Note how every teacher is presented with a negative description. And all seem to be vets, ignoring the fact that the conference attracted a mixed bag of newer and older teachers.

Darby is a shill. Numerous quotes from TNTP's Tim Daly but never mention his contracts with the city and what he has to gain by attacking ATRs. Using quotes from Daly and TNTP on ATRs, which has large contracts in NYC to train new teachers, is like using Dick Cheney as a resource on weapons of mass destruction.

"I'm happy now," one such teacher told TNTP researchers. "I don't have to prep, I don't have to grade tests, I don't have my own class. I don't really have to do anything."

Take one quote and apply it to all 1400? I guess Darby didn't have the time to read the comments from ATRs who sent in numerous resumes but didn't get one call. Daly forgot to talk to them too. She had the opportunity to talk directly to many ATRs in the room but chose to use this old quote from TNTP.

"Perhaps worst of all, the ATR is part of what was supposed to be an effort to free New York from the stranglehold its powerful teachers' union" [Stanglehold? Has Darby been awake at all?]

The battle over teacher hiring is why, on a Saturday afternoon in late March,
a group of angry veteran teachers gathered in a chilly Manhattan classroom. They were there to protest the ATR. Sitting at desks scattered haphazardly [look at these people,can't even straighten the desks.] through the room, the educators shouted complaints as one woman scribbled notes on sheets of paper taped to the blackboard. They decried New York's mayor, his chancellor of education, and school principals, and they lamented this cabal's primary goal: to replace experienced educators with younger recruits. "A lot of principals don't want teachers who've been around for a while because when they say jump, we'll say, 'Why?'" one woman cried, her brow furrowing with anger. "A twenty-two-year-old would say, 'How high?'

"It's like in the nineteenth century, when people were thrown off farms and had to live in crummy parts of cities,"
grumbled one teacher, slumped at his desk in snakeskin cowboy boots and a shirt emblazoned with the UFT logo.

sense of entitlement dates back to 1961, when the newly formed UFT challenged the weak job security and low pay of the teaching profession.

But the plan is
deeply flawed because, in 2005, UFT refused to sacrifice its commitment to lifelong job security. It won the ATR, which means that, while displaced teachers have to compete for jobs, there is no consequence if they do not find them. They would simply get paid to wait in the ATR."

TNTP found no hiring bias against ATR teachers.[Do they have a dog in the race?]

Wearing black boots, army pants, and a skin-tight shirt that said "undefeated," a reserve teacher standing by a snack table declared himself a "political prisoner."

retired teacher shouted that the city's attacks on seniority and job guarantees "will make the AIG crooks look like gold." [THAT's ME and I don't shout. I just speak loudly. Of course she took this out of context.]

Today, teachers lingering for months, even years, in the reserve are more likely than the rest of the city's educators to have "unsatisfactory" performance ratings, [DEBUNKED BY EDUWONKETTE] and many haven't applied for new jobs online, [HOW ABOUT DATA? "MANY" MEANS EXACTLY HOW MANY?] where the city maintains an employment database, or attended a job fair.

Chicago, one of the only other big U.S. school systems to adopt mutual consent, allows teachers to remain in reserve for ten months,
after which they are removed from the public payroll.

because of growing opposition and outrage from the UFT and
teachers clinging to the past.

Lots of code words here. Note the negative descriptions, ignoring the people who spoke so eloquently at the conference. Darby was in the same room I was but was wearing narrow blinkers

I especially like this one:
Another woman holding an issue of the International Socialist Review silently shook her head.

Wow, and red-baiting too. Way to go Seward.

She emailed me to say she would call to interview me. The call never came. But why hear all sides of the issue when you are out to do a hatchet job in the first place?

Can you spell s-h-o-d-d-y j-o-u-r-n-a-l-i-s-m?


JW said...

I read her article, and you did a great job debunking her bunk.

The people who backed this article should have put the word "ADVERTISEMENT" up at the top, just to alert readers they're trying to sell something here.

Here's another bit from her text:
"Today, the vast majority of displaced teachers are rehired, and most approve of mutual consent."

Yes, teachers move around and change jobs, but I was unaware that the vast majority of "displaced" teachers are rehired. Those are the excessed ones, not the voluntary job-changers. Does anyone have any data on this statement? I know RW and crew kept going on about more teacher mobility since the last contract, but I never heard her or anyone else say anything about vast numbers of DISPLACED teachers having found new accommodations. And of course we'd also need to know if the "vast majority" of ones who did find jobs were of the cheap and malleable kind. Would love some data on both of these questions, girl. Got any?

(Not to mention our gal journalist here used the wrong word when she said "rehired." Teachers never had to be "rehired" because they never came off a payroll. ATRs continue to work, and the DoE continues to pay them. The DoE also set obstacles, like shifting salary calculations off to the school level instead of keeping them centralized and equalized.

Tenure is what makes it possible to even consider becoming a teacher in NYC, where they pay people with advanced degrees 15-25K less a year than in neighboring counties for dealing with classes a 1/3 - 1/2 larger.

I agree with Norm. A shill, plain and simple. Suckled at the same tit as the TFA grad students from Ivy League colleges who pass through inner-city school systems on the way to bigger and better jobs.

Norm said...

Good work JW. She ignored the potentially powerful alliance being formed between the most progressive teachers in the system who see testing for what it is in terms of degrading the process for teachers and students while they link that issue to closing schools which create ATRs. That was a major theme of the March 28 conference and she was blind to it.

Anonymous said...

Darby you should come and see the lime = teaching fellow we have in my school. She doesn't know how to write a lesson plan. She talks all the time about her life and does not teach at all.