For the past decade American public school teachers have been attacked like no legal profession in our history. None. The attacks have been particularly prevalent of late in New York due to the extraordinary ultra right wing proposals of Governor Andrew Cuomo, he who has vowed to break “the last monopoly,” formally known as the public school system. Indeed, one can scarcely pick up a newspaper these days, especially in New York, and not find some ignorant editorial or columnist pontificating about the pernicious state of American public school education, the treachery of teacher unions and the wisdom of Cuomo’s proposals: this despite the fact that the latter is nothing more than a litany of repeatedly failed or wholly discredited whims and notions — on steroids.
No matter. None of this stuff has anything to do with education anyway so…
Central to them all is the myth of the un-fire-able bad teacher who, for the sake of the nation, must be fired but can’t be. ( For a truly insidious example of this see the November 2014 Time Magazine.)
Alas! Where is Ronald Reagan with his jet black hair on his bold white horse when we need him?
No need to despair: We now have Andrew Cuomo in Albany who has moved further to the right on this stuff than Reagan ever dared.
Firing teachers has become the idee fixe of both reformers and their pals in media who, through constantly echoing this idiocy, are doing their best to insure it seeps into the skulls of the overworked and exhausted masses in a process not unlike osmosis.
This is one of the ways in which perception management works.
It might be working.
If one is to remain relatively sane under such ceaseless attacks, it is by both fighting back and finding humor in them wherever one can, even of the dark variety which invariably it is. It was dark humor, I’ve been told by friends who have survived totalitarian regimes of both the left and right, that allowed them to persevere under the constant absurdity, cruelty and indignity of related propaganda campaigns. Sometimes it’s impossible to find such humor and sometimes it’s just there, like an unexpected gift at your door. Yesterday’s Daily News editorial attacking nothing less than the “impotence” of New York City Chancellor of Education Carmen Farina who, like all knowledgable and actual educators, is dead set against Cuomo’s proposals, was one such gift.
The editorial board of the News, not an educator among them, is or pretends to be both mystified and horrified by Farina’s complete rejection of Cuomo’s wisdom, a wisdom that centers on almost completely avoiding the realities of education and focusing almost entirely on creating reasons to fire teachers, while making the as-yet-to-be-fired teachers as miserable, demoralized and powerless as possible. In short, it is slightly veiled union busting. Very slightly. After all, the man did vow to “break the last monopoly.” Under the pretense of “reforming” the public school system, Cuomo is attempting to systemically degrade the profession of teaching beyond recognition, to the place where no sane person with any choice whatsoever would ever even consider entering it and most who foolishly do will soon enough be out of it. Farina, a life long educator — indeed, the only New York City chancellor to be an educator in 12 eternal years — knows this well and, more, knows how reckless if not outright insane Cuomo’s proposals are. More: she knows what they will do — what they must do — to the students and schools who are served by such a system. The News, alas, is clueless.
Or pretends to be.
“All this isn’t just deeply depressing, it’s especially ironic,” they write. “As a principal and district superintendent, Farina became famous for turning around schools by giving bad teachers walking papers.”
What happened, they wonder, to make this former teacher-firing dynamo so wimpy and irresponsible that, in no time at all, she has degenerated “apparently to the poisonous point of giving failing educators a pass?”
What happened, The News insinuates, can be discerned in a profile in Sunday’s New York Times which ” reveals how cozy Mayor de Blasio’s Department of Education, led by Fariña, is getting with teachers union boss Michael Mulgrew.”
What happened, we are left to deduce, is that Farina, a 70 year old grandmother, was evidently the victim of some kind of mystical Irish super whammy voodoo by evil Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT, and under his diabolical spell the woman has completely lost her values, her ethics, indeed, her entire sense of reality. In the process she has completely sold out the children of New York City whom she vowed to educate. How else to explain how this once child protecting educator has become little more than an adult protecting Mulgrew zombie ?
How else to explain her bizarre and “dumb” rejection of Cuomo’s “smart” proposals?
Further evidence of Farina’s descent into Mulgrew- induced madness is cited in the letter signed by Mulgrew and Farina and sent out to the 1200 NYC school principals obliging them to cease harassing teachers by collecting their lesson plans. Of this the News writes thunderously: “Two unnamed high school principals “chafed” upon reading the directive.
That’s right, two principals. Of 18,31. So what if that’s even less than 1% of the 1% who own 40% of the nations’ wealth, many of who have bankrolling “education reformers” like Cuomo for years. So what if they were unnamed. So are the editors who wrote the editorial. That alone doesn’t make them wrong. And, like Campbell Brown, don’t they need to protect themselves against the wrath of uber-violent teachers? And you better believe those two principals were seriously chafing.
And why wouldn’t the two principals chafe, coming to terms with the chilling realization that it is perhaps only the editorial board of the News, Governor Cuomo, Meryl Tish, Wall Street, President Obama, the richest people and the most powerful politicians on earth and themselves who are trying so desperately to hold adults accountable and stand up for the kids against the ungodly and evidently irresistible maneuvers of Michael Mulgrew and the teachers’ union ?
Thus Spake The Daily News: “Over to you, Governor.”