Posts Tagged ‘NBC’

NBC News: How Can You Trust A News Agency To Get its Facts Straight When It Can’t Even Get Your Name Straight?

February 28, 2014


Granted, at this point in time anyone who gets their nightly news from television is a damned fool and deserves whatever slop is dished out to them. And you can rest assured, whatever the subject, it will be slop. Still, one expects a modicum of something that somewhat resembles real journalism, even from NBC, producer of the risible weeklong billionaire backed infomercial for public school privatization called “Education Nation, ” featuring Goldie Hawn.

This afternoon, following in the wake of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s welcome announcement that NYC charter schools would no longer automatically receive whatever they asked for, as was the case under the endless reign of Mike Bloomberg, I was asked by my union to speak to the press, in this case, NBC News. This I did, trying to articulate as best I could the miserable and degrading experience of “co-locating “ in a building with Eva Moskowitz’s Harlem Success Academy. Indeed, my school has the unfortunate distinction of being the host in which Success Academy first began to metastasize. Soon, of course, Eva’s chain was spreading all over the city even as it slowly devoured our building, taking at first a few rooms here and there and then swallowing up an entire floor. In this painful process we lost our music room and with our music program. (It’s impossible to gauge such a loss in the life of a child but know it is immense. ) Gone soon was our computor room. Occupational therapy and physical therapy were now delivered in hallways, stairways or rooms formerly known as closets. Whatever. Storage rooms were suddenly designated classrooms. I know. I had one. Lunch schedules were reconfigured so kids were forced to eat lunch soon after they arrived. Without a word to the parents and community of our school, the school yard was rendered largely useless by the imposition of a strange, completely impractical astroturf section.

An entire school and community was distorted and contorted almost beyond recognition to satisfy Eva’s rapacious hunger for ever more space as well as Mike Bloomberg’s mad delight in delivering it, whatever the cost to the dignity of the students of our school. The atmosphere was instantly poisonous and, despite the good will and good intentions of a couple of Harlem Success business managers (who seem to run the show) , remains so. From the beginning, we were treated like unwelcome guests if not out right intruders in our own building, an attitude that was not lost on the children of either camp.

This did not come of thin air but from the top.

Year after year there was more and more encroachment; more and more often would the students of Harlem Success Academy be eerily marched by the children of my school without as much as looking at them, as if the act of making eye contact with such riff raff would somehow contaminate the charter school “scholars.” (Note: Eva ignorantly insists her teachers address their students as “scholars”, apparently not realizing that the two words mean very different things. ) Far more often than not, the refusal to recognize the common humanity of another was also shared by Eva’s ever-transient teaching brigade. It is unnerving, I assure you, to be treated as if you are invisible.
And soon enough began the annual ritual of receiving those students who Harlem Success Academy deemed not up to snuff. Out their door they went, in our door they came.
As a truly public school laboring under the ethical obligation of educating every student, regardless of how difficult, troubled or torn, such is our duty.
Not so charter schools which have the luxury of bouncing whom they will when they.

And bounce they do.

One can go on and on but I trust you get the point.

None of this would you have any chance of knowing from NBC’s report/ad for Harlem Success Academy which portrays the chain, not as the spoiled child that can afford to pay Moskowitz almost half a million dollars a year in salary, or spend more than a million dollars a year on super slick recruitment propaganda, but as a suddenly “homeless” orphan punished by a thoughtless and cruel mayor, bent on punishing them for their success. Note: Like thousands and thousands of New York parents, my daughter received in the mail a slick, professionally produced glossy postcard enticing her to enter into a brand new Success Academy that was to open in my downtown neighborhood. (It didn’t.) My daughter was five years old at the time. The Department of Education thought it a fine idea to give her address and the addresses of thousands of children out to help build Ms. Moskowitz’s burgeoning empire.

Anything for Eva.

From the beginning, a public relations campaign plowed on in several fronts, one slicker than the next. There was the full-length documentary, The Lottery. Then there was the egregious book Class Warfare in which author Steven Brill, pitting one school against another, praised Harlem Success Academy to the heavens as the same time he disgraced himself by writing of a teacher no teacher in my school had ever known. No problem!

But O, those tests scores, you may say! Do they not make up for everything ? Of that consider this timely piece.

Back to NBC News. With a few annual exceptions or in emergencies, it has been many years since I have watched “the news” on TV on a regular basis. Still, I am very aware of its effects, mostly horrific, on many of my fellow citizens. We are, after, the nation that twice elected Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (kind of) and Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, a feat of political imbecility unimaginable without the influence of TV.) Because of its insidious Education Nation, NBC seems especially contemptible to me.
Still, tonight’s “reporting” on De blasio’s decision — “The War on Charter Schools “ — was so preposterously lopsided as to be absurd, even by the absurd standards of the corporate media’s reportage on corporate education reform campaigns. The only word for it is “propaganda.” Here is my always-prescient friend and colleague NYC Educator’s take on the “report. ”

My twenty second cameo under a name not mine was meant to serve, apparently, as proof of giving both sides of the co-location story, regardless of the fact that the charter school advocates were given many, more times the time I or any other public school advocate was given.

What it really serves to prove, however, is the utter shoddiness of NBC News. Consider this: My name is Patrick Walsh, a name I clearly stated and even spelled out for the NBC reporter. In the report I am called Patrick Murphy, a fine name, to be sure, but one that does not belong to me nor I to it.
My question: how is it possible to trust a news agency to get their facts right when they not only produce slick, poisonous garbage like Education Nation, but when they can’t even get someone’s name straight ?

The Lie and Disgrace that is NBC’s Education Nation

September 22, 2013


The yearly corporate sponsored corporate education reform propaganda extravaganza Education Nation sinks lower and lower and as it does so it showers the American people with greater and greater corporate contempt. Here is an event that is billed as a “summit” of educational leaders that, as far as I can see, includes not a single teacher in a position of prominence or authority. (Sorry Weingarten and Walcott, you don’t count.)
Here is an event beamed out across America that includes not a single dissenting voice from the “reformers “ increasingly reckless experiments on American children such as the deceitfully named Common Core State Standards.
Here is an event in which the promoters are not satisfied with merely elevating non-educator hucksters like Joel Klein, (billed as the CEO of education techno firm Amplify) or David Coleman (no longer known as “the architect “ of the Common Core but rather as President and Chief Educative Officer of the College Board ) to the level of expertise but also adds the educational wisdom of non-educator Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, and non-educator politicians like Mike Bloomberg, Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan, and Bobby Jindal.

For a final spit in the face of American parents there is the inexplicable inclusion of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, singer Tony Bennett, and actress/comedienne Goldie Hawn.

Well, why not? If Joel Klein can use the “summit” on education to shill for Rupert Murdoch and Jeb Bush use it as an avenue to the presidency, why shouldn’t poor Goldie Hawn use it to get herself back into the public eye?
In short, here is a lineup for an event that is so ridiculous that it is impossible to parody.
And it would be funny if the stakes were not so high.
But they are.
A “summit” on education that is not merely not based on the experience and knowledge of teachers like Susan Ohanian but actively exclude teachers such as Ohanian is beyond a farce.

A “summit” on education that pretends to discuss “active parenting” and does not include the likes of Leonie Haimson and Class Size Matters is a sin.

A “summit” on education that does not include the political insights of Lois Weiner is a disgrace. A “ summit” on education that does not include the voice and vision of CORE’s Karen Lewis is a sham.

A “summit” on any aspect of education today that systemically excludes the moral and intellectual authority of Diane Ravitch is simply a lie and it should be identified as such.

And this should be done again and again and again and in any way, shape, or form that people who are meant to be brainwashed by this egregious show of money and influence will understand. NBC and the forces that created this thing are counting on our silence. We must not be so.

A City in Darkness

November 1, 2012

As I write downtown Manhattan, from 40th Street to the Battery, is in a state of almost total darkness. What illumination there is at all is comes from the passing   headlights of cars and trucks and by flashlights held by held by pedestrians rushing home from work and your occasional  dog walker.

As the sun went down I did something I will not do again: I cycled to midtown where there is a friend with electricity on a mission to recharge my daughter’s DVD player, so disappointed she was by the de facto cancellation of Halloween.  Allowing  her to watch a movie  — some semblance of normalcy amidst this primal existence — was   my way of trying to make things a little better for her.  Nearing Bellevue Hospital I begin to see the huge antennae of the media vans – ABC. NBC, CNN and a host of others.  Ambulances are doubled parked by the dozens in front of the hospital. Others are speeding off uptown somewhere. I stop and ask one of the media people why they are there.  Bellevue is being evacuated, she says.  Something about generators failing that I don’t quite catch, the wailing of the sirens deafening all.

It is an eerie sight and a chilling sound as ambulance after ambulance speeds past wailing into the distance, off to God knows where as NYU hospital was evacuated the day before.

I charge my girl’s DVD player and head by home.  It is only 7:00 pm but feels like midnight.  Time has become very, very bendy and the landscape of the city is nothing short of   surreal and spooky.  That much the more if you are trying to navigate your way home 40 odd blocks on a bicycle in a lightless world without traffic lights.  The traffic moves slowly, in fits and starts, with a great and welcome sense of hesitation.  At one point I pulled over to the sidewalk and took it in, this bizarre scene like something out of a horror movie of a city fleeing itself, a river of red taillights as far as the eye could see within the silhouette of towering buildings in a sea of blackness.

I have never seen anything like it.

Somehow, at least as far as I can see, it seems to work.  No one is plowing into each other and the infamous New York rage is held in check. But sirens wail constantly and fire trucks and cops cars are everywhere.  Vowing to not pull this stunt again, all I want to do is make it back to my family on the Lower East Side in one piece.

This I do but not before stopping off at the Catholic Worker to see if I might be able to peach some of their famous hearty soups ( and hearty it is ! ) as we are unable to cook and our bones are cold for lack of heat.

With more soup than any three people can possibly eat we enjoy a very welcome hot meal in our candle lit 19th century tenement abode, my daughter thrilled by the simple joy of being able to watch Scooby Doo.

I set out to walk our friend’s dog, a routine I normally enjoy, but in the complete darkness of the Lower East Side Streets, it is one fraught with unease and even fear. Even carrying a flashlight, the   darkness is, to say the least, un-nerving.  Here and there human forms move swiftly on the sidewalks, appearing seemingly out of nowhere.   I find myself walking in the middle of the road.  Everyone is keeping their distance and attempting, I suspect, not to appear afraid.  It is both fascinating and scary.  It occurs to me that this shadowy night world was the nocturnal reality for civilizations for all but the last hundred years or so.  It is a world of mystery and a world of mystery is a world of imagination.  Imagination and fear.

But we are habituated by electricity and are not accustomed to darkness  and are not about to be so anytime soon.  Something has changed down here in the last 24 hours.   The night before we three set out to take a walk and take in what Sandy had wrought and found hundreds of people doing the same.  There was almost a spirit of holiday in the air.  Not so tonight.  Unlike last night when one saw crowds of people out for a stroll taking in the novelty of a New York Unplugged, tonight one sees only shadows and dog walkers.   The novelty, it seems, has worn off and a definite spookiness that has nothing to do with Halloween seems to fill the air.

It is unlike anything I have ever experienced and one I am bound to re-experience for the next few days at least. Nothing to do but take it in.



Addendum:  Today as I passed Bellevue on my way to the Mid-Manhattan Library, the army of ambulances was still doubled parked out front.  The evacuation continues.