April 6, 2008
The Press: "Teachers won't go on record."
YES THEY WILL !
Many of us are really concerned that newspaper reporters aren’t, for whatever reason, telling it like it is.
Maybe their hands are tied by corporate policies. Maybe they already know of colleagues who have been axed for muckraking and are as fearful for their jobs at the paper as we are in the classroom.
Some teachers have become ed activists, though to become familiar with a spectrum of educational, sociological and political issues and actually discuss them in a variety of fora is time-consuming. Doing it on top of a full-time teaching job can just about knock you out. It requires a kind of dogged dedication to an unpaid task, not to mention some sacrifices on the homefront.
But there are those who are doing this work, and it is sad that the majority of events concerning public education get scheduled on school days, when teachers cannot attend them.
Some of these events are hearings or legislative sessions, others are conferences mounted by educational organizations, like AERA or the Manhattan Institute. It’s difficult to schedule these things other than during the day, and of course membership requirements sometimes restrict entry. But, there are political ramifications to these constraints. Those with the most hands-on classroom experience in present-day classrooms are just not in the room. They're teaching.
So, what happens? The politicos and ed “authorities” get to deliver their sometimes questionable messages in a relatively protected environment, similar to the town meetings that candidates arrange with all those stacked audiences. The speakers at these conferences might have to take a few elephant-in-the-room questions from the likes of Ravitch (ed historian), Scott (union historian, retiree), and Haimson (class size warrior), but they can for the most part avoid a barrage of adverse reaction and the embarrassment that may go along with it. That’s because the people who know what’s going on in schools are just that, in school.
It's the reporters as well who don't get much of a chance to hear from working teachers at these events. I'm not convinced all of them really want to. If one is in a self-protective mode, I can understand that, trust me.
But where does that leave us educators, and where does it leave the kids or the parents? Do we keep plugging away on these blogs, redouble our efforts in letter-writing, become more activist in our schools and put our jobs at risk?
I wrote Jennifer Medina this morning (extracted below), but it could be sent out to any of a number of other education reporters in the city’s pressrooms:
Corporate tyranny has to be exposed, because that’s just what it is, and the media who prop up their bias towards public education are very much part of the problem.
So, press. Try contacting us. We're taking calls.