Sunday, November 24, 2013


One of my education posts last week generated some debate fun on a facebook comment thread.  Because I was asserting that the whole "unions protect bad teachers" thing is a false education "problem" in light of the fact that it's really poverty, more than anything else, that creates the appearance of "failing" schools, an old buddy, very anti-union, pressed me on this with a segment from a John Stossel hit piece on teacher unions. 

As much as serial liar Stossel makes my skin crawl, I promised to watch it, which I did earlier this evening.  Of course, I took a few notes on the experience:

1. Oh, look!  A whole bunch of rules presented as "evidence" that unions run the school.  Of course, we don't really get to see what those rules are, but there sure are a bunch of 'em!  It's got to be just horrific!  All those rules!  This is akin to when angry Republicans in Congress brandish a big bill at the podium to show how awful a law it is just because it's a big bill.  This isn't an argument.  It's a joke, totally without meaning, except that the person using the tactic is willing to lie in order to make a point.  And that's exactly what Stossel is doing here, lying.

2. And now we have a corporate CEO commenting on education.  WTF?  Corporations are about making money by selling a product or service.  Education is about creating citizens.  It is beyond absurd to compare these two missions.  The former has a clear bottom line, profit.  The latter is over-the-top intangible, without seeing any real payoff for years or even decades after the fact.  Applying capitalistic principles to education is beyond stupid.  Children are not products on an assembly line; they're human beings.  Really, this is just insulting.

3. Now he's going after the contract length.  Just because going after all those rules was so much fun a few minutes ago.  See point 1 above.

4. And now we get a horror story!  Some kind of sexual offender!  Well sure.  Lots of teachers out there.  It only stands to reason that there will be a few bad apples.  I mean, we don't propose to completely change the way we approach policing, even though the corruption and abuse of power among American police forces easily dwarfs what we see among teachers.  One horror story isn't data.  It's a scare tactic.  And really bad journalism.  Actually, it's not even journalism.  It's demagoguery. 

5. So this district had a "rubber room" where they send teachers they want to fire but can't because of bad unions.  And does Stossel even attempt to look at the individual cases involved here?  No.  Of course not.  Because a lot of these teachers may very well have some good points to make.  But that would undermine Stossel's cheap-shot rhetoric.  This is some sleazeball shit.  Totally intellectually dishonest.  That is, lying.

6. A six hour and forty minute day.  Oh my.  Awful, awful, awful, isn't it?  Stossel pretends to be completely unaware of how much off-the-clock work teachers, all teachers, do all year long, every freaking day.  But he's just pretending.  He has to know.  How could he not?  Anybody who knows any teacher knows this.  There's another word for "pretending."  It's "lying."  What a disgusting insult.  Stossel is a total scum sucking pig.

7. And now, after a commercial break, Stossel presents the charter scam as some sort of school system salvation.  Oh please.  Charter schools, as a concept, aren't a solution to anything.  They're a collection of educational experiments.  A few of them, in fact, outperform public schools, as would be expected.  But most of them either equal public school performance or do worse.  And that's with some advantages the public schools don't have, like accepting only the students they want, or kicking out whoever they don't like.  Public schools, in contrast, have to educate whoever comes in the door.  And Stossel presents charter schools uncritically, and irrationally, as a panacea for all that ails the schools.  This is a rigged game he's playing, aimed at making the public schools look bad without making any attempt at all to actually solve problems.  That is, Stossel is a lying piece of dog excrement.

8. Oh god.  And now come the vouchers.  Same smoke and mirror game as with charter schools.  Teach the students you want, claim victory, and discard the students you don't want.  Some solution.

This piece of "journalism," if you want to call it that, is truly a load of horse crap.  Nonetheless, ABC presented it as "news."  I fear for people who consume this kind of BS without really knowing what's going on, but that's probably most Americans who are genuinely concerned with the issue of education.  Indeed, the public discourse on education, which is totally misguided, reflects this.  The whole national conversation is irreparably flawed and wrong, and that's because demagogues like Stossel have the megaphone, which is denied to the people who know the reality.  It's just totally tragic.  We will pay a steep price for this.

As for me, after watching Stossel's act of explosive video defecation, I feel all the more justified in my absolute contempt for education "reformers."  They're TOTALLY full of shit.  Not a single legitimate point from any of them.  And they are steadily destroying American schools.  Hanging's too good for 'em.