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Way to go, Ariel

November 11, 2009 pm30 11:48 pm

The MSM loves when teachers attack teachers unions and other teachers … and I hate it.

The Daily News ran an anti-union opinion piece by a teacher (Matt Polazzo) a week and a half ago. (Maintaining their recent pattern of good education reporting and awful, anti-teacher, anti-experience editorials and opinions)

And Gotham Schools, steeped in anti-experience, pro-charter bias, reran a blog post by Ariel Sacks, in which she seemed to disparage ATRs who had been assigned to her school.

Sacks is a middle school teacher in Brooklyn. She is part of the Teachers Leaders Network. And she writes about work. Lots of progressive education, which readers here know I have some issues with it. I neither embrace nor totally reject that kind of teaching. But keeping the middle ground does mean I dispute some of its premises. Some of the classroom stuff I am more interested in. And things like merit pay, no.

So she writes about the three ATRs who appeared in her school. And asks some hard questions about them.

They could have been fair questions, if we were not facing down a Mayor and Chancellor who are looking to undermine experienced teachers, to break tenure, to destroy seniority, etc, etc. But context matters, and in the current political climate, the questions she asked about the senior teachers involuntarily assigned to sub in her school could easily be used those interested in attacking the union overall and experienced teachers in particular. Could be used. And were used. By Gotham Schools.

Unlike the original post, which had a handful of relatively thoughtful comments (though I disagree with most), the repost on Gotham Schools generated over 100 comments, many by anti-teacher, anti-senior teacher ideologues. The storm continues even today, over three weeks since Ariel posted and almost three weeks since Gotham Schools reprinted.

But something happened that I didn’t expect. Sacks noticed what was happening, and clarified. She didn’t back down from what she had said, but she recognized the context:  her remarks, designed to ask hard questions, were being used to bash teachers.

Her follow-up post, What should due process look like? addresses related issues, and I think she still gets the questions more wrong than right, but she frames them in a way that they cannot be used by teacher bashers.

Responsible discussion, responsible disagreement, even among teachers, is often too much to ask. But not this time. Credit where it is due.


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