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Telling the Truth

April 3, 2018 am30 11:12 am

A liar is someone who tells lies. That’s not the same as someone who always tells lies.

Can you imagine that? Someone who always lies, every single thing they say? That would lead to amusing logic puzzles:

– but not be very practical in the real world. In my life I’ve known two horrible liars. They have altered, twisted, falsified, subtly reimagined, or created from whole cloth story after story. “She wouldn’t tell the truth if a lie would do” said the mother of one of them. But both actually told the truth the majority of the time. What’s the weather like, are you hungry, do you have time later today… there are many mundane everyday answers that even the inveterate liar doesn’t bother to confabulate.

Many politicians are practiced liars – not as prolific as my two friends, above, but for them it is an art. They often tell the truth. And sometimes they have to tell the truth, a defensive truth, when cornered by their instinct for self-preservation.

New York State’s budget was delayed for a day last week, when Brooklyn State Senator Simcha Felder tried to exempt yeshivas from state testing standards. Felder is a Democrat from Brooklyn. He caucuses with the Republicans. And in the cesspool of New York State politics, no one better represents some of their constituents to the exclusion of the others than Felder, who is a champion for ultra-orthodox and Hassidim throughout the state (and beyond New York’s borders) at the expense of the non-Orthodox and non-Jews he nominally represents.

Felder has voted for “standards” again and again. They don’t really measure much, but they selectively pressure urban districts. Urban districts are poor, and they have large populations of Black and Hispanic students. “Standards” are a key component of the system that uses standardized tests to intimidate students, threaten teachers, and destabilize schools. Some of these include Felder’s own constituents – the ones he doesn’t represent. Felder has happily acted as part of the machine targeting other people’s kids.

But this was different. The State Education Department was planning for superintendents to visit private schools, including yeshivas. And they weren’t going to enforce “test accountability” that terrorizes the rest of us. They were going to check that the kids were receiving instruction in English, Math, and Civics.

Bravo Mr. Felder, for announcing that even the most minimal rules are to be enforced against strangers, not against our friends. Such honesty.

 

 

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