Shame Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Say? Plus Edujobs!

One additional thought on this “shaming” issue per the Gates op-ed. Before everyone gets too self-righteous about all of this I don’t think the LAT set out to shame anyone and I think there is little evidence of that. Rather, they saw a set of data they thought were newsworthy and told a story and then went and told it.  You can disagree with that decision because of the nature of the data and the context – I do, and think it should have been handled differently and that the New York situation should be as well once those data are out – but it was (and is) a news and editorial decision not a punitive one or one with malicious intent.

There is a comms job open at Students First.  And if you’re into ed tech SIIA has a really cool role open for a policy and market analyst.

15 Replies to “Shame Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Say? Plus Edujobs!”

  1. I guess Rigoberto Ruelas, who committed suicide after he was outed as an “ineffective” teacher, saw the same newsworthy data.

    And the bankers that foreclose on people after giving them shady mortgages are just doing their jobs as well.

    The Bain Capital types who exist to “downsize” people are also just doing their jobs.

    There is a term to describe the type of mechanical “doing your job” mindset you describe: the banality of evil.

    Media outlets in NYC made a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to make what was supposed to be private data public. It is not like the media outlets in NY just had this info fall into their laps. They actively sought it out, leading to a long series of court battles.

    They did this despite the fact that the data was limited, unreliable and supposedly only meant for the eyes of the district and the union.

    One wonders where this type of media vigilance was in the run-up to the mortgage crisis, or in the trillions of dollars in secret Fed bailouts to big banks.

    I guess the only newsworthy story is publishing arbitrary numbers next to teachers’ names.

  2. Exactly, Assailed. Something smells rotten. If the NYT really thinks it is doing the right thing, that is even more reprehensible than being on the take. This is a disgrace. If one accepts a job with foreknowledge of possible outing errr, publishing of personnel data, that would be one thing but somehow I doubt NYT teachers saw this coming.

  3. I agree with Assailed Teacher and jmiller that publishing the teachers’ scores is a shady practice — In my opinion, it’s just part and parcel of the popular “teacher/union bashing” trend that’s so prevalent in the media today – practiced by both “liberal” and “conservative” news media. I have no idea why teachers are the new fun scapegoat target of the press, but this needs to stop before we drive more high-quality prospective teachers away from the profession.

  4. Not sure what the NYS or NYC FOIA provisions are. But, under the federal FOIA, the teachers’ student test scores would have been exempt from disclosure as personnel records and, even if subject to disclosure, would have had the individual teachers’ names redacted under the personal privacy exemption. Makes me wonder just how hard NYC schools fought to protect the info from disclosure.

    Will the NYC newspapers now file FOIA requests for the personal evaluations of each NYC employee (including police, fire, and aides to VIPs) and then publish that info?

  5. If a teacher received outstanding evaluations from his administrators and then was branded as “least effective” by the newspaper, could he or she file a civil suit? Has anyone done so yet?

  6. Linda/RT —
    So long as what the newspaper published was accurate (that is, that the information published in the newspaper was the information given to the newspaper by NYC school management) and so long as the newspaper accurately described what the information was (that is, said that these are the VAM ratings in the NYC school files), the newspaper would not be liable for defamation.

  7. It seems so unjust, especially since the testing experts generally agree that these VAM ratings may or may not be reliable. Therefore it is entirely possible that an excellent teacher could receive a low score, especially if she has a class full of students who are significantly below grade level.

  8. From the New York Times:

    Karen Fine, a teacher at P.S. 134 in Manhattan, responding on SchoolBook to her own report:

    I first want to correct that for the academic year of 2009-2010 I taught Social Studies only to several fifth-grade classes and did not teach either English Language Arts or Mathematics, but may be held accountable for that year in the released data. My own data report issued to me by the Department of Education shows that for the year I did teach English Language Arts and Mathematics, 2008-2009, my “score” was 97 for English Language Arts and 65 for Math. When I checked on the DOE website today, the reading score was the same, but the math score appeared to have been changed to a much lower score. A subheading beneath 2008-2009 said “Last Two Years,” but again, I did not teach these subjects in ’09-10 and the scores for 2010-11 were not formulated into a value-added number. If this flawed analysis appears complex, it is, and should not be used for such high stakes purposes as firing a teacher. I hope one day the people leading the cruel scapegoating of teachers, find their conscience. They are ruining public education with reforms that are based on junk math and pseudo-science, and students will pay the price along with their teachers as the curriculum is further narrowed to teach to these tests. Creativity, critical thinking, questioning and exposure to the abstract will be supplanted by the limited learning of how to choose the best answer to a test question. It is deadening to teachers and their students, and it’s very sad.

    But Ms Fine, this must be done for the greater good. And if, as a result of this, 100% of the students score at proficient or advanced, wasn’t it worth a few hurt souls.
    That’s Mr. Rotherham’s argument.

  9. What makes this so blatantly immoral is the fact that the people who are pushing for the publication of these scores know very well that they may or may not reflect accurately on the effectiveness of the teacher.

    The good news is that the vast majority of people, including Bill Gates, know that publicly labeling teachers as “ineffective” is morally wrong and counterproductive.

  10. Thanks Phillip. That’s just ugly. Will the NYC teachers stage a job action? Something, to protest publicly this heinous situation is really needed. I would, but I don’t live there. I’ve blogged however in my area.

  11. this sfh>t is going to start a f*cking revolution. Publish my scores and see what happens…..

    lawsuit for what? They already ran you over! IT’s too late!

    The only lawsuit that is legal and ready, is the stupid shit head principle’s who are moving around students two weeks before the test to help out there old folk cronies. If you are in this situation, get legal help and do not ask Union for help because they support it.

    It’s time for good teachers to start a revolution. Fuck the system and fuck you for publishing any teachers’ scores……….

    Fuck the principle, fuck education in general if you are going to put my name on the line and give me your crony’s scores…… bunch of fucking twitches anyway

    fuck spelling and fuck the English language

  12. Malicious intent?

    The sailor turned the sea water valve commencing a scram on the submarine reactor.

    It was not malicious. Should he have known.

    Ostensibly, the NYT journalists are responsible, experienced, intelligent, and educated at only the very best schools.

    This is cowardice on your part, Mr. wonk.


  13. I grew up in a family with a professional think tank economist. Both my parents were tenured faculty at a great university, an elite university. My father was a professor of social science. My mother was an elite economist. She did part time work for think tanks.

    She was on a first name basis with Mr. Sowell. She co-authored loads of studies at the Hoover Institution.

    I watched the routine. Lots of late night work in her home office. Lots of calls. Lots of group work and data collections and combinations of previous studies. Lots of travel to talk to Congress and other DC influentials. Lots of talk to powerful special interests who provided dough. Around the clock conversations with other influentials around the world interested in SPREADING THE CAUSE. In all honesty, her work looked more like a religious calling than true scientific analysis.

    She had a team of workers, and shared a team nationwide with many other economists. This army of workers cranked out data, wrote summaries, ran the regression analyses, and pretty much wrote the reports. She read them, critiqued them, signed off, and then sent them off for peer review. It was a mighty fine little industry with really high pay and almost NO scrutiny.

    She spent much of her time wrestling for funding from all kinds of sources: Some were very private, some were not so private, and SOME WERE PUBLIC FUNDS.

    It provided her, my father, and me with a really cushy life. I mean a really nice life filled with nice things. I lived near a beautiful campus, only rubbed elbows with the best people, did what I wanted and when I wanted to, and did not associate with anyone but university folks and kids.

    Later in her life, She got sick and died, and some of her last words to me were:

    I am so happy you are NOT an economist. Much of what I did is meaningless. You were a good son. You have done the right things. I am happy you studied math and physics. I am proud you served your country.

    And so, when you hear me deride these clever little nitwits who spend their lives arguing ad infinitum about their petty studies and insignificant findings, remember my background. I lived the life as a think tank child and saw it for what it is: Publish at all costs, and damned be who gets hurt by it. I love my mother, but the unintended consequence of her work was the perpetuation of ego and opinions that go to the dustbin within weeks.

    And I remember my mother saying to her colleagues:”We will make this adjustment in the next study.” That is think tank speak for “We really screwed up, but people like us NEVER admit we were wrong.”

    I love her, but I condemn her work: Dusty piles of moldy paper, hid away in the dark recesses of some think tank and pulled out by the pundits when they are late on their next attack piece.

    And that is the life of the think tank.

  14. BTW, when she died I got sacked with coordinating her retirement benefits for my father.

    He now gets a check courtesy of California state taxpayers from PERS in the amount of $8,000 per month with life time health benefits.

    She had tenure for life by the way. She taught, as i remember, one course per semester. And I remember that since childhood.

    There needs to be some perspective on who the critics of public teachers are, and were they come from.

    Another interesting little vignette since class distinction is all the rage now.

    My daughter graduated from the University of California.

    Many of her professors, receiving public pay, live at Hope Ranch.

    Yep, they are uber concerned about public school teacher pay, and yet live in enclaves reserved for only this nation’s most wealthy. This is done at TAXPAYER EXPENSE.

    Unless some dose of reality returns to the debate of public education at all levels, the inhuman treatment of teachers will only continue.

    I am no fighter. I was a fighter. My feeling is that I will take it on the head, and see what happens.

    This is a very high stake game being played here. The smart money is NOT on the table. In this game even those who win lose.

    Even in winning the debate the think tankers come out as pretty low down cowardly twits. They earned it. Let them build their monuments of dusty paper. They deserve it.

  15. My best friend is a professor of engineering and recently interviewed in CA for a tenured position of mechanics at the most elite university in the state.

    I asked about pay and benefits. He listed it: Guaranteed tenure on the first day of work, a teaching schedule of one class per semester as pro-bono work, free tuition for his children, and a guaranteed pay package in the middle six figures.

    In later correspondence, he told me his rationale was that he knew how good the UC system was, and wanted his children in that mix since his taking the position guaranteed their admission to the university of his choice in the state.

    He turned down the job because another country offered him a better deal.

    He and I had an interesting talk about these negotiations. He said they were ridiculous and that he had no idea why he could be paid so much and given so much. He said that is was offered and so he would ask for it.

    I asked him about the other disciplines. He smiled and said that much of what the social sciences said was entirely incomprehensible to him and that their mathematics were JUNK.

    Honestly, those of us outside the think tank loop MUST BE MORE CIRCUMSPECT. These policy makers MUST PROVE IT, and then STAND BY their claims. Like the rest of us, they MUST FAIL when their studies do not deliver the results they promise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.