Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stossel Gets Schooled

ABC's John Stossel thought the United Federation of Teachers was serious when angry members confronted him in a protest of his 20/20 expose on public education and challenged him to spend some time walking in their shoes as a teacher. When he took the union up on its offer, he got a REAL lesson about how things work in the New York City schools. It's not always about teaching and learning - it's about negotiating, meeting, re-negotiating, second-guessing, buck-passing and ultimately... deciding not to do things.

Stossel explains his new insights here:

My producers went to a meeting at the school to choose a class for me to teach. The union representative didn't come, so we were told no decisions could be made. Lots of people came to a second meeting at the school: four people from the union, one person from the city Department of Education, and administrators and teachers from Beacon. They decided I might teach history classes and "media studies," but they would have to talk to more people.

You would think my teaching had been my crazy idea. I was only trying to accept the union's offer.

I prepped for my history classes. We had more meetings. The school principal had me sit in on a class with a "superstar" teacher. It was supposed to be a history class, but he seemed to teach "victimhood in racist America." On the class door he posted a New York Times column denouncing the president for spending too much money on war. Can we say "left-wing"?

Then there were more meetings. Finally, four days before what was supposed to be my first day of class, they canceled. Officially, "they" were the public school administrators who said it might be "disruptive" and that it might "set a precedent" that would open their doors to other reporters.

UPDATE: Intercepts weighs in on this here.


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