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John Stossel: Accepting the Teacher Union's Offer (Or Not)
Creator's Syndicate ^ | April 5, 2006 | John Stossel

Posted on 04/05/2006 2:07:04 AM PDT by RWR8189

Last month, 500 angry schoolteachers assembled outside my office. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) was furious that "Stupid in America," a "20/20" show I did on education, suggested that some union teachers were lazy. They shouted that I didn't understand how difficult teaching was, and chanted, "Shame on you!"

Randi Weingarten, head of New York City's union, took the microphone and hollered, "Just teach for a week!" She said I could select from many schools. "We got high schools, we got elementary schools, we got junior high schools!"

I accepted. I even said I'd let the union pick the school. I thought I'd learn more about how difficult teaching is. Above all, it was a chance to get our cameras into schools -- something the N.Y. bureaucracy had forbidden -- so we could show you what was really going on.

But it won't happen.

Like most of our dealings with the union, nothing was easy. It took weeks of phone calls to make any sort of progress. I suspect this will not surprise public-school parents.

Finally, the union picked a school: Beacon High. Unfortunately, it's not a typical public school -- it's "special." Beacon doesn't have the full incentives or flexibility of a private school: It can't go out of business, and it is burdened by bureaucratic rules and a union contract. But Beacon offers a limited form of what the union opposes: school choice. As with a private school, you don't have to go there, and they don't have to take you. Applicants must submit portfolios, and if too few chose Beacon, it wouldn't be able to remain special. To remain what it is, it must compete.

Recently classes of Beacon students took field trips to France, South Africa, and tellingly, Venezuela and Cuba. Beacon has rooms filled with computers, students learn to do PowerPoint demonstrations, and a class I watched had two teachers (one a student-teacher) for 24 students. Ninety percent of Beacon's students graduate, while the average graduation rate for New York City public schools is only 53 percent.

I guess they didn't want me to look at a normal public school.

But this is the school the UFT picked, and I was up for the challenge. Who knows what I might have learned by teaching?

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.

Too bad. Letting cameras into schools would be a good thing. Taxpayers might finally get to see how more than $200,000 per classroom of their money was being spent.

I wonder why the union even made the challenge. I suspect the UFT didn't expect me to say yes. When I turned out not to be easily intimidated, the teachers' union and the government school monopoly folded. Perhaps there's a lesson there.

But I wasn't trying to call a bluff. I wanted to accept an invitation. I'd like 20/20's cameras to see me struggle to be a good teacher.

I wonder what else our cameras might see.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: johnstossel; nea; stossel; teachersunions; teacherunions; uft; unions

1 posted on 04/05/2006 2:07:10 AM PDT by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189

Funny.


2 posted on 04/05/2006 2:22:07 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: RWR8189
We have so few John Stossel's around. I sometimes wonder if the US would not be much closer, politically, to Cuba or Venezuela if we did not have folks like John, Bill O'Riley, Rush Limbaugh, and a handful of others out there day after day exposing the powermongers and their agenda. The politicization of public education in America has probably destroyed our future. It would seem that even the most decadent politician would not have wanted that. I suppose they only care about personal aggrandizement and power, thinking someone else will come along to bear the burden of cleaning up the mess. When messes get too big, they have to be scrapped and an entirely new structure has to be built. In my view, this is what needs to happen in public education. Take the power of the socialists or worse away and give it to people who care about educating children.
3 posted on 04/05/2006 2:25:04 AM PDT by jazzlite (esat)
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To: RWR8189
students learn to do PowerPoint demonstrations

What do they demonstrate for or against?

4 posted on 04/05/2006 2:27:16 AM PDT by Glenn (There is a looming Tupperware shortage. Plan appropriately.)
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To: Sam Cree
My two daughters graduated from the Beacon School in 2000 & 2001. At the time it was a terrific school although it did lean left. It is a "special school" where the administrators had greater flexibility in choosing teachers and in teaching the NY state curriculum. The administration also had some flexibility in choosing students who had to apply.My children received an education equal to that offered at some of the better private schools. However, in recent years the school has been forced to take and keep students who are not highly motivated. Almost all students graduate and go to college.
5 posted on 04/05/2006 2:31:41 AM PDT by ozdragon
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To: RWR8189
"We got high schools, we got elementary schools, we got junior high schools!"

An English teacher, perhaps? At least this teacher didn't say "We gots high schools", etc.

6 posted on 04/05/2006 2:35:52 AM PDT by SIDENET (Gonna shake it, gonna break it, let's forget it better still)
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To: Sam Cree
Funny

Only in very sad and disturbing way. I'm not laughing.

7 posted on 04/05/2006 2:35:56 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (NYT Headline: 'Protocols of the Learned Elders of CBS: Fake But Accurate, Experts Say.')
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To: Glenn
What do they demonstrate for or against?

...Against it....Its' whats' in Fashion for the last 40 years. :^/

8 posted on 04/05/2006 2:40:49 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you....... :^)
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To: ozdragon

Thanks, that's very interesting.
Best of luck to your daughters.


9 posted on 04/05/2006 2:56:19 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

I agree that it's sad and disturbing.


10 posted on 04/05/2006 2:57:22 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: RWR8189

The whole thing seems odd to me. It was the teacher's union who challenged Stossel to "try teaching for a week". In other words, he didn't understand their "challenges". Fine. So he accepted. Then they pulled out of the deal. Here was an opportunity for the world to see how difficult it is to teach and how the teachers need more pay, smaller classes, more computers, yada, yada, yada and yet they ultimately decided that this publicity would not help their union members. Is it possible that the teacher's unions and the administrative beauacracies are their own worst enemies?


11 posted on 04/05/2006 3:26:16 AM PDT by JohnEBoy (AT)
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To: jazzlite

"We have so few John Stossel's around. I sometimes wonder if the US would not be much closer, politically, to Cuba or Venezuela if we did not have folks like John, Bill O'Riley, Rush Limbaugh, and a handful of others out there day after day exposing the powermongers and their agenda."

If these heroes say something less than glowing about the President, they are not treated as such, rather they are called traitors and tools of the left. It is sad.


12 posted on 04/05/2006 3:56:32 AM PDT by David Isaac
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To: RWR8189
Randi Weingarten, head of New York City's union, took the microphone and hollered, "Just teach for a week!" She said I could select from many schools. "We got high schools, we got elementary schools, we got junior high schools!"

"We got"??? Apparently English is 'union head' Randi's second language. It's "we have" Randi, "we have". Even in New York where you all talk 'funny' - it's still "we have".

BTW, Stossel falls into the same 'language trap' with his "Lots of people". That should be "A lot of people".

13 posted on 04/05/2006 4:09:37 AM PDT by Condor51 (Better to fight for something than live for nothing - Gen. George S. Patton)
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To: RWR8189

Totally unsurprised at this.


14 posted on 04/05/2006 4:13:59 AM PDT by Tax-chick (The UN 1967 Outer Space Treaty is bad for America and bad for humanity - DUMP IT)
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To: RWR8189

The Teacher's Union probably thought they would teach him a lesson and burn up so much cash and resources from 20/20 that Stossel would regret his interaction with them. This is just the latest round. Stay tuned.


15 posted on 04/05/2006 4:14:09 AM PDT by AD from SpringBay (We have the government we allow and deserve.)
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To: Glenn

Well, if you're using PowerPoint, you're probably demonstrating against logic and linear reasoning, since PowerPoint shuns these things.

= )


16 posted on 04/05/2006 4:14:56 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne ("But iron, cold iron, shall be master of them all..." Kipling)
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To: RWR8189

The union can not allow any one to see what happens in schools. Might disrupt their on going whines for more money.


17 posted on 04/05/2006 4:15:14 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: JohnEBoy
Is it possible that the teacher's unions and the administrative beauacracies are their own worst enemies?

Unquestionably. Unfortunately, they're also students' and the taxpayers' worst enemies, too!

18 posted on 04/05/2006 4:15:24 AM PDT by Tax-chick (The UN 1967 Outer Space Treaty is bad for America and bad for humanity - DUMP IT)
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To: RWR8189

bump for later


19 posted on 04/05/2006 4:28:02 AM PDT by joe fonebone (Vote YES! on Lake Iran......)
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To: RWR8189
"We got high schools, we got elementary schools, we got junior high schools!"

I assume these weren't ENGLISH teachers.

20 posted on 04/05/2006 4:55:11 AM PDT by Mr. Brightside (Watcher of the Skies)
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To: RWR8189
Teachers in NYC with little experience can get paid $45,000 to work only 900 hours a year. $50 a hour to babysit.

That's about one-third the hours that normal NYers work.

They also get a swank benefits package and guaranteed lifetime job security if they can manage not to show up to work high on crack or sodomize one of their young charges.

21 posted on 04/05/2006 4:59:16 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: jazzlite
I sometimes wonder if the US would not be much closer, politically, to Cuba or Venezuela if we did not have folks like John, Bill O'Riley, Rush Limbaugh, and a handful of others out there day after day exposing the powermongers and their agenda.

We'd certainly be more like France or Germany.

22 posted on 04/05/2006 5:02:23 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: RWR8189
I was just reading about the offer and the challenges in the NYC teachers' newspaper.

THe funny thing is that the challenge is No-Win for the teachers union: either he shows how bad the schools are, or he shows how he can't teach for a single week -- except that the school can get rid of him at the end of the week. You can't get rid of a bad teacher so easily.

23 posted on 04/05/2006 5:04:15 AM PDT by Tanniker Smith (I didn't know she was a liberal when I married her.)
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To: ozdragon
My daughter attends Walnut Hills, a magnet school. They are required to learn Latin. They study ancient Greece and Rome. Her fellow students are of every color, and they are all there because they want to be there, because students that survive six years there generally have a 80+% chance of getting a full scholarship somewhere good. They have wonderful sports and performing arts programs, and very little problem with discipline. (They are also in the middle of a "bad neighborhood" with high crime and a horrible dropout rate for the regular school in that area.) The lesson for today? You don't give anybody a hand up by lowering their expectations. This is not a Democrat "we'll let you fail because you can't be expected to really achieve anything, you poor backward hyphanated-American" school. It is a "Old School" school with a classical curriculum, designed to help kids who want a good education get one without being distracted by "victims" who have already given up on themselves because their "leaders" make excuses for being lazy.

My wife and I laugh that our daughter "has no black friends." That is, she has a hundred friends, about half who are black. But she's been raised to be as color-blind as we can manage. I want her to judge as Martin Luther King, Jr. did...on the contents of the hearts of others, not by their skin. She knows winners of every race...and that makes the losers of every race all the more apparent. She has two highly involved parents that love her, set firm guidelines about what is good and bad, and expect her to humbly out-perform others, because she is so strong, kind and smart. If anybody loves their kids, they should give them limits, and have high expectations for whatever area they naturally excel in.

24 posted on 04/05/2006 5:40:45 AM PDT by 50sDad (ST3d: Real Star Trek 3d Chess: http://my.ohio.voyager.net/~abartmes/tactical.htm)
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To: RWR8189
Too bad. Letting cameras into schools would be a good thing. Taxpayers might finally get to see how more than $200,000 per classroom of their money was being spent.

I hope more students like Colorado's Sean Allen record and expose their kook teachers' rants. We also have Evan Coyne Maloney exposing colleges.

25 posted on 04/05/2006 5:58:16 AM PDT by Minnesocold ("The public demand to protect our borders will triumph sooner or later." - Tony Blankley)
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To: Mr. Thorne
Well, if you're using PowerPoint, you're probably demonstrating against logic and linear reasoning, since PowerPoint shuns these things.

How is that? I'm hearing that new teachers are using power point instead of the blackboard, and that the education departments are pushing it.

26 posted on 04/05/2006 7:39:25 AM PDT by grasshopper2
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To: Condor51
BTW, Stossel falls into the same 'language trap' with his "Lots of people". That should be "A lot of people".

If you are going to be picky about vernacular, it should be "many people". Canned goods and land come in lots; people come in groups.

27 posted on 04/05/2006 8:14:28 AM PDT by LexBaird (Tyrannosaurus Lex, unapologetic carnivore)
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To: Mr. Brightside
I assume these weren't ENGLISH teachers.

I'd assume, since she is a major union head, she hasn't actually taught a class in years.

28 posted on 04/05/2006 8:19:58 AM PDT by LexBaird (Tyrannosaurus Lex, unapologetic carnivore)
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To: jazzlite

IMHO, Stossel is one of the few TV journalist who is honest.


29 posted on 04/05/2006 10:23:56 AM PDT by Rakkasan1 (Muslims pray to Allah, Allah prays to Chuck Norris.(one nation, under sharia))
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To: Condor51

On a related tangent, what are the rules for "got" and "have"?


30 posted on 04/05/2006 11:55:54 AM PDT by TheMightyQuinn
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To: RWR8189
I wonder what else our cameras might see.

Wouldn't matter. If its one thing I've learned in 30 plus years of watching tv news magazine shows exposing all manner of corruption and wrongdoing, its that nobody really gives a carp, and nothing ever changes.

31 posted on 04/05/2006 12:03:18 PM PDT by Wolfie
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To: TheMightyQuinn
***On a related tangent, what are the rules for "got" and "have"? ***

'Got' (Past tense and a past participle of get.) - I got a speeding ticket on the way to work.

Have is a tad more involved:
'Have' (To be in possession of. To possess as a characteristic, quality, or function. To possess or contain as a constituent part) - I have a cr@py Dell computer.

In any case, "we got xxxx schools" is improper English since it is the past tense of 'get'. And the mope who used it is the teacher Union Rep, most likely a past teacher - simply marvelous.

32 posted on 04/06/2006 4:06:23 AM PDT by Condor51 (Better to fight for something than live for nothing - Gen. George S. Patton)
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To: RWR8189

Stossel bitch slaps union.


33 posted on 04/06/2006 4:11:00 AM PDT by Drango (A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.)
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To: RWR8189
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"?


34 posted on 04/06/2006 12:34:11 PM PDT by Caleb1411 ("These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G. K. C)
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To: RWR8189

Stossel or the teachers: who will blink?
that was a no-brainer!


35 posted on 04/06/2006 12:49:03 PM PDT by VOA
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