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BATs Respond to Time Magazine Cover

batappleBadass Teachers Association Press Release:

As representatives of an organization that represents the collective voices of 53,000 teachers, we take issue with the image selected for the November 3 edition of Time. We believe that the image is journalistically irresponsible and unfairly paints teachers and teacher tenure in a negative light.

The gavel smashing the apple, the universal symbol of education, reinforces the text that applauds“tech millionaires” in finally figuring out how to deal the deathblow to teacher tenure widely misunderstood as job protection for life for teachers.

In addition, the cover perpetuates the myth of the “bad” teacher and tenure as the prime enablers of larger failures in American education—more borne of structural inequalities and chronic underfunding than teaching professionals.

“Labeling of teachers is hurtful and stigmatizing to teachers, students, and communities”, states Aixa Rodriguez, BAT DREAM Manager and Bronx teacher.

The cover deliberately privileges the “bad” teacher narrative with the misleading statement, “It is nearly impossible to fire bad teachers.” A few months ago talk show host Whoopi Goldberg made similar statements suffering under the same basic misunderstanding of teacher tenure as something akin to what college professors enjoy rather than a simple guarantee of procedural due process which is its function in K-12 education.

In fact, teacher tenure has served as an important protection to allow teachers to advocate for students— especially with regard to maintaining manageable class sizes, safe instructional spaces, ELL and Special needs interventions, and needed financial resources to combat the poverty and inequality that plague public schools and are most to blame for hurting young people.

Terry Kalb, BAT administrator, former Special Education teacher, and Special Education advocate says, “Teachers are whistleblowers- we protect children who are denied IEP services, devices, accommodations- all costly and complicated for administrators looking to streamline budgets and staff.”

Given the massive increase in student enrollments, one of the greatest shortfalls is in the number of teachers themselves. A simple accounting of all the teaching positions lost in the great recessions reveals that the nation would need 377,000 more teachers in the classroom just to keep pace not to mention combat the shameful shortage being teachers of color.

BAT Administrator, historian, author, and college professor Dr. Yohuru Williams states, “More significantly, the cover uncritically situates the tech millionaires as saviors without revealing their own self-interest in the tenure fight— the creation of a nation of corporate-run franchise schools taught by untrained teachers and measured by high stakes test developed and administered by those same millionaires.”

In an age where transparency in politics and journalism is sorely needed, we regret Times decision to proceed with a cover so clearly at odds with the truth.

Dear TIME magazine, we teachers are not happy with your substandard reporting. (F-)

When TIME magazine decided to put out a front page depicting a gavel smashing a shiny red apple, with the tag line “Rotten Apples – it’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher: Some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that” they really didn’t think for one minute teachers would sit by and let that go unchallenged, surely?

Click here to thunderclap TIME to tell them you want an apology.

US teachers have a battle on their hands right now, regarding tenure.  Tenure gives teachers the right to due process if they are being disciplines or faced with being let go.  It is not a job for life – it’s merely protection from being sacked at the whim of your employer, without any good reason.

You’d think that wasn’t too much to ask in any job?  If an employee is not suitable, then you can show that and they can be let go.  Fair enough.  But you can’t sack someone just because it takes your fancy, or because they disagree with your politics, or because they spoke out.

This is what’s going on in the USA, and this is why there is a push to ‘reform’ tenure – and by reform, I mean remove it so that teachers can be sacked without due process.

Why would anyone want that.  You have to ask yourself…

And in New Zealand we are not exempt, small changes here and there in our labour laws, small changes here and there to the Education Act allowing untrained teachers, proposals to have a code of conduct for teachers that expressly states we cannot speak out about our employer (our school, the government, both?).

The Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is on a mission worldwide, and it’s teachers they have in their sights now.

Tell TIME not to fall for it and to stop sharing GERMers’ lies.

This edited version of the cover is more truthful.

Screenshot (41)

This from the Randi Weingarten:

In just the last 36 hours, more than 30,000 people have signed our petition demanding that Time magazine apologize for its offensive cover.

Next week, we’ll be delivering every petition we collect to Time’s headquarters in New York. Our goal is that they never again try to make money by attacking educators. First, we need to make sure they hear our message loud and clear. Will you help by sharing the petition and asking your friends and family to sign?

Time’s cover suggests that teachers are a problem that must be smashed. We know this image is far out of step with how Americans view our educators. I hope you’ll share the petition with your friends so we can show Time that people don’t think highly of bashing teachers to sell magazines.

Randi Weingarten
AFT President

Click here to thunderclap TIME to tell them you want an apology.

And well done to Schools Matter for their message to Time, below:

The concrete facts about school performance

Sent to Time Magazine, Oct. 23, 2014.
Re: Taking on Teacher Tenure, Time, November 3, 2014

“Unassuming” tycoon David Welch is also unformed. He claims he prefers a world of “concrete facts” but still maintains that the American education system is “failing” because of bad teachers who can’t be fired.
The concrete facts are these: When researchers control for the effects of poverty, American students score near the top of the world on international tests. Our unspectacular (but not horrible) performance on tests is because of our high child poverty rate, about 23%, second highest among 34 economically advanced countries, according to UNICEF. High-scoring countries such as Finland have a child poverty rate of about 5%.
Poverty means, among other things,  poor nutrition, lack of health care, and little access to books. All of these have powerful negative effects on school performance. The best teaching in the world has little effect when students are hungry, ill, and have little or nothing to read.
Our main problem is not teaching quality, unions, or the rules for due process. The main problem is poverty.

Stephen Krashen

Control for poverty: Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012.

Child Poverty: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2012, ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.

How does taking an extra $30k a year become a pay cut?


John Gerritsen, Education Correspondent at Radio NZ should be hanging his head in shame for this headline:

“Principals agree pay cut for key role”

The same line was also used here:

Principals vote for pay cut


What’s the problem?

For those not in the know, it sounds like secondary principals have slashed their wages in a noble move to back the government’s Investing in Educational Success (IES) proposal.

And by framing what happened as a pay cut, there is an implication that secondary principals are so enamoured by IES that they are willing to pay for the privilege of being part of it.


Since when has agreeing an EXTRA THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR instead of forty thousand dollars a year been a pay cut?

Yes, that’s right – despite the headline, the truth of the matter is – and I quote – secondary principals agreed only to “reducing the extra money paid to principals who take two days a week to lead a cluster of schools from $40,000 a year to $30,000”

Pay CUT my fat hat.


Upon Querying Radio NZ

When I challenged the misleading headline on Twitter, Mr Gerritson responded:

“Yes, original headline was “School principals agree $10k pay cut for top jobs” – was abbreviated to fit on our site”

Sorry, Mr Gerritsen, I think you rather missed the point, there: the longer headline is no better.

Let me spell it out for you – THERE IS NO PAY CUT.


Tired of Journalists’ Spin, Misrepresentation and Untruths 

Whatever your position on IES (and there are many), it is outrageous for our national radio station to have headlines that manipulate the truth so wildly.

Surely if we have learned nothing else this week, it is that people are sick and tired of spin and would like some honest reporting from journalists.

Furthermore, just how does reducing the payment by one quarter address what Radio NZ calls “the suspicion that the principals leading a cluster will wield considerable, and unwelcome, authority over their peers”?

Gerritsen says this concern was fuelled by the amount of money those taking the role would get, but that’s just rot.

Concerns about secondary principals’ authority over other schools – particularly primary schools – has nothing to do with exactly how much they are paid but about what their goals will be.  All along, the Minister has stated the person in that role will have to focus on ‘raising standards’, and it is this and the entrenching of ropey National Standards that concern parents and teachers.

To reduce it to a petty squabble about who gets the most money is to seriously misrepresent the issue.

~ Dianne


Further info: Principals vote for pay cut – Originally aired on Morning Report, Wednesday 20 August 2014

Anne Tolley’s Promises Were Worth Nothing… Beware Parata’s…

Today I found a 2009 article by Anne Tolley, responding to what she terms as scaremongering about the then proposed National Standards.

She says “our pupils are among the best in the world. But international studies show that the gap between our highest and lowest performing pupils is getting wider.”

  • On the contrary, the latest report has us still amongst the best.  Unlike the UK and USA and many other countries, we have not slipped down the listings, but held our own and remain in the top 6 countries.   What has changed, in the past two years, however, is the gap between richest and poorest.  Interesting that we never get much commentary from Anne or Hekia or John on how that affects our kids’ learning.

Anne goes on to tell us “There have been hysterical claims that we are no longer investing in subjects such as art and the sciences. Wrong again.”

  • The attempt to cut a huge number of technology teachers this year was only thwarted by a huge public outcry.  It was found at that time that the Ministry of Education’s calculations were wrong on many levels, and they had not even worked out how the cuts would truly affect schools.  That give you faith, doesn’t it?  The only reason those cuts did not go through is thanks to parents, teachers and unions voicing their  outrage.

Anne’s next foray against people with concerns about her education policies was to assure us that there were no plans to close schools:  “Or how about schools being identified as failing and being forced to close? Complete nonsense. Additional funding will be made available to those schools that need support.”

  • Charter Schools.  Am I missing something here, Anne, but within less than two years the plan now is to close failing schools and re-open them as Charter Schools with untrained and unqualified staff, no requirement to follow the curriculum OR report National Standards to the Ministry, and they can run for profit.  I think maybe you should check the mirror right now and see if your nose has started to grow yet.

Just in case your nose is still the same size, you went on to say “Results being used to give performance pay to teachers? Rubbish.”

  • How DARE you talk about educators scaremongering and be so dismissive of our concerns.  This week, not two years later, and as soon as the first National Standards were in,  Hekia Parata said “Performance pay has been raised. I’m keen to see it located in a context of overall quality management in schools.”   Do you really expect us to believe we were not right about that concern in the first place.   Shame on you.

Next Tolley quote “League tables? Never on the agenda”

  • I don”t think I need to say anything there.  Your own web site and the newspapers show this to be totally wrong.
  • How’s your nose doing?

In a triumphal conclusion to her acerbic article, Tolley crows “Those who have spoken out against the standards will continue to do so. By all means, have your say. But please get your facts straight and stop trying to mislead parents.”

  • Really?!

How about you and your government stop trying to mislead parents.  

You stop scaremongering.  

You get YOUR facts straight.

Best check that nose now, Anne, because at this point it may well need a bloody good sanding down.


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