Leading Source

The week in blogs

Have you heard the news? Well, it’s all over the Internet, so it must be true.

Here’s the headline:

Budget Mix-Up Provides Nation’s Schools With Enough Money to Properly Educate Students

The story “quotes” prominent Washington politicians, falling over one another to apologize for the error.

“Obviously, we did not intend for this to happen, and we are doing everything in our power to right the situation and discipline whoever is responsible,” said a House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) – but not really. His “quote” and the headline – along with statements from chagrinned Democrats as well – appear in The Onion, the satirical daily that seems to get all its facts wrong but still manages to come up with the truth.

Would that a little budget “slip up” could fix everything regarding school funding, but in the real world of public education it was not the case, as battles raged on over just how to define equity in education and in society.

In the Fordham Institute’s “Flypaper” blog, Peter Meyer charged that protesting New York teachers and their sympathizes, who marched this week on Wall Street to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to cut more than 6,000 teaching positions, were fomenting “a class war.”  (Yes, we’re horrified too.)

“Even if one sympathized with  these folks’ sentiments about the financial ‘inequality crisis’ or believed for a second or two that it was the big banks that ‘crashed our economy,'” the question is where the big unions – and their contrail of sympathizers — have been during the inequality crisis in education the last thirty years,” Meyer writes. “Their silence in the face of crushing inner city educational failures has been deafening.”

To which teacher and blogger David B. Cohen replies that “they were busy working.” In his own blog, Cohen talks about California teachers protesting in Sacramento over that state’s horrendous budget mess. And his colleague at Accomplished California Teachers, “Mizz Murphy,” writes about a surreal – one could say Orwellian – court hearing during which Los Angeles teachers were protesting their layoffs.

In this excerpt, a district lawyer questions a high school teacher librarian with “multiple teaching credentials” and more than three decades of experience:

Attorney: I see that you’ve submitted a lesson plan into evidence for a research project on various countries.

TL: That’s correct. The students were assigned a country and then did research on the history, culture, politics, etc., of that country.

Attorney: So, you taught them research skills?

TL: Yes, and I also taught them about the countries they’d been assigned.

Attorney: So, you taught them about the history of those countries?

TL: Briefly, yes. As you can see, there are about twenty countries on the list.

Attorney: So, you taught them about the history of Armenia?

TL: Yes, briefly, I did.

Attorney: Could you please tell the court what you told the class about the history of Armenia?

TL: You want me to give a lecture on Armenian history? Now?

Attorney: Please, if you wouldn’t mind.

“The TL then proceeded to give a 3-4 minute lecture on the history of Armenia,” Murphy writes. “He was spot on…”

I don’t know enough about L.A. Unified’s considerable budget woes to know who’s right in this conflict. But, to me, the larger issue is: Why should the schools and the teachers be put in this untenable position to begin with?

Makes one long for a federal (or state) budget slipup – one of Onionian proportions.

Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor

Lawrence Hardy|May 13th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Budgeting, Curriculum, Governance, Policy Formation, Teachers, Urban Schools|

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