Saturday, November 29, 2014

Yet Another Joel Klein Lie?

I'm not surprised that no one else caught this. One of the results of this slow death of the social studies in American schools is that hardly anyone has a strong sense of history. Without that sense, no one thinks to measure new information against a simple historical fact. Because of this, not many people were able to see the utter bologna in former New York City Schools' Chancellor Joel Klein's piece in the Atlantic earlier in the month. 

Oh, that's the piece where Uncle Joel claimed that all he wanted to do as he began serving as chancellor was to just directly talk with the teachers of New York City. The one where he said he had wanted to send an email straight to us all and have discussion. The email that would have had started out by saying "Look, folks, let’s be honest with each other." Here was his great idea:

 I’d write e-mails to them all as a group. What was to stop me? After all, I was their boss. Shouldn’t we be able to communicate?
Yep. Then he blamed my union for not allowing him to do it. "... the UFT", he wrote, "did not allow me to approach teachers directly on any matter that touched on their actual work."

Poor Uncle Joel.
Bad, bad UFT ;(

There is just one small thing wrong with the chancellor's assertion. City teachers had no official email until a year or two after the chancellor took over in '02.

Here's a bit of history: The first email system the teachers and other staff of New York were issued was in early 2003. The software was written by Apple. Teachers were given a whopping 25 MB of storage and it was hosted on a server that was so slow that many of us would log in, then go make a pot of coffee or something as we waited for it to bring us to our inbox. It was intended to hold us all over until a larger, permanent email system, by Microsoft (the system we have today), could be rolled out to us all.

It's kind of hard to send emails to us "as a group" when there was no email to be had, don't you think?

Such is the case with the Klein way of making a point. It's mostly comprised with an assertion or two that is so filled to the brim with crap that you can't quite tell where the stink is coming from. Of course, the fact that sending an email to teachers in New York City in 2002 is a lot like boarding a 747 in 1902 didn't stop him (or the whoever he hired write it for him) from trying to make the point. According to that 'private sector' approach, everyone listening has got to be more dumb than the person who is talking could ever be (in a sense, he's kind of right. After all, no one else caught the lie, did they?). Therefore, it's ok to be full of crap on a point you make and still expect to be taken seriously as you continue talking.

Does all this matter? Well, you tell me. One school of thought is that it is a minor point among a larger piece that attacks an all powerful union. Of course, another thought is that if he was full of crap on this one point about email, then how much of what else he asserts in his piece should reasonably be believed? Might he have been lying when he said he wanted to have talks with us or brown bag lunches or engage teachers in meaningful discussion?

Or about my union being bad? hmm ...

Hmm... Uncle Joel lying to make my union look bad. Hmm ...


  1. And he will continue to lie and no one will hold him to account. Such is the life of a thug.

  2. I don't actually remember when we got email accounts. I knew it was about the time Bloomberg took over. A bigger lie that no one seems to notice is there were no restrictions on him to send email to staff over the 8 years he was chancellor when everyone did have email accounts.

    1. Hmm, perhaps someone on the unity caucus should have set out to say so the weeks ago.

  3. Joel Klein aka the devil himself

  4. I think he *did* send us emails, didn't he?