The Slant of the Times Union

The Times Union has long been a big part of my life. My mother worked there for nearly thirty years and I have fond memories of sitting around the table with her reading the paper. Now however I have to say I am a bit frustrated with the paper. They seem to be on the wrong side of the education debate. Even in their news pieces there seems to be a slant.

In a recent article about Micelle Rhee, controversial former D.C. schools chancellor, addressing the Florida Legislature, Brandon Larrabee sited her presence in the movie, Waiting for Superman. I say movie not documentary because many of its dramatic scenes were staged. Mr. Larrabee referred to the movie as being critically acclaimed, I say the movie was blatant propaganda made by a public school hating film maker, financed by billionaires interested in increasing their share in the education market through misinformation, teacher demonizing, charter schools and an increased reliance on standardized testing. In case you blinked, you should know that education has become a multi-billion dollar business.

You know what really gets me? It’s the fact that many of those that embraced Waiting for Superman as the gospel are the same people that will dismiss a Michael Moore movie as Hollywood crap. I share many of Michael Moore’s views but I know when I watch his films to do so with both eyes open and to take them with a grain of salt.

Even if all of what was portrayed in Waiting for Superman was true regardless of the fact much has been debunked, (sadly however that didn’t get nearly the press the film did) it would still only show a miniscule fraction of what is going on in our schools. It would be like looking at three doctors you knew were bad and then condemning the whole medical field nationwide because of their actions. Sadly however when Mr. Larrabee says critically acclaimed he gives the movie more credibility than it deserves.

You expect a slant from their columnists take Ron LittlePage for example. In Ron Littlepage’s column about the state potentially withholding funds if some of our schools don’t improve, he talks about the education commissioner losing him, well I can tell you right where he lost me. It’s when he wrote, “But we now have a strong School Board and a strong superintendent in place who are putting extra effort into improving these schools.” Mr. Littlepage exactly what school board and superintendent are you talking about?

This school board and superintendent, instead of following the law which I agree is draconian and instead of addressing the real problem, kids getting to high school unable to read and do math at grade level, without the skills they need to succeed, came up with some half baked plan to cut the schools in half creating two theme schools that would share the same campuses. And you are surprised the state said no thanks?

That proposal was not extra effort, instead it was crazy and a common definition of crazy is to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Well friends we have been waiting for over a decade for 1701 Prudential Drive to fix those schools. The superintendent by the way was there every day and several members of the school board have been there for years and not one of there quick fixes have worked. They reason is they stubbornly refuse to address the real issues those schools have and because of that nothing has changed.

Mr. Littlepage, I don’t want the schools closed or taken over, but we have real problems which need real solutions and if you, the school board and the superintendent aren’t going to part of that it’s time you got out of the way and let somebody else try. That in case you are still lost is all the state is saying.

Then there are the editorials, columns without authors. A couple of editorials ago a Times Union editorial asked, what doesn’t the School Board get. Well I am now asking the Times Union’s editorial board the same question. What don’t you get?

We have the superintendent and school board we need in place, the school board is heading in the right direction, we need to have patience. Do you know where those statements and dozens similar to them have come from? They over the last few years, that’s years, have come from editorials that have been written by the Times Union’s editorial board. How much patience can and should we have? How many ideas thrown like paint against a wall hoping something sticks are we supposed to endure from the school board and the administration at 1701 Prudential Drive?

I know editorials are little more than opinions but when put in respected forums like the Times Union they carry weight, they both influence others opinions and policy. And in this case they propagate the failed policies of our local education system and that is causing children to fall through the cracks. It is hurting kids.

Times Union if we follow your advice and be patient and this latest solution to save our ailing schools doesn’t prove to be any more effective than the last few are you going to take responsibility for all the children doomed to a menial existence or who have had their development retarded. Are you going to apologize to their families or the victims of the children who turn to crime because quite frankly they aren’t suited for the workforce or college? Or like you did a while back are you going to call for more patience, and are you going to say, when these members of the school board leave or are superintendent retires, the next ones are competent and sincere too.

Patience is one of the problems we have and I think when children’s futures are on the line we need urgency. Though like the editors of the Times Union are entitled to theirs, that’s just my opinion.

I am not saying you have to agree with me all I am asking is to think what is best for the children. Pushing them trough without the skills they need to be successful and without discipline and a work ethic is not what’s best for children. Cramming them into a one size fits all curriculum regardless of desire and aptitude is not what’s best for children. Deamonizing teachers and endorsing propaganda is not whats best for the children. What the times union reporters and editorial staff often recommend is not what is best for children.

The Times Union has a powerful voice; I wish they would speak more for the kids and not the superintendent, school board and others.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

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