This story proves that it is dangerous to get your information about American education from New York City’s tabloids. Campbell Brown, journalist extraordinaire. has now apparently become an education expert, based on her close reading of New York City’s tabloids. To be precise, the story says she read “the headlines.”
If you are a regular reader of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, you would be convinced that all charters are miracle schools and all public schools are disaster zones that destroy the lives of innocent children. Furthermore, you would feel certain that the public schools were overrun with teachers who were sexual predators and that these monsters don’t deserve a hearing. They need to be fired the moment they are accused!
I well remember a story that filled the local media when I was living in Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s. Six or seven middle school students accused their teacher of molesting them. The man’s name was published, and the number of accusers seemed to seal the case. But after a week or so, the accusers admitted to the police that they had lied. They were angry at the teacher because they thought he was a hard grader. They wanted to get even with him. The lesson I took from that story was that accusations are not proof; that teachers and others need due process; that charges should be aired before an impartial investigator; and that people who are accused are innocent until proven guilty.
It’s an old-fashioned idea, but it sill seems valid. Even for journalists like Campbell Brown.
By the way, I note that she was allowed to testify to the Cuomo Commission on education reform while Carol Burris, the principal who was a leader in organizing more than one-third of the state’s principals against the state testing regime, was denied that opportunity. There was time for the opinionated but ill-informed Brown, but no time for the experienced and knowledgeable Burris.