Frank Bruni is worried about the teacher shortage. Over the few years in which he has been a regular on the Néw York Times opinion page, Bruni has written column after column demeaning teachers and teachers’ unions and asserting that American kids are “coddled” (like the 51% who live in low-income families and the 23% who live in poverty, and the rest who spend their days in test-prep drudgery, competing to stay in the shrinking middle class). He praised the film “Won’t Back Down,” which demonizes teachers and unions and celebrates charters. The same producer was behind the fact-challenged “Wating for ‘Superman,'” which launched the privatization movement.

Now Frank Bruni frets about the teacher shortage. Veteran teacher Arthur Goldstein says Bruni doesn’t have to search far for the causes. He could begin by looking in the mirror. Bruni, he says, is part of the problem:

“As it happens, Bruni himself is a prominent teacher basher. He believes passionately in junk science rating of teachers and can’t be bothered to do the most fundamental research. Who cares if the American Statistical Association says teachers change test scores by a factor of 1-14%? What’s the big deal if they say use of high stakes evaluation is counter-productive? He knows some guy who likes it and that should be good enough for anyone. Bruni does other important work, like spitting out press releases for Joel Klein’s latest book.

“But now he’s amazed no one wants to be a teacher. Naturally, being a New York Times reporter who has access to pretty much anyone, he goes right to the source, the very best representative of teachers he can muster:

“Teachers crave better opportunities for career growth. Evan Stone, one of the chief executives of Educators 4 Excellence, which represents about 17,000 teachers nationwide, called for “career ladders for teachers to move into specialist roles, master-teacher roles.”

“They’re worried that they’re going to be doing the same thing on Day 1 as they’ll be doing 30 years in,” he told me.

“This is what Frank Bruni interprets as vision. Let’s make one thing clear–Evan Stone is not a teacher. He was for a few excruciating and miserable years, but he learned all he could from that dead end job, and started this big old E4E thing with Gates money. Now he gets to make pronouncements to distinguished NY Times reporters like Bruni. Meanwhile, the rest of us are stuck actually teaching children. Naturally Bruni doesn’t ask us what we think. After all, given our obvious lack of ambition, what could we possibly know?

“Bruni has gala luncheons to attend, fois gras to critique, and he can’t be bothered. Still just because Evan Stone’s E4E got 17, 000 people to sign papers in exchange for free drinks doesn’t mean they actually represent those people. I happen to know, for example, a UFT official who signed the paper just to see what was going on at one of those meetings.

“In fact, there’s no evidence to indicate anything E4E says is based on anything beyond Bill Gates’s druthers. Their support for junk science and calls to actually worsen already tough working conditions border on lunacy. Their acceptance of reformy money and embrace of a reformy agenda mean they do NOT represent working teachers….

“Yes, Frank Bruni, there is a teacher shortage. And yes, there are reasons for it. Some reasons are your BFFs like Joel Klein, Campbell Brown, and Gates-funded astroturf groups like E4E. They spout nonsense-based corporate ideas designed to destroy public education and union. You talk to them and can’t be bothered with us.

“Another big reason is mainstream media, which hires people like you. When people read nonsense like the stuff you write, they may not know that fundamental research is something you consider beyond the pale. They may not be aware that you have no intent or interest in talking to working teachers. They may think we don’t love our jobs and we don’t love working with and helping children. They may not know that merit pay has been around for 100 years and has never worked, and they may think that Evan Stone knows what he’s talking about. “