But Teachers Unions Are the Problem? No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

So a middle-aged guy decides to do the honorable and decent thing by becoming a teacher of special education students in New York. And then this happens:

But in September 2011, school administrators placed uncertified teachers — and a conga line of unemployed teachers who came for one-week stints — in classrooms filled with special education students, which is to say those children most in need of expert help.

This violated federal regulations.

Mr. Lirtzman, 56, decided to speak up. As he was not yet tenured, he stepped gingerly.

“I am NOT trying to cause problems,” he wrote in an e-mail to his assistant principal, but, he added, “we’re violating” court-mandated educational plans for students.

Mr. Lirtzman, unwittingly, became sand in the school’s gears.

He had received nothing but satisfactory evaluations. But in December, he said, the principal, Grismaldy Laboy-Wilson, said that she would not recommend him for tenure. The next day, she told him to leave immediately.

Mr. Lirtzman took his allegations to the Office of Special Investigations, an in-house unit at the Department of Education. An investigator asked for proof.

Mr. Lirtzman handed over 20 student programs, all of which showed that administrators placed students in classrooms with uncertified teachers. The investigator informed Mr. Lirtzman that these were confidential documents.

Now I am opening an investigation of you, she told him. It would be enough to bring a smile to the lips of Kafka.

“These are the most vulnerable kids, the ones no one really looks out for,” Mr. Lirtzman said. “This wasn’t a gray legal area. This was black and white, and the Department of Education decided that I was the problem.”

Clearly, this can be laid entirely at the feet of the NYC teachers unions.

Maybe if Bloomberg et alia spent a little less time worrying about the metrics and a little more time viewing students as people, this might not happen.

Although valueadded testing would obviously fix this problem…

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