Thursday, January 10, 2013

Whistleblowing in Education is Dangerous

for the whistleblower involved. Naturally non-teacher John Merrow, in his "report" about crooked administrator Michelle Rhee, didn't go into much detail about the principal who tried to blow the whistle on the D.C. cheating scandal.

Whistleblowing is deadly in the ed field. Typically an educator who is ethical is too much for the higher-ups to stomach because, after all, any violations are reflections on THEM, and that can't be allowed. Better the teacher or principal be railroaded out of a job than face criticism by the public.

Merrow, of course, didn't give this principal much airtime. He was too busy shilling for Rhee.

Why the code of silence? One person explained that she wouldn’t be able to find work in education if she spoke out—and then hung up. Others told much the same story.

So let me tell you more about Adell Cothorne, in her own words.

“I grew up in poverty. I’m a minority, of course, (laughs). (And the daughter of a) teenage mother. So I absolutely understand the value of a strong public school education. It will take you places you’ve never been before.”

Education enabled Adell Cothorne to rise from those unpromising circumstances, and she ended up as an Assistant Principal in Montgomery County, Maryland. For those unfamiliar with the Washington, DC, area, Montgomery County is a wealthy suburb of the Capital with excellent ‘Blue Ribbon’ public schools. It’s one of the top-ranked school districts in the nation.

Since John Merrow is so fixated on those mythical "bad teachers," he sounds totally shocked that teachers and principals are terrified to speak out because it is career-ruining. He doesn't understand the extreme power imbalance in education between teachers and administrators, or even with the few ethical principals and the higher-ups.

Districts have a million ways to blackball educators, and this blackballing can cross state lines. Disclosure questions are supposed to weed out the truly dangerous or incompetent educators, but any teacher or principal can be weeded out regardless of ability if they have been forced to resign, were dismissed regardless of how bogus the allegations are, or are non-renewed for whatever reason. I once copied-and pasted WCSD's application questions which ask the same question about six different ways in order to screen that teacher applicant from ever being eligible for a job.

Merrow is too much in bed with the privatizer interests to ever take a hard look at the power games in education, which "reform" efforts would make much worse.

The documentary should have centered on Adell Cothorne rather than Merrow's hero Michelle Rhee.

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