Friday, March 5, 2010

Willful Misinformation piece of the week

Occasionally, the Ostrich - (‘serving the willfully uninformed since 1967’) - reaches into the willfully misinforming realm, and uses whatever means it must to do so.  Even if it means publishing blatantly erroneous reader submissions.  In this case, a willfully uninformed reader.

Yesterday they ran an item from a retired midwest college employee who moved to the area less than a year ago.  He addressed the contract kerfuffle in RSU 1, and in the process, launched into the textbook weepy rhetoric that always surrounds negotiations with teachers and their administration.  He claims teachers are the “least appreciated and most disrespected professionals” in the US.

Have you ever been to a public meeting on school budgets and related issues?  In this area, if you do so, you will hear testimony that every teacher is if not a saint, at least an angel, and deserves everything their unions demand and more.  If the writer has some evidence otherwise, let him produce it.  He’ll have to send it to me, though, because the Ostrich isn’t interested in taking issue with the goo-goo talking points.

But here’s the piece-de-resistance:

‘Time and time again, many school administrators and boards ask their educators to take less in the way of salary and benefits and yet expect them to accomplish more.’

Bravo Sierra big time.  Show us some facts.  It’s clear the Ostrich didn’t ask for any, or the piece would not have run as it did.  Only those who challenge the editors’ agenda are asked to back up their claims.

So our writer sets the stage for another budget season confrontation by convincing the uninformed that teachers are getting by on less and less.  The Ostrich’s typical readers will lap up the proffered propaganda.

Any one who has been engaged in understanding the realities in Brunswick, for one, knows that the diametric opposite of the writer’s claim is true.  In the ten plus years I’ve been tracking the details, local teachers have received more in salary EVERY year and in EVERY contract, and their benefits have not been reduced.  Any extra contribution they’ve been asked to make to their health care plan has been more than covered by a concurrent pay increase.

And I’ve looked at enough data on statewide web sites, published by the unions themselves, to conclude that the pattern in Brunswick is typical.  In case the writer hasn’t noticed, unions don’t exist to accept less to do more.

As to having expectations increased, Bravo Sierra part deux.  Class size continues to decline, and there are no performance requirements imposed on teachers, or anything that approximates a measure of merit.

Willfully un-informing is bad enough in view of the lofty view journalism has of itself; willfully misinforming is enough to merit going out of business.

There’s an old yiddish curse that goes something like “may all your teeth fall out except one, so you can have a toothache.”

I challenge readers to author a similar sentiment for our over-appreciated and over-respected newspapers and those who produce them.

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