Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Andrew Cuomo Deals From Michelle Rhee's "Perv Teacher" Fear Card Deck

Governor Cuomo yesterday:

"The teachers’ union represents the teachers. I understand that. … I represent the students and I want to do the best we can for the students and for their education," he said. "One of the issues we have to work through where the teachers’ union doesn’t agree with me is, I want to evaluate teachers, and I want to be able to get bad teachers out of the classroom.

“I understand the union’s issue; they don’t want anyone fired,” Cuomo said. “But we have teachers that have been found guilty of sexually abusing students who we can’t get out of the classroom. We have a process where literally it takes years and years to get a bad teacher out of the classroom. And I understand the teachers’ rights, but I also understand the students’ rights. And the Albany government, the Albany media, is very responsive to the teachers’ union and their groups. I get it. But the students have rights, too. And this whole education system is about the students.”

See what's he's doing there?

Mary Ahern did:

So did Arthur Goldstein:

So did Nick Bianculli:

Cuomo's fear mongerig is straight out of the Michelle Rhee/Campbell Brown education reformer playbook.

Whenever they want to try and turn the public against teachers, they trot out the "Perv Teacher" fear card and play it liberally - even when the whole thing is made up.

Michelle Rhee, for example, fired 266 teachers in Washington D.C. when she was schools chancellor, claiming that they were sexual and physical abusers of children.

She was lying, er, "misspeaking":

Michelle A. Rhee, the chancellor of District of Columbia schools, finds herself at the center of a controversy again, this time over comments attributed to her in a business magazine saying that some teachers who were laid off last fall had sexually and physically abused students.

Rhee laid off 266 teachers and a few dozen administrators in October in an effort to close a budget gap, a move that led to student protests, a lawsuit by the local teachers' union, and a contentious face-off with the local city council. Rhee was accused by her detractors of using the budget as an excuse to lay off veteran teachers without having to work with seniority rules.
But her response defending her actions to Fast Company startled many.

"I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee told Fast Company. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"

Rhee's comments, first circulated over the weekend in D.C-area media, sent shockwaves around the region and beyond, invoking the ire of many teachers and some of Rhee's sharpest critics, including the local teachers' union president and the city council chairman.

"With a callous, nonspecific statement that names no one and thus blames all, Michelle Rhee has called into question the ethics of 266 men and women, and she's done it in a way that gives these individuals almost no recourse to defend themselves," George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers Union, wrote in a letter to D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who is Rhee's boss. Parker asked Rhee to apologize to teachers in his letter.

Questions immediately arose. If these teachers had been physically and sexually abusing children, why were they allowed to remain until a budget crunch required dismissing teachers? How many of the 266 teachers had been abusing students?

As the Washington City Paper explains, Rhee and other school officials are required by law to immediately report any suspected abuse of children they are aware of.

I asked Rhee on Monday to shed light on the context in which she made her comments and if she had moved to take any legal or disciplinary action against those teachers who had allegedly abused students before the October layoffs. Answers to me—and the legions of other people wanting an answer—were slow in coming.

After nearly five days of silence on the matter, Rhee responded to us all a short time ago via a two-page letter she wrote to the council chairman and two other members about their numerous concerns.

The chancellor said her comment to Fast Company was made "some time ago" while explaining that teacher performance and not just seniority was an important factor considered in deciding who to terminate during the layoffs caused by a budget cut.

"I was describing the kind of conduct that was appropriate to take into account in implementing the reduction in force," she wrote. "The examples I gave involved a very small minority of the teachers who were terminated in the budget reduction."

How small a minority? Rhee says one teacher had "serious allegations of sexual misconduct," and that teacher had been removed from the school immediately. The case was referred to police, and the teacher was not in the classroom during the time of the layoffs, she said.

Six employees who were laid-off had been previously suspended for using corporal punishment on students. Two employees had served suspensions for "being AWOL on multiple occasions and several other employees had egregious time and attendance records." In the case of these actions, the discipline procedures embedded in union contracts prescribed suspension, rather than firing for those offenses.

Have you got those numbers now?

One teacher accused of sexual misconduct, already taken out of the classroom.

Six teachers with previous suspensions for "corporal punishment."

Two with previous suspensions for being AWOL.

But she said this:

"I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee told Fast Company. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"

Nonetheless Rhee felt no compunction to apologize to the vast majority of teachers who weren't accused of having "sex with children" or hitting children.

Ironically Rhee is married to a man who has been accused of multiple events of sexual misconduct and was alleged by a US Inspector General to have helped him cover up some of those allegations, but that's a story for another time.

The point here is, whenever reformers want to drive up public outrage against teachers, they play the "Perv Teacher" fear card and conflate the issue with whatever other issues they want.

As Mary Ahern noted in her tweet, Cuomo's conflating sexual misconduct (which no one I know defends - certainly not the UFT, as Mike Mulgrew's response to Campbell Brown shows) with evaluation of so-called teacher effectiveness.

That Cuomo feels the need to conflate the two and play the "Perv Teacher" fear card shows you how little confidence he has in his argument that the public education system needs to be broken.

It also shows you how scummy Cuomo is.

Like Rhee, he has no problem smearing teachers as criminals in order to get them off the payroll.


  1. Don't hold your breath waiting for Mulgrew and Weingarten to make a statement or take action against Cuomo. He should be sued for libel since he is slandering all teachers. Anything out of the UFT and AFT will be empty words without follow through. Mulgarten are toxic moles for Cuomo.

  2. Who's Cuomo kidding? Teachers accused of sexual misconduct are immediately removed from the classroom. Even when found not guilty and even when students retract, these teachers are likely to be rubber roomed permanently. I know three of these guys with more than 10 years in paid exile.

  3. very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better.

  4. Thank you for writing this quality informational content. Your writing technique is impressive and enjoyable to read. You have many interesting points of view that give me pause to consider.

  5. I would like to say thanks for your sharing this useful information. Nice post keep it up. Hope to see you next post again soon.
    With Regards,
    First Aid Training Courses in Sydney | White Card Training Courses in Sydney