I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

24 September 2011

More Unsent Letters

Dear Christian Science Monitor,

How nice of you to send me a teaser magazine suggesting I subscribe to your publication.  The contents of that teaser were exceptionally instructive, particularly when you explained how money doesn't matter to school success.

As you see it in your center-right, two-sides-to-every-issue faux contrarianism, some schools are making it work without a penny extra.  Apparently they do this through merit pay.  Since my understanding is that merit pay would, in fact, lead to higher salaries, I must assume money is being cut elsewhere - either through destroying retirement funds or cutting student programs, I suppose.

Despite there being not one datum that supports merit pay in any way, I have to tell you you're missing the obvious:

Money Does Too Matter.

Money matters for my students, who annually get more crowded classrooms with fewer resources.  It matters to their families, many of whom live in poverty with all of its deleterious effects on school success (bad health, trauma, poor nutrition, food insecurity, housing insecurity...).  It matters to me, because I am on track to spend more than my "Hard to Staff" bonus on the school supplies California won't buy this year.

It matters to the many, many upper-middle class parents - some of whom undoubtedly work for the Monitor - as they willingly pay five and six and seven times more than California's per-pupil allocation in search of well-funded, low-poverty private schools.

And it definitely matters to you, editors of the Christian Science Monitor.  What underlies all this "school success has nothing to do with cash" nonsense is selfishness.  "Public schools take too much of our hard-earned tax dollars," you huff and puff.  "We need that money for other things, like tax breaks for the wealthy.  After all, private school tuition is higher than ever!"

Your teaser made it abundantly clear that your publication is not to my tastes, and I'm not the kind of reader you want.  In the future, to save on paper and postage, I recommend that you cross-check your purchased mailing lists with public teacher credential databases.

All the Best,

E. Rat



CarolineSF said...

I haven't yet found which item in the paper you're quoting, but I'm going to defend the Monitor (not that I'm urging you to subscribe).

Disclaimer that I am not a believing Christian at all, let alone a Christian Scientist. I am a veteran newspaper journalist.

The Monitor has a reputation for high-quality journalism independent of its religious affiliation. I've been following education reform controversies for many years. 10 years ago when the mainstream media was gushing about the "miracle" of the for-profit charter school operator Edison Schools, the Monitor was doing solid, intelligent coverage of Edison, which stood out compared to the rest of the press -- that's the reason I'm taking the trouble to defend it. If they ran an editorial claiming that money doesn't matter to schools, I agree that's clueless or worse - but no worse than what most of the mainstream press does to teachers and schools.

Also BTW, based on Christian Scientists I've known, it's not a "Christian right" religion -- it's not my cup of tea and has its odd beliefs, but Christian Scientists I know as are liberal as any good San Franciscan. The Monitor definitely deserves to get blasted if it said that schools don't need more money, but I just have to say that aside from that it's a more intelligent newspaper than many, if not most.

E. Rat said...

Yeah, I know it's not a Christian publication. I do think center-right is more than fair, though - the teaser also explained the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque, giving equal attention to both sides of the story.

Sometimes that "objective" journalism isn't all that objective. I think the intent of the teaser was to show how awesomely two-sided their coverage was, but the problem is they had to create the second side to show that. Schools DO need more money. The mosque protestors ARE xenophobes. Suggesting otherwise sells a false and conservative worldview.

CarolineSF said...

Oh, I have sharp criticisms of media coverage, especially of (but not limited to) education. I just wanted to correct any misimpression that this particular paper was worse than others or was some Christian-right rag. I've found it better than others on some significant ed-reformy issues.