Matt Polazzo, a teacher at Stuyvesant, recently appeared in the Daily News promoting the Success Charter run by Eva Moskowitz. I blogged about it here. Mr. Polazzo is also the person who suggested that we should rip up the union contract in an opinion piece in the same Daily News. He emailed me his side of this issue. I will not post his email here, but I have chosen to post my response to him, which follows below. The first paragraph refers to Mr. Polazzo's dismay that I blog anonymously while calling myself Accountable:
The irony in my
anonymity, if any, lies in the fact that I am a tenured teacher whose
views might end up getting him fired if his name became known. I have
told the truth about Bloomberg, Klein, Black, Walcott, and other power
brokers in the DOE. They do monitor my blog, and it would be foolish for
me to disclose my identity. Tenure is supposed to protect me and give
me the freedom of speech that an educator should have, but it does not. I
have heard of at least one blogger who was U rated after her identity
became known. She is now out of the system. You would have it that
tenured teachers can not be removed. That is nonsense. I know
outstanding teachers who have run afoul of admins and were fired for
their troubles. This includes union leaders who were fired for their
involvement with the UFT.
You took a poke at this blog, alleging that few people read it.
While "few" is subjective, you can see that I have 72 followers, and I
have received more than a half a million hits. One post of mine reached
150,000 readers. Quite a few of your own students have been here, if you
care to read the comments in the posts that feature you as their
subject. Perhaps you're just hoping that no one hears how real teachers
feel about your blatant betrayal of your colleagues and your union?
You asked me quite a few questions about my personal life, which I
decline to answer, once again for the sake of anonymity. You seem to
think using your name makes you more courageous than me, but followers
of Kim Jong-un who praise their dear leader aren't showing courage. You
are likewise showing no courage by sticking up for the billionaires who
would steal the jobs and pensions of hard working teachers.
In your letter, you claim to be anti-union. Don't you find it in the
least hypocritical that you rake in the benefits of union protection
while trying to tear it down? As a 14 year teacher, presumably with a
master's plus 30, you earn at least $80K a year. Do you think anyone
would be paying you that without your union negotiating on your behalf?
When you go to the doctor, are you thankful for the health benefits that
the contract affords you, or do you wish you could rip up the contract
and pay your medical bills yourself?
Exactly how much do you think Eva Moskowitz would be paying you?
What job protections would you have? Do you think you'd perform as well
teaching poor inner city children as you seem to teaching the brightest
kids in NY at Stuyvesant? If you are so anti-union, quit it and go work
for Eva. You want to talk the talk, then walk the walk. Then I'd have
respect for your position, if not agreement.
Speaking of which, it's extremely easy for you to ask for the
contract to be ripped up when you teach at a school like Stuyvesant.
Those kids are self motivated, and even if you sucked as a teacher, they
would still do quite well. Why don't you try teaching in a high
poverty, gang-riddled neighborhood as I did for 20 years and see how
well you do. Perhaps that experience might make you more aware of the
issues involved in good teaching. Perhaps then you might appreciate the
job protections that your union affords you, especially when your class
is NOT a group of Harvard bound seniors, but a bunch of kids who are
lucky if they manage to scrape through high school.
You claim that the article in the News, in which you vilify your
union and your fellow teachers, was not submitted by you. So what? You
clearly gave your consent once you found out that they wanted to publish
the piece. Was your 15 minutes of fame worth selling out your
Regarding your daughter winning the lottery for Eva's school: You
claim it was fortuitous that the reporter for the Daily News just
happened to be there when you were and just happened to ask you
questions that showed Eva in a good light. Perhaps so, but this is the
same newspaper that used you once before to strike out at your
colleagues. It's entirely reasonable for anyone to be suspicious when
you suddenly appear in the same paper, lauding a charter school while
you work for the public schools.
What concerns me most about your efforts to sabotage the UFT is that
you have no skin in the game, and that you offer no solutions. Your
skin is safe in Stuyvesant--as I said, whether you are a good teacher or
not, your students will perform. More concerning is your lack of
solutions. You advocate throwing out the UFT contract but say nothing
about what would take its place (if anything). How many teachers might
lose their jobs unjustly if the contract disappeared tomorrow? How many
excellent teachers would be fired because they could be replaced by two
newbies? Maybe if your job was at stake, as well as your ability to
provide for your daughter, you might think twice before advocating that
others be fired without due process.
Finally, you claim that education is in "crisis" and that we need to
do something. I suggest you read Diane Ravitch, who knows more about
this than anyone else in America. She would tell you that American
students are actually doing better than ever in the PISA tests, and that
if we adjust for poverty of our students, we perform as well as any
nation in the world. So the "crisis" is a crisis of poverty, and you
will never solve it by attacking teachers, any more than Bush solved the
problem of terrorism attacking Iraq. You solve a problem by attacking
the things that cause it, and not by randomly attacking the easiest
Your attack on the union was Bush-like, and bush league. If you
really want to help children, you'll advocate for an end to poverty, and
not take a sledge hammer to your colleagues.
I will be posting
this letter (but not your letter to me) on my blog, in the hopes that my
tiny audience will read it. I once again extend you an offer to guest
blog and attempt to refute anything I have said here.
I do appreciate you writing to me, and I hope you decide that you would like to respond publicly.
He who shall remain nameless