Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Response to Anti-Union Teacher, Matt Polazzo

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 colleagues?

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 target.

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.

Yours,

He who shall remain nameless

7 comments:

chaz said...

AT:

Bravo!  Matt Palazzo is simply a self-serving hypocrite.  He works a part time classroom program in a specialized school  and he is a prime candidate for E4E.

He is the typical fifth columnist.

Anon said...

Some teachers are hitching their wagons to E4E in hopes of finding a silver lining.  We saw that with one former E4E who couldn't even get tenured, not once but a few times, and is now attending Harvard so he can one day tell teachers how to teach to the test. 

We know what happens to teachers in schools that don't have contracts--there students do not perform as well as schools that are unionized.  And look at the revolving door in charter schools.  These teachers want to make a name for themselves on the backs of hard-working teachers. 

ASTRAKA said...

Excellent response AT.

1. Matt Polazzo is not as brave as he thinks advocating against the UFT. It is very easy and rewarding for his kind. It is difficult to tell the truth and work against the grain.

2. The UFT does not exist just for him. It exists for ALL of us! Polazzo is entitled to his opinion, but he has to take into consideration all UFT members. Many of us are disappointed at the UFT leadership and their incompetence but we will never advocate for the destruction of our union.

burntoutteacher said...

Bravo!

Michael Fiorillo said...

Wow, taking a stand for the rich and powerful, that takes courage.

Lisa John said...

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Anonymous said...

Polazzo you are a complete moron. Take a look at the McDonalds beat down video and then re-write your letter.