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Value-Added: Poorly-Rated Teacher Found Dead [updated]

 

Sad news in any case.  A local TV station is linking a teacher's suicide to his poor rating in the LA Times' value added series.  (Missing South Gate teacher found dead ABC7) Via @avalonsensei.  UPDATE:  Still no direct link but the paper has issued a condolence statement here.

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Obviously a fully healthy and stable person could weather being publicly shamed without being driven to suicide. But as there is no way to disprove that the Times feature was the tipping point, as Mr. Ruelas' family immediately cited it, and as the Times can't possibly try to defend itself, its atrocious feature will be justifiably assumed to have been the tipping point.

If you actually click the link and seriously ponder how the Times' graphic treatment of the "less effective/more effective" continuum would look to someone looking up Mr. Ruelas' rating, and to Mr. Ruelas himself, it's impossible to call that anything BUT a public shaming. The colorful format certainly overshadows the weak "...capture only one aspect of a teacher's work..." disclaimer in the text.

http://projects.latimes.com/value-added/teacher/rigoberto-ruelas/

I'm a veteran metro daily copy editor (San Jose Mercury News, 1982-'96), but I have to say this is the tipping point in my turning fully against my former profession. They have gone rogue and are waging an all-out attack on teachers and public education, for no possible positive outcome. It's as mindless as those silly newspaper conventions like including the age of everyone quoted, except that this particular bit of mindlessness has disastrous and tragic consequences.

It's now open warfare, and I've been forced to choose my side.

here and LA weekly column takes AJ Duffy and Ray Cortines to task for blaming the suicide on the LA Times and for the underlying situation

http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/education/aj-duffy-should-resign-suicide/

another blog post uncovers the likely source of the speculation about the link to the LA Times

http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/education/rigoberto-ruelas-suicide-at-la/

the LA Times notes that the South Gate police department isn't sure where the information about ruelas' motives came from

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/09/south-gate-elementary-teacher-death.html

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.