Thompson: Opening Files On Whistleblowers
The New York Times' Michael Powell, in "On Special Education, Spurned Teacher is Vindicated," recounts the story of a NYC teacher, Harris Lirtman, who reported serious violations of special education law. The worst was the school's policy of shuttling one unqualified teacher after another into special education classes. Powell writes that the school's practice "treads perilously close to educational malpractice."
These are the type of violations, we in Oklahoma City were always warned, that could end your career. And indeed, when the principal did not respond, Lirtman followed procedures and brought the charges to the Department of Education's investigative unit. But, the DOE "opened a file on him instead." The teacher's principal gave him a satisfactory evaluation, overall, marking him down for professional attitude and good relations with the administration. Lirtman lost his job. At this point, the DOE should start a rigorous accountablity process. But, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents principals, argues that "higher-ups" approved the principal's decisions, "including placing substitute teachers in special education classrooms on a rotating basis." Its president predicted that the DOE's mistakes will be "landing on the heads of my members.” I bet he's right.- JT(@drjohnthompson) via.