A heartbreaking year at the CCSD

This is the week of the year when we journalists look back and summarize what we have written or reported about. Here is my summary:

It was chaos. Total chaos.

That is just about everything. Thanks for reading, guys!

OK fine.

I wrote about the CCDS, of course. More specifically the board of directors. I started, before the pandemic, by wanting to report on the financing of education. But then, looking at the board, I couldn’t help but see the racism and – most importantly – sexism exercised by members against each other.

What I saw was a fundamental difference in the value of standards, and therefore, a fundamental difference in the perceived value of people.

And that pissed me off.

Let me stop here for a second, because there are people who are going to say, “Journalists should never be pissed off. They must be impartial, objective, and look at the world with calm, freshness and distance. “


Journalism is about keeping the truth in power. At best, it’s Edward R. Murrow taking on Joe McCarthy. They are Megan Twohey, Jodi Cantor and Rowan Farrow who are launching a whole movement that puts sexual harassment at the forefront. These are two Washington Post reporters who follow the money until a US president resigns.

Power, as we have defined it over the past century, is about corruption and greed, money and retaliation.

These are good things to watch, expose, and uproot. But the two most powerful forces in our society are racism and sexism. And there isn’t a plethora of journalists holding the truth to it.

Think about it. The idea of ​​objectivity didn’t really merge until the mid-1920se century. The 1930s and 1950s. When Jim Crow ruled in about a third of the country. When white women had to stay at home, obediently creating a nuclear family. When black women often had more than one job, many of them were closely tied to white society, and we still didn’t see them.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the whitest spaces I’ve ever been in are newsrooms. Even recently. And it wasn’t at all surprising when half of the men who lost their jobs and their reputations because of #MeToo were journalists.

Honestly, it was more surprising how many men didn’t lose their jobs.

In 2020 – three years after #MeToo – one of the most famous reporters of UMOA and another at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have long been accused of sexual harassment. One harassed the women he reported on, as well as the women he worked with. Another was protected by his bosses and his union.

Please someone tell me that the attitudes towards women, of everyone involved, did not influence what these journalists covered and how they covered it.

So I wrote about sexism on the CCSD board. And I will continue doing it.

Let’s come back to this “fundamental difference in the perceived value of people”. Because I am starting to see this as the heart of what afflicts the CCSD. They don’t value people. Students. Parents. Teachers. People.

About a year and a half ago, someone who was in Jara’s cabinet … don’t worry, there have been around 40 people filling the 16 positions in Jara’s cabinet since June 2018, so I’m not going out. not that person. Anyway, someone who was in Jara’s cabinet asked me why I had written about Jara the way I do.

My response was quick and simple: I hate bullies.

I despise tyrants.

I want to expose all the tyrants.

After I answered, the person sighed and said, “Well that’s right. He’s a tyrant.

I just looked at the person. I really wanted to say, “Why don’t you shout that from the rooftops ?! You are in education. Don’t you care about fairness? Don’t you care about the teachers? Students? Why are you silent

I’ve honestly spent the whole year wondering why people are silent. I understand that people are afraid. But I guarantee you that if 50 principals had come forward and told their stories of retaliation and how the students were hurt the night Jara was fired, he would not have been reinstated.

I’ve talked to a lot of teachers lately. Teachers who have left CCSD. Teachers considering leaving the CCSD. Teachers who stay but are fed up, and wonder for the first time when they could reach their breaking point.

There are a number of reasons people give. Money. How people move up the salary ladder. Or not. Assurance. Teachers Health Trust is a big one. Almost every teacher I have spoken to so far has noted that they are paying out of pocket for their therapist. Which makes me wonder if I should start writing about the lives of overworked therapists.

But even with their virtual insurance collapse, even with doctors dropping THT across the county, teachers tell me their number one problem right now is that they’re not being respected. They are not treated like professionals, but like cattle to be pushed towards this or that school, memorizing prefabricated programs rather than meeting the needs of their students.

I started to track the number of times a teacher I interviewed used a variation of the word heartbroken.

I think Alexis Salt said it best, about teachers and students. “Schools are kind of miserable places right now. There is not much joy, and when there is no joy, there is no curiosity.

Her students, she says, look at her and say, “The world is on fire. Shakespeare is useless.

I don’t agree with them. But I understand where they come from.

Over the next few weeks, and much of the next year, I’ll be focusing on the teachers – their fears, their frustrations, their joy, if at all.

We live in a world in which the bad guys win and the good guys are painted with the insult “Professor”. I don’t buy this.

As Salt pointed out, students act in part because they’ve been through trauma in the past year and a half that no one is tackling, and also because they see their teachers being seen as useless by the people and systems that employ them. If Jara doesn’t respect teachers… if principals and vice-principals talk to teachers with contempt… why should students treat them better?

I will always cover the board and the question that was raised at the last state council meeting about a possible takeover of CCSD. It’s intriguing. But at this point, it’s just a matter of talking.

But I’m going to stay focused on keeping the truth in power, on standing up for the voiceless. Because we have to show the students of Salt something. Stories matter. Let’s tell them.

Oh, and dare I say, Happy 2022?

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