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The stupidity's waist-deep and rising

Via the Education Wonks' Carnival of Education, I discovered this piece by Joe Gandelman, who wrote about this story in the New York Daily News. Go and give it a read, then come back here.

I've lost track of the sheer volume of dumbassery inherent in this story. Let me see if I can sum it all up:

* A guy with a degree in education can't pass a simple test to keep his job.

* The test New York uses to qualify teachers can be passed in flying colors by a guy with borderline autism.

* A skinny black guy in his 30's with a degree in education thinks that he can get a fat white guy in his 50's can pass for him.

* The city of New York doesn't notice that a fat white guy in his 50's shows up when they're expecting a skinny black guy in his 30's.

* A guy smart enough to ace the test for teacher certification in New York is dumb enough to commit a crime and impersonate another person for $2.00.

* A 38-year-old guy with a degree in education thinks that he can pass himself off as his "son" to a reporter.

I'm waiting for the final chapter in this story to be written -- the teacher (well, suspended and soon to be fired teacher) files a lawsuit over his job. It's a pity Johnny Cochran now busy justifying himself to Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.

I guess there's always the ACLU...



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Comments (19)

One telling point is that t... (Below threshold)

One telling point is that the homeless guy has Asperger's Syndrome.

That's the sort of autism often described as "high functioning." Someone with Asperger's has a lot of trouble picking up interpersonal cues, but can focus on academic and other subjects with an extreme degree of focus.

You end up with the sort of guy who won't let you touch anything on his desk, and who can't tell when you're joking or not, but who can tell you everything in the world about whatever subject he focuses on (and, usually, a lot of other subjects as well).

My favorite part is that h... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

My favorite part is that he conned the school district into giving the guy a school ID with his name and picture on it. To anyone with a brain, that should have shot up a red flag.

To quote Robert Heinlein (o... (Below threshold)

To quote Robert Heinlein (or perhaps it's a paraphrase): "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity."

"passed in flying colors by... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"passed in flying colors by a guy with borderline autism."

Just so you know, having autism doesn't mean they can't pass a test, as a matter of fact many people with autism are much better at keeping track of facts than people without. My son has autism, and he is academically well above grade level.

A friend of mine has a son ... (Below threshold)

A friend of mine has a son with Asperger's Syndrome and he is pretty bright and reads well above his grade level. He has trouble with other common sense stuff though like having a tendency to take everything people say literally and has trouble with relating to other people.

I actually find this part of the story the most disturbing:
"If he failed the state exam again, Brightly risked losing his $59,000-a-year job."

So they were already paying him $59,000 a year when he was too stupid to pass a test with a 95% pass rate.

This was also disturbing: "About 19,000 teachers across the state take the certification exam each year and roughly 95% pass. Teachers are required to be certified - but the city has a temporary waiver from the state because the Education Department has not been able to find enough qualified instructors." How can they be short when 95% of the people pass the test?

>It's a pity Johnny Cochran... (Below threshold)

>It's a pity Johnny Cochran now busy justifying himself to Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.

Jay that might be the best single line you've ever written. lol

DJ:It's credited t... (Below threshold)
Captain Ned:


It's credited to Heinlein, but may not really be his. The exact quote is "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity"


New York City is short of c... (Below threshold)

New York City is short of certified teachers because teachers earn more elsewhere in New York State. Plus, many of the suburban/rural public school districts in NYS are actually quite good. Even if there were not an income differential between NYC and NYS, many more teachers would want to teach outside of NYC; therefore, NYC has a shortage of certified teachers.

One you forgot:Whe... (Below threshold)

One you forgot:

When selecting someone to take and pass a test that he couldn't pass, he settled on a homeless guy with borderline autism.

I agree with what everyone said above about autism - I'm just saying that on the surface this wouldn't be the guy I'd pick.

Captain Ned, I stand correc... (Below threshold)

Captain Ned, I stand corrected.

It's interesting, though. The two statements don't quite express the same thought. Both are good thoughts to live by.

Dave, so what you are sayin... (Below threshold)

Dave, so what you are saying is that New York City is a magnet for the stupid and less qualified teachers of New York State.

Do you know if $59,000 a year is a typical salary for a NY City or State teacher?

How can they be short wh... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

How can they be short when 95% of the people pass the test?

Actually, the problem is a lack of people coming out of college with education degrees or degrees with the proper field of study. For instance, in our state two years ago, the in-state colleges graduated exactly one person with a teaching degree in physics. With approximately 300 high schools in the state all required to have at least one physics teacher, that is a serious shortage. What some plces do is offer bonuses to teachers that are willing to go back and get certified in a shortage area. Using the physics example, our high school lacked a physics teacher. A physical science teacher (a different discipline) took the certification tests for physics and added that to his resume' and now teaches physics.

DJ and Captain Ned,<p... (Below threshold)
Jim in Texas:

DJ and Captain Ned,

As a criminal investigator for 30 years I began every investigation with that Heinlein quote and another one, "There are no coincidences in criminal investigations,” as my initial premise.

It might surprise many people how often one or the other of those two philosophies led to a successful conclusion.

In the above incident, I think the Heinlein quote would have been my first thought.

I have a 13 year old son wh... (Below threshold)

I have a 13 year old son who has Aspergers. He has the intellect and vocabulary of an adult but he has no patience for book learning. He refuses to pay attention, but when you're not looking, he'll rip off 10 math problems during a commercial break.

He also swears like a sailor.

How soon will jesse-the... (Below threshold)

How soon will jesse-the-jackass and al-the-simpleton be on the streets of new york shouting about how it was all the fault of Leitner, and how brightly was the victim of racism? Of course, the dnc and MSM will also try to find some way to toss in Karl Rove and his part in this fiaco.

Jesse's stuck in Florida in... (Below threshold)

Jesse's stuck in Florida in the middle of the Schiavo deal, so it's up to Al.

Jim in Texas,It's ... (Below threshold)

Jim in Texas,

It's always my first thought. I confront it almost daily.

Well, Geroge Felos appears ... (Below threshold)

Well, Geroge Felos appears to have schizophrenia and look at all that "legal" work he's been able to wrangle! As long as you keep the context of "I want to die" in there somewhere, Felos is highly functioning and to all appearances, quite alert! He'll even channel various voices to prove his capabilities!

Do you know if $59,000 a... (Below threshold)

Do you know if $59,000 a year is a typical salary for a NY City or State teacher?

If he's 38, he's probably been teaching for 16 years. In Shawnee Mission Kansas, a 16-year teacher makes $55k per year.

A 16-year teacher must also have taken enough graduate level courses to obtain 75 credits, which is two or three 2-credit courses every year. There is a school here that offers 2-credit graduate-level education courses that last exactly one weekend: 8 AM to 4 PM Saturday and Sunday.

These courses are on such complex technical matters as "Finding and Using Humor in the Classroom" and "Digital Cameras for the Classroom."

If they've got that here in Kansas (As Big As You Think It Is) (TM) I would imagine that something similar is available in New York (I {heart} NY) (not TM).






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