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Turkey of the Week Award "Winners"
An Educators' News Continuing Feature

Turkey of the WeekI started the Educators' News Turkey of the Week award to twist the tail of a local school superintendent a bit. (It worked!) Since that time, I really have been overwhelmed with folks who claim to be "doing it for the kids" when they're not and just gave up the effort except in the most egregious instances. For a time, I could simply have rotated a weekly award between Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and his clueless State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, but they all know it all anyway, and won't be influenced in any way by experienced educators.

So here are my obviously less than weekly picks so far:

Turkey of the WeekMarch 26, 2010 - Vigo Schools Superintendent Danny Tanoos got the initial EdNews Turkey of the Week Award for cheating me out of a week's work and wages. I guess I should be embarrassed for using EdNews for grinding my personal ax, but I also could give Danny the award any week in any year for his rampant nepotism in hiring and promotion of school personnel, requiring experienced classroom teachers to use scripted reading lessons and be on the same page every day as every other same grade level teacher in the corporation, for teachers throughout the system who speak his name with fear (instead of awe) in their voices, for alleged trysts with other school personnel, and ... You get the idea.

Turkey of the WeekApril 2, 2010 - Representatives in the Florida legislature who voted for a bill, "affectionately called a 'hammer' on the teaching profession by its sponsor," requiring:

School systems to evaluate and pay teachers primarily on the basis of student test scores. (Testing experts say this is unfair and unworkable.)
School systems to ignore a teacher’s experience, advanced degrees or professional credentials in any evaluation or pay.
School systems to put newly hired teachers on probation for five years and then give them annual contracts for the rest of their careers.
The creation of more standardized tests for students, to cover subjects not already assessed.

Turkey of the WeekFebruary 15, 2011 - Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White got our award for threatening to quit after the IPS board voted down his proposal for shifting a number of administrators to preserve jobs in turnaround schools. White's plan also included the promotion of his son, a "behavior dean" at one "failing" high school to become "an assistant principal" at another such school with a whopping pay boost of $13,000! The son's salary, $78,606, is pretty impressive by midwestern educational pay standards for someone with about 12 years of experience. But including the boost to $92,000 in a contentious proposal was just plain wrong. In the end, a board member was apparently bought off and the Whites got their way.

Turkey of the WeekApril 11, 2011 - Fox News contributor William LaJeunesse got a big Turkey of the Week for what could be described as a big whopper of a lie. LaJeunesse, jumping on the teacher bashing bandwagon, stated that "the U.S. spends more on education than defense." I suppose if one adds in state and private school expenditures on education, LaJeunesse's new Fox News Falsehood might come close to his numbers. But the obvious intent (at least to me) of the article was to mislead readers into believing the federal education budget was bigger than the defense budget. Fortunately, a commenter to the article called him out with the correction, "The federal government spends 90 billion on education and 800 billion on defense." Maybe someone else should start a Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire Award!

Turkey of the WeekJanuary 13, 2012 - Highly respected New York Times' columnist Nicholas D. Kristof received our Turkey of the Week award for his naive embrace of "value-added" scores in teacher evaluations and adding his voice to the "bad teacher" mantra of education "reformers" and those dedicated to turning over attempts to improve our nation's schools to corporate methods. Nick should know better.

Well, there they are. There really are no established criteria for this award. I just give it when I find someone doing or saying something really outrageous in the field of education. And note that really, really blatant bad behavior (love the alliteration) directly bypasses the Turkey of the Week Award and earns them a full column. For examples over the years, see:

Also, please note that I still refuse to give 2012 presidential aspirant Mitch Daniels any award. His treatment of the poor and disabled in Indiana, teachers in the state who've dedicated their lives to educating our children, and the working people of the state, should disqualify him from any award or public office ever.

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last updated 1/13/2012
©2011-2012 Steven L. Wood