Educating Ezra Klein

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 7 2007 2:14 AM

Educating Ezra Klein

A left whippersnapper tutored by his readers about teachers' unions.

(Continued from Page 20)

"Don't Get Caught Again": Lone blogger Luke Ford, and not the L.A. Times, continues to be where you go go to find out what's really happening in the Villarsalinas sex scandal. Ford notes that the LAT, despite signs of catch-up tabloid feistiness earlier in the week, has delivered its traditional scandal-killing thumbsucker  right on schedule. Riveting headline: "Villaraigosa affair may not be one to remember." Why, "Democratic operative" Chris Lehane thinks he may survive! Ford comments:

It's stupid to write all these analysis pieces saying the mayor can overcome this scandal until we know how many more scandals are coming the pike on this score. I predict several.

He suggests some leads. ... 

P.S.: The traditional  pompous Tim Rutten piece--attacking "the gossip sheets ... that continue to proliferate like informational vermin"**--arrives right on cue as well. L.A.'s Pulitzer-winning paper is back to running at peak efficiency.

Bonus pomposity: Rutten writes--

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Villaraigosa's personal connection with Salinas is a private issue that legitimately concerns only the two of them and their families. No one else has a moral or rhetorical right to an opinion on that aspect of their conduct. [E.A.]

Why the hell not?

**-- ... like the ones that broke the story the Times helped Villaraigosa try to keep a lid on. Rutten also more or less admits the Times helped cover up the marital trouble of the previous L.A. mayor, James Hahn, even though it clearly affected his performance (when he insisted on going home to look after his kids!). ... 10:54 P.M.

The Whole Souljah? Does Obama get Souljah points for endorsing a form of "merit pay" in a speech to the big teachers' union, the National Education Association? Or did he demonstrate only that he reads the New York Times  ("Long Reviled, Merit Pay Gains Among Teachers"). ... Backfill: Eduwonk seems mildly impressed, adding:

But, I'd still really like to see someone make the true and courageous point that while hardly perfect, No Child Left Behind isn't nearly as horrific as it's made out to be.  That's post-partisan in today's climate.

Also: Is "merit pay" for good teachers nearly as important as making it easier to get rid of mediocre teachers? (You want to get hissed, tell that to the NEA.) In the successful organizations I've worked for, the positive incentives (in the form of unequal pay) weren't nearly as powerful as disincentives (in the form of fear that you might get fired if you didn't do your part). For one thing, negative incentives are highly compatible with teamwork.  They get the whole organization going, including people who'll never be hot enough to get performance bonuses. They don't breed envy and backstabbing. ... 10:21 P.M. link