In the past Mathews has admitted overlooking such critical data to "make KIPP sound like more than it is." Now he's doing it again. Only this time, it's at the expense of the very teachers who are responsible for whatever successes KIPP has had. He's even threatening them if they dare "mess with" KIPP
An example of his union bashing: In Monday's WaPO, "Don't Mess With Success at This High Achieving Charter Middle School," Mathews quotes KIPP founder Jason Botel who charges that an unnamed union member responded unsympathetically to Botel's scare tactics. Botel claimed that KIPP, the wealthiest charter operator in the nation, wouldn't be able to afford to pay teachers overtime for working their typical 16-hour day, if those teachers dared to unionize.
"That's not my problem," the unnamed official supposedly tells Botel. The president of the union denies that anyone said that. But Mathews puts it out there anyway.
"Such stories," writes Mathews, "heat the blood of union critics. It is, they contend, a sign of how unions dumb down public education by focusing on salaries, not learning."This type of journalism is nothing new for Mathews. He's become an important part of a national campaign aimed at discouraging and defeating activist KIPP teachers, who are finally standing up to abuse from Botel and company and organizing for collective barganing rights.
KIPP-AMP teachers in New York, for example, are currently part of a new movement among charter school teachers, asking for the union recognition long denied them. They got a majority of KIPP teachers to sign union cards only to have their pro-union colleagues fired, threatened and intimidated by KIPP management. The teachers want an end to 16-hour teacher work days (which Mathews thinks are good for kids), lousy pay and benefits (while KIPP founders rake in millions), and firings of pro-union teachers.
Botel claims that KIPP can't afford to pay teachers properly. He claims that African-American kids learn better with overworked teachers who burn out in three years. A good journalist would question those claims. A good journalist would fact-check the "not my problem" quote, find out who supposedly said it, name them and ask them if they really said it. He would also do some investigation and ask for some evidence before drinking the KIPP kool-aid. But a good journalist wasn't writing the "don't mess" story.