To The Editor:
The Freedom of Information Law is an instrument of democracy and sometimes, therefore, a pain in the ass. And that’s the way it should be. Whether or not it is exercised in a particular situation depends on whose ass may be gored by public disclosure. The Department of Education availed itself of the Law to get its admittedly error-riddled data about teachers released, proclaiming the public interest, but really for the undeclared reason of damaging their reputation and popularizing its campaign of bullying them.
Much as they reveled in ripping off the mask of teachers’ privacy because it suited them, the Agency hid and continues to hide behind a veil of secrecy to avoid incriminating themselves. The expired Bloomberg administration has broadcast to the world its fantasy of fabulous success as a fixer of public education. It has itemized a list of triumphant “reforms” and revolutionary improvements in many areas. Now a professional organization of educators, the UFT, has filed a FOIL request for the release of DOE data that was used to justify some very controversial policies. Yes, that organization is the teachers union, but don’t let your skepticism be activated. After all, the data that is being sought will speak for itself and be accessible to experts from all quarters.
Last year they kicked and screamed when a FOIL request, after the Agency threw monkey-wrenches and land mines in its way, led ultimately to the disclosure of some rather absurd e-mails pertaining to the ex-mayor’s hand-picked prize of magazine exemplar Cathie Black to be skipper of the system’s 1,700 public schools. Maybe they misread the Act to read the “Freedom From Information Law.”
If the DOE is really proud of its legacy under the departed administration, it should welcome and not feel threatened by the public’s consciousness of its sordid mode of operation.