UFT Teacher Bashing: A Call for Jason Kovac to Speak Up

Yeah, I know.  It was a short hiatus.  Yet the recent edition of the New York Teacher got my attention.

The New York Teacher, the publication arm of the United Federation of Teachers, used to be a fun read.  Lately, it’s been moribund with stats, election endorsements, ads for condos in Florida, and pictures of union functions featuring teachers in all sorts of ghastly knit patterns.

What made the Teacher fun was its “outing” of what were considered bad or dangerous school administrators.  Every week, the paper had a half-page expose on some dictatorial principal, a martinet superintendant, or the bewildered staff developer that lets things slide out of confusion and neglect.  Comedy, as we all know, is tragedy that happens to someone else. so I got a particualr joy out of reading these, because

(a) for the most part, these guys deserved a comeuppance, as evidenced by their smug demeanor to UFT reporters; and

(b) these hapless administrators were not mine.

This week’s Teacher has returned to its muckraking roots with a vengeance, yet I’m getting a feeling that full access to both sides should be in order.

Page 5 of the December 16, 2010 issue features a particularly venomous screed against PS 14X principal Jason Kovac.  According to the article, Kovac–a Leadership Academy graduate (a program created to make principals from outside the education world) who took over PS 14 in June 2008–is rude, arrogant, and intimidating to his teaching staff.  He chastises and bullies teachers in front of students, ignores grievances and along with his co-principal Mildred Jones, has created an atmosphere so poisonous that this once thriving school dropped from an A to a C on its recent Progress Report.

He has made enemies of the school staff, parents, community board and the union.  Yet his voice is noticeably silent from this article.  I really hope the New York Teacher managed to contact his office to at least offer comment.  Otherwise, its a severe breach of journalistic protocol.

Whatever the case, as much as I would like to see principals like this hung out to dry, my belief in honest journalism impels me to ask Mr. Kovac to offer his side of the story.  Therefore, I am offering this space in Mr. D’s Neighborhood to Jason Kovac to present his side, with the following guidelines:

(1) no ad hominem attacks.

(2) share the improvements you have made since you took over in 2008; and

(3) address why your leadership style has generated so much alleged venom from staff, parents and the community, at least according to the article.

Anyone who’s familiar with the Neighborhood knows that it generally keeps to a pro-teacher stance.  However, it bothers me that I hear nothing from the other side–it just against my good sense of journalistic integrity.

If Mr. Kovac can keep to the guidelines, he is more than willing to send me his side of the story so it can be printed here for the readers at the Neighborhood.

Anyone who works at PS 14, or knows anyone at PS 14, please send this link to Mr. Kovac, with my compliments.  I hope to hear from him soon.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “UFT Teacher Bashing: A Call for Jason Kovac to Speak Up

  1. One of the teachers who left PS 14

    Mr. D, I really hope that Mr. Kovac responds to your call for comment. You should know, however, that he has refused meetings with UFT brass, parents, and does not attend Safety Committee, PTA, or School Leadership Team meetings. His stance so far has been to avoid answering questions when asked. He believes himself above reproach. Good luck getting him to comment.

  2. I’ll keep checking back to see if you get a response. Good administrators are hard to find.

  3. Anthony S.

    Finally a leader who is not putting up with the status quo and he is getting major push back from the UFT. I can’t say that I’m surprised… The UFT would defend a corpse. The UFT’s constant defense of lousy teachers is exactly why the system isn’t changing and exactly why Charter Schools are taking over our city! So once again, thanks UFT! PS 14 staff–don’t change and thing and in two years when you are sharing the building with a charter school and half of you are excessed you will all eat crow.

  4. Maria

    There are no issues at this school only a few angry, exhausted, lousy teachers trying to make a lot of noise.Apparently they don’t want to work and want to blame the principal. Typical…

  5. Pingback: Update on the Jason Kovac situation at PS 14 | Mr. D’s Neighborhood

  6. Warren Goldman

    To the moderator of this blog (Mr. D)-

    I am Mr. Kovac’s attorney and will be representing him on all matters of communication concerning his tenure as principal. At this point, we will say that there is legal action that my client is pursuing against various individuals affiliated with Public School 14 and the surrounding community. After the closing of these matters, it will be clear to everyone what an effective school leader my client was and how this was clearly a case of professional and personal slander.

    Warren Goldman

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