July 26, 2011
A veteran teacher who disrupted an Educators 4 Excellence panel last month has learned that he isn’t welcome at the group’s future events.
Stuart Kaplan, a nine-year teacher at High School for Law and Public Service in Brooklyn, joined Educators 4 Excellence because he believed that the teaching profession could be improved by more dialogue.
“I feel that there needs to be discussions between educators. It was my hope that they wanted to foster a real conversation,” Kaplan said of E4E. He signed a pledge required of all members to agree to certain policy positions help by E4E and he attended several events, which are closed to the general public.
But he publicly disavowed his membership last month after a blow-up with founder Evan Stone at a teacher evaluation panel. Annoyed that the group had released a teacher evaluation proposal earlier in the day because he believed too little feedback from E4E members was solicited, Kaplan repeatedly interrupted Stone, prompting an early end to the event
But E4E did not remove him from its email list, and he received invitations to additional events, including one tonight, which he accepted.
Last week, Stone personally called him to inform him he wasn’t welcome unless he recommitted to E4E’s core principles. Kaplan refused and Stone said that he would be barred from attending future events.
“He also told me that my name was placed with security and that I wouldn’t be allowed to attend their meeting,” Kaplan wrote in an email. “I was shocked by this phone call.”
A spokeswoman noted that E4E’s membership events are a long-standing policy and Kaplan’s dismissal was voluntary.”This event is for E4E members and this individual is no longer a member,” said Kerri Lyon, for E4E.
Educators 4 Excellence is an advocacy group for teachers that has grown rapidly since it launched a year ago, helped in part by the support of national philanthropists, including the Gates Foundation, and established reform groups, such as Democrats for Education Reform
and Education Reform Now (Update: ERN has never contributed support to E4E, and published this report in error).
As its profile has risen, so has criticism about the group’s rigid insistence that members must subscribe to specific positions — about teacher evaluations, merit pay, and how layoffs are conducted. Anyone – not just educators – can join, as long as they check off a box and fill out contact information on the group’s web site, but there’s no way to “cancel” a membership. The group says it currently has over 4,000 members.
Kaplan said that before speaking to Stone he didn’t receive notice that his membership was officially terminated. He said he still plans to attend tonight’s panel.