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Fact-checking claims about the Absent Teacher Reserve pool

New York Magazine’s news blog Daily Intel ran a post this morning summing up the Wall Street Journal’s take on the number of unemployed teachers who are “ignoring openings,” as the Journal put it. Both publications got facts wrong, but in their own ways.

Daily Intel’s post adheres faithfully to the WSJ and Department of Education’s line until the very last paragraph when its author took a left turn. She writes:

The Journal thinks Klein is holding on to the pool for philosophical purity. For Mr. Klein, forcing teachers into vacancies would go against his philosophy of giving principals market-based autonomy and accountability. So in order to promote free-market principals and accountability, Klein wants to offer job security for life to laid-off employees during a recession with no stipulations for getting them back into the city’s workforce? We must have missed that social-studies class.

Klein does not want to offer job security for life to laid-off employees during a recession with no stipulations for getting them back into the city’s workforce. In fact, he wants the opposite.

The pool of excessed teachers exists because Klein believes it is more important to give principals choice in who they hire than it is to limit spending by keeping every teacher, good or bad, in a classroom. The teachers union won’t allow him to remove excessed teachers from the payroll — some argue it would defeat the entire idea of having a labor union at your back — so he made his choice and he’s stuck with it until he or the union budges.

There’s also a slight problem with the Wall Street Journal’s lede, which reads:

A majority of New York City teachers who lost their positions at schools earlier this year have neither applied for another job in the system nor attended any recruitment fairs in recent months, according to data released by the Department of Education Thursday.

We don’t know if a majority of New York City teachers who were excessed in the last year failed to pursue a real job hunt. We know that most (60 percent) of the 1700 teachers who haven’t found work did not go to recruitment fairs or apply to jobs online. But those 1700 people are 60 percent of the 3,000 teachers who were in the excess pool at its peak this summer. So really, 60 percent of 60 percent of the excessed teachers — which does not a majority make — did not use the established routes to find a job.

The city has not made any job search details public for the 1,3000 teachers who did get new positions.