For the last year, Montclair Cares about Schools has been attacking the school district and superintendent Penny MacCormack. Comprised of professional activists like Michelle Fine, MCAS has aggressively dogged the district’s efforts and built opposition to those efforts with rhetoric that was often misleading, at best. Among the most aggressive anti-district activists who make up MCAS is the “parent activist” Maia Davis.
Or at least, that’s how she was described when Al-Jazeera came to town to profile her and others’ anti-district/testing efforts.
Montclair recently announced it would spend $1 million on new computers for PARCC, even as, according to parent activist Maia Davis, multiple teachers have complained, “My classes don’t have textbooks, I’m having to get curriculum materials off the Web.”
Alternatively, she’s just described as a “resident”:
“resident Maia Davis, also of Montclair Cares About Schools, saying that it was not appropriate “capital” spending priority because technology is a short-term investment and capital improvements are long-term.”
Opponents such as resident Maia Davis declared the plan to test students district-wide in every grade simultaneously to be “a top-down, overly prescriptive approach that is directly antithetical to creative teaching.”
Maia Davis of the Montclair Cares About Schools parents organization said the group will call for “public hearings to explore the concerns White is raising in this blog.”
“The school board needs to step back from this disaster, act with civic courage and refocus on what counts to promote true equity and excellence in our schools,” said Maia Davis of MCAS.
“We think that there is a lot of growing concerns about high-stakes standardized testing around the country, including Montclair,” Maia Davis of MCAS told The Times.
All of these descriptions are true. But there’s a description for Davis that’s more true and more appropriate: Teacher Union Spokeswoman. Or more specifically, Deputy Director of Member Communications at the United Federation of Teachers, the massive teachers union of New York City.
See, that’s Davis’s day job, something that’s never revealed in any of the pieces that refer to her as a “resident” or “activist” while she protests the education issues that the local teacher union opposes.
There’s nothing wrong with Davis continuing to push the anti-reform agenda, but as a more-than-casually-interested participant in the debate, her professional interest in the debate (and the paycheck she’s drawing from it) should have been revealed. It’s possible that some folks knew about her day job, but we didn’t, and we were surprised to learn about it. We suspect that the reporters who conveyed her protests and cited her as simply a “parent advocate,” would be surprised (as well as their readers), and interested to know this as well.
As her last quote makes clear, Davis – like Michelle Fine – views this debate in the context of a national fight, and given her employer’s interests, that explains why she is so involved.
Indeed, the timing is particularly interesting. Prior to joining UFT, Davis worked for SEIU. While I can’t find an announcement of when she joined UFT, the last press release she’s listed on for SEIU was December 20th, 2012.
The release she’s listed on for UFT is dated February 28th, 2013.
And when did ‘Montclair Cares About Schools’ Get Started?
Less than a month later. To us, that’s a bit too striking a coincidence to be a coincidence. And so it’s probably not a coincidence that one of their most aggressive spokespeople is really a professional spokesperson, employed by the massive teachers union across the river that has been one of the most aggressive in fighting reform efforts. A union where her boss recently got caught on tape bragging about his efforts to “gum up the works” – exactly the sort of strategy Davis seems to be employing here in Montclair.