SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Karma Smacks Los Angeles Times Reporter Jason Felch

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Karma Smacks Los Angeles Times Reporter Jason Felch

Karma usually has a way of coming back and kicking you in the butt. This week Los Angeles Times reporter Jason Felch felt Karma's full wrath.

For those that do not recall, Jason spearheaded a Los Angeles Times report in August of 2010 using data of that funky science of value added measurements to determine who is and isn't an effective teacher. Jason took great pride in doing his part reporting what he saw out of context, but to destroy careers as well.

We here at SBSB soon took great pride in exposing, as well as mocking, Jason Felch and his sidekick, economist Richard Buddin in their use of the funky science as well as the smug glee shown by Jason.

But there was a dark side to all this gloating from Jason. A teacher in Los Angeles, Rigoberto Ruelas was determined by Jason Felch and Richard Buddin to be ineffective. A teacher that was loved and respected by his students, their parents, the community he taught in as well as colleagues, friends, and his family.

Due to the reporting of Jason Felch and the funky science provided by Richard Buddin, Rigoberto took his own life shortly after he was outed as determined by the Times and Felch. To this day, Felch has always refused any culpability in Rigoberto's death.

In fact as a source shared with The Crack Team here at SBSB, at a conference about VAM, Anthony Cody confronted Felch about Rigoberto's suicide, Jason as always showed just how classy he is by responding when no one was looking;
"You're  despicable!!! How dare you blame me for that???!!!"
Stay classy Jason.

More from Jason's reporting in 2010 as our source shared with The Crack Team;
Jason totally lied about the purpose of the visit to the school... both to him and to the administrators. They said that they had heard good things about their school and certain teachers, and wanted to see it and write about it.

THE TRUTH: the story and its conclusions were already written. They had identified an older teacher (Smith) with low VAM, and a young teacher with high VAM in the same grade. So they went in and cherry-picked observations that fit the "older teachers suck/younger teachers rule" narrative.

The young Hispanic teacher was the second coming of Jaime Escalante, with descriptions of his dynamic teaching, and enganged students. Smith was describled as having unengaged, apathetic students. Smith said that they were in his room for five minutes tops. The truth was that because Smith was ex-military, he was assigned a tougher group of kids, and Superboy was given the easiest-to-educated kids because he was only in his second of third year. Smith also told me the story his principal had told him about the principal's encounter with the Jason's on their way out. They asked her loaded questions that were designed to get the response, "The young teacher is so great, so much better than the older teacher Smith... " She told Smith that she refused to take the bait, and clarifiied that the makeup of the classes was totally different, for the reasons described above,and it was unfair to compare them. Thus, she was left out of the article. There you have it? "The Anatomy of a Smear."

So why are we discussing Jason Felch today, in 2014? Seems that Jason is in a bit of ethical doo-doo.

In December of 2013, Jason Felch bylined a story about Occidental College and how it failed to report 27 sexual assaults from 2012. Occidental College refuted Felch's story and shared with the Times;
Some were not sexual assaults as defined by the Clery Act. Rather, they involved sexual harassment, inappropriate text messages or other conduct not covered by the act. Other alleged incidents were not reported because they occurred off-campus, beyond the boundaries that Occidental determined were covered by the act. Some occurred in 2011, and the college accounted for them that year.  
As the Times investigated the complaint it found out, through Felch himself, that he was shagging a source that he had been using in this story and others concerning Occidental College. This behavior is unethical and unbecoming a reporter and should bring into question other sources he has used for stories in the past as well as anything he has reported on as well. We here at SBSB call for the Los Angeles Times ombudsman to do a thorough investigation post haste. 

But Karma reared its head and this past Friday, March 14, 2014, Jason Felch was terminated by the Los Angeles Times. Times Editor Davan Maharaj said;
 "the inappropriate relationship with a source and the failure to disclose it earlier constituted "a professional lapse of the kind that no news organization can tolerate."
Good for the Times and GREAT for Jason Felch.

Yes, this is a Los Angeles centered story and those teachers in New York wonder, "Why should I be concerned?" We all should. If a reporter had an agenda, used questionable and unethical means to source a story in LA it can happen here. We already see reporters that we believe are biased, or at the very least start a story with an agenda. We know who they are, reporters such as XXXX XXXXX, and XXXX XXXXX, and XXXX XXXXX, and especially XXXX XXXXXX, and the entire crew at the New XXXX XXXX.

But let's not take our word or the Los Angeles Times word on the lack of ethics shown by Jason Felch. Let's ask him ourselves. I am sure he would like to hear from as many teachers as possible.


Anonymous said...

Patrick Walsh said...

Serves the vicious bastard right.

UrbanEd said...

This is THE BEST THING I've:
*ever seen you write
*have read this calendar year
*could have happened to a guy who wrecks the lives of hard working teachers.

Good news for everyone in LA

Pete Zucker said...

Thanks dude for kind words.

Anonymous said...

From the WRAP
Let's face it. Felch has done some really shoddy work here and didn't vet his own story before running it. Clearly his head was too focused on the extramarital that he was having. Yes, he did not continue to use the source for the subsequent articles but it clearly clouded his judgement. Felch's M.O. is to create semi-hysteria via public shaming (Boy scouts, VAM in education, Oxy)

You want to blame the editors at the LA times, which is financially strapped, while many editors were quitting or shuffling around. No. A Pulitzer Award - (Nominated) author should write better *stuff* than this. Try to tie Frammolino to all this, but honestly that guy has 2 REAL Pulitzers and as co-author with Jason he likely is the reason Jason was nominated in the first place.

I appreciate in these economic times that other young reporters rally around Felch, but not sure it is warranted or deserved. Sure, he was put in his place, and it seems vindictive on the part of Occidental, but his own lapse of judgement -- and frankly poor journalism -- put him in this position.

Unknown said...

Thank you for taking the time to write about a topic that doesn't follow the usual "if it bleeds it leads" model. We felt it was very unfair how Mr Felch use my brother along with all the teachers that were targeted to create attention for almost bankrupt l.a times. My opinion is they were desperate for a story and Mr Felch wanted the attention no matter what it would cost. We all know one thing for sure that time heals and time reveals. We know have some truths about Mr Felch one day we will have the truth of what happen to my brother. Once again thank you very much.