"Undercover Teacher" - George N. Allen - New York World Telegram & Sun



In this 16-part series, New York World-Telegram and Sun reporter George Allen reports on the two months he spent working as an English teacher at Brooklyn's John Marshall Junior High School in an effort to "report on a crime-ridden school from the inside." He was credentialed a few months earlier as part of the assignment and took three education courses to prepare at Columbia Teachers' College, where he earned a substitute teacher's license with a falsified employment history.


Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper

Effects and Outcomes

George N. Allen's series won a Heywood Broun Memorial Award for 1958 and an alumni award from Columbia University. It is the earliest known of a number of undercover looks at educational institutions for which reporters have posed as teachers, administrators, or students.
Reaction to Allen's series was "swift and outspoken" in his recollection for his book, Undercover Teacher. Time magazine covered the project twice, admiringly, and the judge presiding over a Kings County grand jury investigating crimes at the school offered lavish praise. Public response was overwhelmingly positive, according to Allen, but also included some scathing attacks on his method. Classroom teachers, he said, were nearly unanimously favorable. Allen testified for three days before the Brooklyn grand jury, effectively allowing him to put the articles into the judicial record. Detractors, especially the school's administrators, rebuked his effort as an invasion of the sanctity of the classroom. Ultimately, Allen's teaching license was revoked (because of the fictionalized job history). He was never indicted, nor was a resolution ever enacted to to condemn his actions for seriously violating the moral and ethical standards of the teaching profession.
His book about the experience, Undercover Teacher, was published in 1960.

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