In the NYT, Javier C. Hernandez examines embattled Paul Vallas in Connecticut, opening with:

Paul G. Vallas, a leader in the effort to shake up American education, has wrestled with unions in Chicago, taken on hurricane-ravaged schools in New Orleans and confronted a crumbling educational system in Haiti.

Now he faces what may be his most vexing challenge yet: Fending off a small but spirited crowd of advocates working to unseat him as superintendent of one of Connecticut’s lowest-performing and highest-poverty school districts.

“Leader,” “vexing,” “fending,” “spirited”? Not to worry, folks, the NYT doesn’t exactly strike out, but, at best, this column is a foul tip—nowhere near a solid single, or even a bunt.

The media, once again, falls into the trap of buying hook, line, and sinker the “savior reformer” bait cast by Vallas, Michelle Rhee, and Bill Gates.

You see, only a few brave souls dare to stand up against that pesky public education status quo, kept alive by those evil unions and greedy teachers.

And now poor Vallas is next in line to suffer the wrath of that status quo:

Mr. Vallas, who has moved to impose a standardized curriculum and to reorganize central offices in Bridgeport, said he was dismayed by the vitriol. On blogs, which he calls “electronic graffiti,” his critics have called him a racist and compared him to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The school district’s student population is 49 percent Hispanic and 39 percent black.

“There are some gigantic egos in this town,” Mr. Vallas said in an interview. “No good deed goes unpunished.”

“Gigantic egos”? [One must wonder is Vallas owns a mirror.] “Electronic graffitti”?

Not to worry, however, appointee Arne Duncan to the rescue!:

Arne Duncan, the federal education secretary, said the opposition to Mr. Vallas was “beyond ludicrous.” He said too many school districts were afraid of innovation, clinging to “archaic ideas.”

“This, to me, is just another painfully obvious, crystal-clear example of people caught in an old paradigm,” Mr. Duncan said in an interview. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”

The Duncan/Vallas allegiance is interesting because the two men have something in common—what they lack:

Mr. Vallas had a vulnerability: despite his decades of experience in schools and a master’s degree in political science, he lacked a degree in education, as required by Connecticut law. The state allowed for an exemption, but Mr. Vallas was required to complete a condensed version of the traditional 13-month certification program over the course of several months. “I didn’t view it cynically and I didn’t complain,” Mr. Vallas said.

Never-been-a-teacher appointee rushes to the aid of never-been-a-teacher appointee. Sounds like a great plot for a Lifetime Movie.

And that movie would have a heart-wrenching message about perseverance in the face of failure:

Mr. Vallas, 60, is a onetime politician who came within two percentage points of defeating Rod R. Blagojevich in a primary for the Illinois governor’s office in 2002. He said he did not know what he would do after Bridgeport, though he ruled out a return to politics. He runs an educational consulting business on the side. His clients have included schools in Illinois and Indiana.

That’s right. If you can’t be a politician, be a political appointee—and be sure to seek out education where the public funds are ripe for the picking (Vallas makes $234,000 a year, but that is small potatoes to the span of his “career” in education).