"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Union Leadership as Political Sleight of Hand

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is nearly stereotypical as a bully, so much so that if he weren't in a position of power, he would be a walking satire of himself.

When he yelled at a female teacher recently, reasonable people across the U.S. responded with disgust, as Jersey Jazzman did:
Some think this misogyny is part of Christie's "Jersey-style" charm. Let me tell you something: I was born in New Jersey. And I, like millions of other men from this state, was raised to never disrespect women in this way. This isn't being "frank" or "speaking your mind"- it's sexism, straight up
No one has to put up with this. No matter what happens tomorrow, it's time to stand up and say this crap is simply unacceptable.
So when American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten demands that Christie apologize, it is easy to raise a fist and cheer—until you consider the whole picture.

Weingarten is practicing the fine art of union leadership as political sleight of hand.

While she wags her genuinely indignant finger at Christie, drawing all cameras and eyes to that chastising, she is calmly extending her other hand, joining forces with the Common Core machine that is selling out teacher autonomy, feeding the textbook and testing industries, condemning the highest-needs students to test-prep hell, and generating a tremendous amount of financial and political profits for CC advocates.

In fact, real political courage seems to come mostly from teachers themselves, such as the teacher who put herself in Christie's way, Melissa Tomlinson, and Mike Archer, who states directly:
Today I urge AFT and NEA leaders to change course, back away from the standards and help expose their harmful characteristics.
It is, in fact, quite easy to call out a political bully like Christie—especially when you recognize that the fight is between two members of the same side, the ruling elite.

Teachers as great American workers need political courage from their leaders, not political sleight of hand.


  1. Do not forget that Randi Weingarten was getting merit pay in the current contract with the Newark teachers.



  2. Over the past few years, the NJEA has accomplished 2 major goals: 1) to act as a punching bag for our governor, and 2) more recently, to support CCSS implementation. I'm sure the NJEA's rationale behind #2 was to try to put to rest the meme that "teachers do not care about standards". But that decision clearly has not helped improve our standing in either the governor's nor the public's eyes. A little meaningful political courage would have been more helpful.

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