Sunday, April 29, 2007

Apathy Rules

In Mr. Bloomberg's New York, many parents are so disheartened that they don't even bother running for his school parent council. At candidates' forums, many of those actually running don't even trouble themselves to show up. It's remarkable that this mayor has been able to alienate so many genuine stakeholders in city schools.

But really, what are parents to do? The last major challenge to the mayor, the May 9th rally, was unilaterally canceled by UFT President Randi Weingarten and her rubber stamp executive board, which was itself selected by fewer than 20% of working teachers ("Why bother?" reasoned the rest). Several parent groups, in fact, seem to have backed Ms. Weingarten in her continuing commitment to let this mayor do whatever the hell he likes.

This accomplishes two major objectives: Mr. Bloomberg can continue his wildly ostentatious pretense of meaningful reform, and Ms. Weingarten can continue to position herself as a political "moderate" with whom even conservatives can feel comfortable. You won't see Ms. Weingarten making inconvenient demands on behalf of those she supposedly represents, and no one can call her a socialist. Perhaps if Hillary makes it, she'll be comfortable enough to name Ms. Weingarten US Secretary of Education.

For substantive reform, parents are going to have to stand up and demand what works--good teachers, smaller classes, and decent facilities for their kids. There is no substitute.

Ms. Weingarten, in front of God and everybody, endorsed a plan that does nothing but hurt teachers, a plan which blatantly encourages principals to look at price tags rather than quality. It's her primary job, supposedly, to protect teachers. If she's unwilling to do even that, it's highly doubtful she gives a damn about parents.
blog comments powered by Disqus