Friday, April 20, 2007

Mr. Paige Loves Ms. Weingarten

Ex-US Secretary of Education Rod Paige has a new book. Naturally, I can't wait to hear what he has to say. The book is entitled The War Against Hope: How Teachers' Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education.

Mr. Paige is widely known for presiding over the "Texas Miracle," which helped ex-Texas governor George W. Bush ascend to the presidency. Later, it was found that most of the miracle resulted from Mr. Paige having cooked the books to make dropouts magically disappear.

Mr. Paige's next great achievement was calling the NEA a terrorist organization. Sure, I too have often failed to see the distinction between mass murderers who blow up buildings and groups of people who teach our children.

Mr. Paige's last dance with President Bush occurred soon after he used federal funds to pay off journalists who promoted his programs. How does someone with such a history retain any influence whatsoever?

Still, Mr. Paige doesn't hate all union leaders.

The book actually praises the president of New York City's United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten. It says she is among those union leaders who "have exhibited the unique ability to achieve, or at least to strive to achieve, the proper balance between the interests of the public education system and the well-being of the union's members."

Mr. Paige perceives, correctly in my view, that Ms. Weingarten (who is not a socialist) is a new kind of union leader. Ms. Weingarten has no compunction about halving the prep time of her teachers. She has no problem punching holes in their seniority rights. Ms. Weingarten doesn't think twice about allowing NYC teachers to be suspended without pay based on unsubstantiated allegations. She doesn't hesitate to give back 20 years of hard-won gains, on a silver platter, in exchange for a compensation increase that fails to keep up with inflation.

And, of course, if she hadn't supported and enabled mayoral control, we wouldn't even be discussing the latest incarnation of Mayor Mike's reorganization. It appears after whatever tinkering she and Mr. Blomberg have done, senior teachers will be as unattractive as ever to prospective employers under the "open market" plan. Even after the changes they've made, principals have every incentive to hire only inexperienced teachers and hound them into quitting before five years pass. It appears Ms. Weingarten, once again, has opted for a quick fix while the city has demonstrated long-term vision.

Ms. Weingarten is a good friend of Mr. Paige and his ilk. The only problem is that leaves 80,000 teachers and 1.1 million children to fend for themselves. If you think Mr. Paige, or other guys who cook the books to dress up their results give a damn about teachers, parents, or the kids we serve, I have a bridge to sell you.

Thanks to Norm
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