Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nip It in the Bud

I got a very angry email about yesterday's post regarding the dual nature of part-time UFT President Randi Weingarten. And since Ms. Weingarten has finally decided to settle down to the serious business of leading America's teachers off the same plank we walked in 2005, it's worth considering.

Apparently everything is not black and white, I'm simplistic, and not capable of detecting nuance. You can, apparently, support the mayoral control that's degraded our profession and cast hundreds into the purgatory that is ATR, and still support the teachers. And the questionnaire about Tweed is indeed a sufficient response. There's no need to get all radical and oppose the absolute dictatorship that is mayoral control in New York City.

With these words in mind, I reflected back to a simpler time, a world that was (literally) black and white, to wit, The Andy Griffith Show (true devotees regard the color episodes with Howard Sprague as an abomination for the most part). Let's take the most innocent and naive character, Sherriff Barney Fife, and explore his elusive complexity.

Now Barney is a regular guy. Solutions don't pop into his head, so he often exacerbates situations rather than fixing them (much as part-time Ms. Weingarten did in 2005 when she negotiated the worst contract in our history for less than cost of living). Sure he's a boob, but he's got a girl, Thelma Lou, who he takes to the Italian restaurant, and lets her get meatballs with her spaghetti, even if it costs him an extra two bits. He's thoughtful.

On the other hand, what's the deal with Juanita, who he's always calling at the diner (much like Ms. Weingarten is always calling Mayor Mike)? You never see Juanita, but clearly old Barn's got something going on the side. What the heck sort of deal is that for a sworn protector of law, order, and the American Way? Well, anyway, he's a swell guy.

Still, I wouldn't want him as my sheriff. Or as my union leader, part-time or otherwise. Let's hope against hope her successor represents an improvement. If he does, I'll be the first to admit it.
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