Monday, March 23, 2009

Target Practice

I've been following education news for years now. I'm consistently amazed at how teachers are such a convenient scapegoat. The same people who make sure city kids are taught in oversized classes in trailers and bathrooms and hallways are all over the press, crying about the terrible things teachers are doing. It's an easy sell, too, if you don't look at the whole picture, which not even the President bothers to do.

If AIG weren't so prominently in the news, maybe we'd be the ones ducking the press. One difference, of course, is AIG's leadership at least issues instructions to survive angry mobs. Here in the city, part-time UFT President Randi Weingarten can't wait to get on the anti-labor bandwagon, saying everything but vouchers is on the table. Oddly, she says that in the context of DC schools, where there's already a voucher program. So what is sacrosanct?

Meanwhile, Ms. Weingarten couldn't wait to bring Green Dot to NYC, with its phony union that offers neither tenure nor seniority rights, and its "just cause" provision that, for all I can tell, has never been tested, let alone protected a teacher job. Still, its hapless teachers pay dues, as will their replacements, so honestly, who cares? Plus, the embrace of charters makes Ms. Weingarten a "reformer."

The news media is awash with coverage of charter schools, which cover a very small percentage of real live kids. Protecting or improving public schools is beside the point, and not even Ms. Weingarten, who moonlights as part-time AFT Prez, will stand up and state the obvious.

It's pathetic that the United States, particularly at this point, can persist in the outrageous fiction that unionized working people are responsible for our decline. But if you want an alternate point of view, you'll have to look to those of us dodging the slings and arrows.

You know where to find us. The truth is, though, most people don't.
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