After years of obstructing efforts to reform public education, the nation's teacher unions are using this week’s national education conference in Denver to push for a spirit of “collaboration” among education reformers and teacher unions.
It’s too bad that the unions’ new-found interest in “working together” has not been reflected in very recent teacher union behavior.
In a recent radio interview, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, “Let’s solve problems for kids rather than making them pawns in an economic austerity budget.”
In a recent press release, Weingarten said, “When collaboration trumps conflict, it helps create the conditions for teachers to teach and students to learn.”
Such happy talk makes for a good press release, but it does not match reality. Across the nation, teachers unions are attacking reformers and have not resisted the temptation of using children as political pawns.
• Last summer, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told union members, “When we join forces together with our parents, our students and our communities and fight smart – well, they haven’t seen a fight like this. Not in a long time.”
•Lewis ramped up the rhetoric at a rally last fall, telling union members, “I’m not wearing earrings because we’re in a fight, a real fight.”
•United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew attacked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, saying "It's apparent the mayor shares his definition of democracy with Hosni Mubarak."
•Mulgrew’s UFT continues to attack Bloomberg in a new television ad that pits school children against millionaires who need to pay “their fair share.” The ad concludes by saying, “This about protecting our kids’ future, Mayor Bloomberg.”
•This past weekend, members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council picketed outside the home of a state lawmaker who sponsored an education reform bill.