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New York Magazine Writer Thinks Ravitch Will “Make” Unions “Go Republican”

July 9, 2014

I just finished writing a post about American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten’s allegiance to the Democratic Party above all else, and what link do I open up next?

That of a New York Magazine article by Jonathan Chait, entitled, Teachers Unions Turn Against Democrats.

Now that’s funny.

Apparently Chait is upset that the two political parties are not engaging in “national political debate” over “the Obama administration’s educational reforms.” Chait believes that the Republicans don’t want to admit that the Democrats are winning the competition for more charter schools and “teacher accountability.”

Republican Jeb Bush is still selling charters–but he is doing so on behalf of Democraric-run New York. Hmm. Hard to score that one.

As for “teacher accountability,” the very-test-score-driven Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is urging USDOE to not bend when it comes to testing– and that in order to “effectively” use value-added modeling (VAM) to test teachers, more tests are better. However, Democratic Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy backed off of VAM– in favor of something arguably worse. But then, Republican Rick Scott signed VAM into law in Florida in 2011, and it still sticks. Who is winning: Democrats or Republicans? Another tough call.

I wonder who has been appointed official scorekeeper. Who will tease out the nuances of bipartisan support for so-called “education reform”?

Anyone will do just so long as the numbers tell the preferred story, eh?

Chait also believes that “the unions” don’t want to “force” members to “choose between the union’s agenda and Obama’s.”

I don’t think “the unions”– the national unions, that is– care too much about what membership thinks. Otherwise, they might have dumped the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by now.

But Chait isn’t finished just yet.

He is concerned about the “fraying” of the “Democratic coalition” since the national Education Association (NEA) drafted a resolution to ask for US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s resignation.

But Duncan is an easy target. After all, he has stated publicly that CCSS opposition is the result of  “white suburban moms” who realize that their kids “aren’t brilliant.” It’s a wonder that the “fray” did not begin sooner over that one.

Chait wants Race to the Top, with its goal for super teachers in every classroom, and (somehow managed despite all of the test-driven reform) the recruiting of “talent” to stay in teaching coupled with the clean, VAM-effected, surgical removal of only those “ineffective” teachers.

In addition to VAM love, Chait thinks the charter “win” is in the longer teaching day. He doesn’t mention charter school teacher burnout (and here, and also here, and here, as well).

Then Chait turns his attention to attacking education historian Diane Ravitch. Steeped in his own delusions, he thinks that Ravitch must be out of touch in her proclaiming that so-called “education reform” is an attempt to systematically destroy public education in favor of test-score- and market-driven reforms.

Well.  I have a well-documented, 500-page, 24-chapter book for Chait to read– every page of which supports that Ravitch is right.

Chait is concerned that the Democrats and Republicans are not “debating” education reform issues. Could it be that the nuances separating the two parties are too slight to merit any meaningful debate?

But Chait is clearly dissatisfied– and has found an outlet in blaming Ravitch.

It should come as no surprise that he supports the outcome of California’s Vergara trial. He sees it as a means of  “saving” the low-income children from “ineffective” teachers. Never mind the the overwhelming evidence that the Vergara trial was a staged event lacking a solid factual basis yet well-funded and designed for replication in other major cities.

And now, for a slice of common sense:

Poor students live in poor communities where schools tend to have fewer resources (including funding) and greater stress that makes its way into the classroom. This additional stress on the classroom contributes to teacher retention issues, and where teacher retention is problematic, teacher experience also suffers.

More affluent districts are under less fiscal stress; therefore, such districts are more attractive to teachers. Teachers are more likely to remain and to gain experience.

It isn’t that difficult to understand– unless one stands on one’s head logically and believes that “making” seasoned teachers stay in poorer districts will somehow resolve the economic issues faced by the school-within-community.

Back to Chait and his Ravitch rant:

Chait next takes issue with Ravitch’s “militance” as evidenced in the passage of NEA’s resolution to request Duncan’s removal– in year five that it was repeatedly proposed. Now there’s militant power.

And how about that speedy (and certainly Ravitch-forced) union denouncing of VAM? NEA has been turtle-slow to denounce VAM– even more so than AFT. (Weingarten denounced VAM in January 2014 but still enthusiastically supported Democratic Governor Malloy in June 2014, who supports a teacher evaluation system based upon student test scores and that is arguably worse than VAM. Chait ought to be pleased.)

Chait closes his mark-missing article by stating his belief that the unions will “go Republican”– and that this could affect Hillary Clinton’s expected 2016 presidential run– an issue that he (of course, of course) blames on Ravitch:

… The notion of an alliance between teachers unions and Republicans may sound preposterous, but it is Republicans who are leading the charge against Common Core teaching standards.

Ultimately, the union backlash is likely to be channeled into the 2016 Democratic primary. Of the various sources of liberal dismay that may be brought to bear upon Hillary Clinton — Warren-esque concern with inequality, unease with the Clinton’s hawkish record — the most focused and organized may well be the cause of the unions. “Supporters of public education must rally and stand together and elect a president in 2016 who supports public schools,” urges Ravitch. This argument will be heard in Iowa.

Given that Weingarten just admitted membership in the secretive Democracy Alliance– one very much in tune with financing Clinton allies— it seems comical to think that AFT will “align” with Republicans.

Maybe NEA will “go Republican.”

We’ll just have to wait and see if militant Ravitch gives the order.


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education


  1. I think you are absolutely right Mercedes. The reason there is no debate among the parties is that when it comes to education policy, there is little difference between them.

  2. Pro-public ed parent permalink

    Jonathan Chait’s love of education deform may have something to do with the fact that he is married to Robin Chait, who is an education-policy analyst at the very deformy Center for American Progress think tank. The Center for American Progress is very tightly aligned with the Obama Administration, including the Administration’s unending and data-defying support for charter schools and hatred of teachers.

  3. Chait now joins a bevy of NY Times oped authors who write about CCSS and other reforms as if their research ended at press releases by Michelle Rhee.

  4. There’s a much better chance that public school teachers and parents will form their own political party and leave both the GOP and the Democrats. There may only be 3.3 million public school teachers in the United States but there are tens of millions of parents in the U.S. and we aren’t even counting the grandparents, uncles and aunts.

    According to the Census, there are about 70 million famlies in the US and almost 50% have children under the age of 18.

    This means if teachers and parents decide to form their own poetical party through an alliance, they could easily end up with a minority of voters who today are probably mostly independent voters anyway. In 2013, nearly 40% of all voters in the US were not affiliated with any major political party.

    I think these are the people who are ready for sometime new, but it must be rational and not far out like the libertarians, tea party, neo-cons or neo-liberals.

    • ira shor permalink

      Merecedes neatly unmasks the tissue-thin logic of another de-former, thanks for being on Chait’s case. And Lloyd Lofthouse is on target for suggesting public sector advocates need a new party outside both major ones if we’re going to stop the massacre of public schools.

    • That is a very cool idea. We could team up with green party and appeal to independents who need a better choice Han the two we are stuck with. Mercedes should be appointed secretary of education. I am sure we would be safe from the privatizers that way. I guess if the tea party can attract who it does in droves we teachers can pull from the opposite side of that pool with some success. I think there are so many mature teachers out of work it could have the people necessary for such things.

  5. 2old2tch permalink

    This post should be published as a rebuttal but research based responses do not seem to draw anything but attacks. Your research is so tight that perhaps you would fare better.

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