by Patrick Walsh, Chapter Leader, PS/ MS 149, Harlem
For the second time in weeks the American public has been presented with an ad attacking The United Federation of Teachers, OUR union. The first attack appeared in a full page ad in the New York Times and, the second on nothing less than a billboard in Times Square. Both ads were created by the same ersatz organization — The Center For Union Facts which is, in fact, a public relations firm — and both traffic the same lies and distortions: that AFT president Randi Weingarten “protects bad teachers “ and “ opposes reforms that would improve our kids’ education.”
The “reform” alluded to in the ad is merit pay, perhaps the most discredited of all discredited “reform” notions as it has been tried, and it has failed in various parts of the country for over a century. There is plenty of data to back that up, and it is almost certain that the writers of the ad are aware of this fact: merit pay does not lead to improved educational outcomes (see this study from the RAND corporation for one example from New York, out of many nationally).
It is even more certain, unfortunately, that most citizens are not aware of the experiments in which merit pay has failed. And, after ten years or more of the most sustained attack on teachers in American history, citizens may likely view the idea of merit pay as reasonable and fair, and thus view and opposition to it as selfish if not venal. Who could blame them?
Given the river of teacher bashing that has taken over almost all forms of media, we cannot reasonably expect the general public to know or view the idea of merit pay any differently. And that’s the point.
The ad, that is, needs to be seen as another billionaire backed exercise in the dark arts of perception management. As such, the ad has nothing to do with either merit pay, or the person of Randi Weingarten (who, admittedly, many of us have serious problems with) or with the AFT. The ad is an attack on the existence of unionism in itself and all that comes with it: rights, solidarity, and a mechanisms that strive to provide justice.
There are moments in life in which we must set aside our differences to protect the institutions which, at the end of the day, are societies only real hopes of a decent and dignified life. This is one of them. We must all, in any way we can, reach out of our circles and educate as many people as we can to the truth behind this repugnant campaign.
To that end, I proposed the following resolution at the January 15, 2014 UFT Delegate Assembly:
WHEREAS the anti-union billionaire Rick Berman has erected a 5-story billboard attacking the AFT, be it
RESOLVED, that the UFT will mobilize its membership for a rally in Times Square to educate the public and defend our union and the dignity of our profession.
The resolution was voted down but seemed to garner a significant percentage of supporters as well as vocal support from President Mulgrew who asked me to speak with Leroy Barr at the end of the DA. Leroy has since contacted me and stated that the union is concentrating on spreading the truth about Berman via social media, sharing articles like this one from “Crooks and Liars.” and asked me to spread the word in doing the same. This I agreed to do but, sadly, they will not be supporting a protest to educate the general public.
These views are Mr. Walsh’s and may or may not represent the official position of the MORE caucus