July 8, 2009

A word to the wise on accountability

Dear fellow Americans who support equal education and are inclined to attack teachers unions when you get frustrated (e.g., Charles Barone and Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights):

  1. Borg-like rhetoric ("Those who resist the school reform movement are going to find they are on the wrong side of history. They may affect the pace of reform, but not its inexorable direction") is not likely to convince anyone that they're wrong and you're right. It's not even close to the level of Rod Paige's NEA = terrorist remark, but it's still intemperate. And I don't know about you, but the last degree I earned came with a beautiful, shiny rearview mirror, not a crystal ball.
  2. I'm persuadable that NEA staff and national leaders made some incredibly stupid/venal moves in trying to shift policy in the backrooms of power (which apparently are no longer smoke-filled), that the AFT may have made (fewer) such moves, and that locals and state affiliates of both national affiliates also make stupid/venal moves at varying rates depending on location and internal union politics. But a report that essentially treats policy concerns and backroom politics as identical? It strikes me as shoddy analysis, for several reasons. First, it's scattershot, which undermines the credibility of what probably would be stronger arguments on more narrow grounds. Second, it misunderstands the nature of organizations, assuming that unions have intentions rather than internal politics, agreed-upon positions, strategies, and tactics. Third, if you criticize both regular and backroom politics, you're implicitly committing yourself not to do much politicking on your own part.

Every few years you see a wavelet of attacks on teachers unions, and I am assuming that this is part of a new one. Sometimes it's just a coincidence, and I hope that's the case in the entries linked above... and here

Addendum: Charles Barone takes me to task on two items; in comments I say he's right on one and wrong on the other, but you'll have to read what he writes rather than my summary.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on July 8, 2009 2:20 PM |