Joe Williams response
Here's Joe's email:
The other day, I emailed you about how exciting it is to watch the public discussions about education reform unfold in the wake of all the highly publicized hoopla of late.
But we here at DFER felt a need to call a foul with some of the admittedly isolated stuff that is starting to bubble up as part of that conversation. We're all for rigorous debate, but a recent rogue column on Huffington Post (and that is making the rounds elsewhere in the blogosphere) that compares AFT President Randi Weingarten to Osama bin Laden is so far over the top it begs for a quick beat-down.
The movie Waiting for 'SUPERMAN' clearly evokes a lot of strong emotions, but this kind of irresponsible comparison is totally uncalled for in public discourse.
I have known Randi Weingarten for many years, and I consider her a friend. But even if I didn't, we'd be emailing you with this plea right now.
Randi Weingarten is the last person you could possibly describe as hiding in a cave, plotting to destroy America. She has appeared on so many panels and television programs as part of the WFS roll-out – and she's taken quite a public beating in many of them – that 'cowardly terrorist' is the last phrase you'd use to describe her. (You'll notice that the NEA, which unlike the AFT has been totally absent from just about any real reform discussion in the last few years, hardly even appears in WFS. Surely because Randi granted access and the NEA didn't.)
Heck, when Manhattan's Ground Zero was still smoldering after bin Laden's attack on America, Randi moved her union headquarters a few blocks away, to help show that the neighborhood could be revived. She represented teachers who calmly led their children out of Lower Manhattan to safety on that awful September morning, etc., etc.
The comparison that is out there is beyond obnoxious.
Anyway, debate Randi Weingarten. Call her on it when you think she's wandering away from reality. She can take it better than just about anyone I know (and she knows how to dish it right back). But by all means respect that she's even been willing to enter what often becomes a tense debate. (And as far as bin Laden type comparison hysteria… cut the shit.)
Remember, this is supposed to be the time for education reform to shine. And the issues raised in the last few weeks in the mass media and in Davis Guggenheim's film are obviously important.
If you're serious about keeping this discussion going in your community over the course of the coming months and years, and you're serious about action, please sign on to the Done Waiting Coalition by clicking here.