What Teachers' Unions, the Pope and Osama Bin Laden Have in Common
A woman named Keli Goff, whom I've never heard of, posted an article about Waiting for Superman on The Huffington Post that is mostly spot-on, except for an awful, irresponsible, and inappropriate comparison of Randi Weingarten and Osama bin Laden. Joe Williams nails the response in his email below, but let me add this (as I've said many, many times before): Randi is hired and paid by her union's members to look out for THEIR interests. Nowhere in her job description does it say: "Act in the best interests of children." In fact, she has a FIDUCIARY DUTY to act in the best interests of her members – and she does a very good job of it. She's smart, clever, and among the most reform-oriented union leaders our there (not to damn her with faint praise…). I blast the unions with regularity, but that's because their actions warrant it and because they only respond to pressure. It's not personal – it's up to US to fight for children, so let's quit complaining about Randi doing her job!
There are very few certainties in Hollywood. But after seeing the new documentary Waiting for 'Superman' I am willing to state two for the record:
Number 1: Davis Guggenheim, the director and producer of An Inconvenient Truth will earn his second Oscar nomination for Best Documentary for Waiting for 'Superman'.
Number 2: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten is about to join Osama bin Laden on the list of Most Despised People in America. And if even one tenth of Guggenheim's film is to be believed, then this distinction is well earned and well deserved.
Even without seeing this film, anyone with half a brain knows that our country's education system is not working. But while most adults can agree that the system is failing too many of our kids, we have long been unable to come to an agreement on why. But Waiting for 'Superman' seems to settle the debate once and for all. Making it crystal clear just who and what is most at fault for depriving so many American kids of their rightful shot at the American Dream: It's not class sizes. It's not teachers but it is the union bosses who lead them.
As I watched American Federation of Teachers union president Randi Weingarten deflect question, after question about failing and at times abusive teachers (in the film and on MSNBCs recent education special), I found myself overcome by a feeling of deja vu. Her denial, sense of entitlement and talking points all felt awfully familiar. Then I realized why. It was as though she and Pope Benedict, head of the Catholic Church, are operating from the same playbook; a playbook that has hurt untold numbers of children while the adults entrusted to protect them shamelessly cover their own backsides. A playbook in which the primary play is this: Defend and protect the very worst in our profession at all costs, even if it costs all of us our reputation and the trust of the masses in the long run.
Well, mission accomplished.
Posted: September 28, 2010 02:27 PM