We’re All Right-Wing Bastards Now
The NEA likes to paint its opponents (those who are fighting for what's best for kids, rather than adults) as "conservative and right-wing bastards" (to quote outgoing general counsel Bob Chanin in a speech from last year's annual convention), but as Larry Sand points out, liberals and left-wing bastards (of which I am a proud one) are also in the fight:
People of all political stripes—not just right-wing "bastards"—are starting to realize that the single biggest impediment to education reform is the NEA itself.
…Who are the "right-wing bastards" who support charter schools? Well, there's Los Angeles's liberal-leaning school board, which looked at its large number of failing schools and voted 6–1 to turn 200 of the lowest performers into charters. There's Steve Barr, a card-carrying Democrat who served in the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Michael Dukakis and who now operates 17 successful Green Dot charter schools in L.A. And don't forget Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee that supports charters and that says, in its statement of principles, that American public schools, "once viewed romantically as avenues of opportunity for all, have become captive to powerful, entrenched interests that too often put the demands of adults before the educational needs of children."
…Just two days before Chanin's speech, the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights released a report, National Teachers' Unions and the Struggle over School Reform, maintaining that the teachers' unions consistently blocked meaningful education reform and accusing the NEA of trying to end enforcement of the No Child Left Behind act. The unions "almost uniformly call for the spending of more money and the creation of more teaching positions which, of course, result in an increase in union membership, union income and union power," wrote one of the authors, David Kilpatrick. Perhaps the report's authors are the "right-wing bastards" Chanin was talking about? The problem is that Kilpatrick spent 12 years as a top union officer, while the study's other authors include former senators Bill Bradley and Birch Bayh, D.C. congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and civil rights leader Roger Wilkins—all liberals.
That Democratic leaders and poor African-Americans in Washington have found common cause with the Wall Street Journal and Fox News shows that school reform is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue. While Chanin champions the power of an entrenched union and belittles those who oppose it, people of goodwill across the political spectrum fight back for real education reform.
We're All Right-Wing Bastards Now
—that is, if the NEA's logic is to be believed.