Excerpt from Class Warfare
There's so much great stuff in the book that I'll be including excerpts in many future emails. Here's one of my favorites, describing how Joel Klein discovered the true nature of the unions (emphasis added):
Klein spent a lot of time consulting with Alan Bersin, who was
running the San Diego schools. Klein knew Bersin from his Justice
Department days because Bersin had been the United States attorney
in San Diego before taking the schools job. Like Klein, Bersin
is a New Yorker from an outer borough (Brooklyn), an Ivy League
lawyer (Yale), and former Supreme Court clerk who had had no
background in education.
Bersin had done his own tour of the literature before taking the
job and had found, he told Klein, that "while you could play along
the edges with structural changes, the core business of education
is teaching." However, the people who run school systems, Bersin
had concluded, "would rather concentrate on rearranging the deck
chairs, because trying to touch teaching was the third rail. . . . Everyone
in the system, especially teachers, will fight you. They'll tell
you it isn't their fault—that it's all about poverty and demographics.
They will attack you and try to get rid of you.
"It didn't even take me ninety days," Bersin told Klein, "before I
went from being a Democrat who always thought the unions were
the good guys to realizing that unions were not the good guys—that
the Democratic Party and the school reform movement had run into
a rock because of the transformation of the teachers' union
movement from the '60s to the '90s from a progressive force to the
most conservative force in the mix."
Bersin—who would ultimately be forced out of San Diego in 2005
when the teachers' union successfully backed new candidates to take
over the school board—told Klein that he needed to pick his fights
carefully and one at a time….