Monday, August 29, 2011

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….

 Subscribe in a reader