I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How To Talk Like a Reformer

I had promised myself that I was done with Laura Waters and her increasingly insipid blog; however, this post is so typical of the shallow and lazy thinking of the corporate reformers that I have to point it out.

Laura has not only signed on to the whole Cerf-Christie-Rhee-Gates-Broad-whomever agenda; she's absorbed the language of their propaganda so completely into her muscles that it now spasms out of her like a reflex:
NJEA President Barbara Keshishian has a piece in the Star-Ledger today lambasting the Jersey paper for a general lack of support and for “ridicul[ing] NJEA’s spending $6.6 million on advertising that challenged Christie’s priorities and misinformation.” (Apparently the union’s lapdog, Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun, doesn’t compensate for negative coverage.) [emphasis mine]
I guess Braun is a lapdog because he dares the Christie administration to back up its claims about charter schools.  Or because he dares to point out the clear 1st Amendment violations inherent in Christie's voucher - oh, sorry, scholarship - program.

The fact is Braun is one of the very few journalists in the nation who is asking hard questions of the corporate reformers. But, for 40 years or so, conservatives have been able to dismiss any reporting in the press that runs counter to their agendas with three words: "liberal media bias." Laura has learned that trick well.

She continues:
In a related story, the head of the police union in Camden, John Williamson, told a Courier-Post reporter that Christie’s attack on public unions makes the Governor akin to a genocidal maniac, specifically Adolph Hitler:

Williamson did not say it directly, but quoted a historical figure to imply the countywide plan is part of a larger plot to dismantle public employee unions in New Jersey.

"We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers' salaries and take away their right to strike,'" he read aloud.
Really? “Overall rightwing extremist strategy?” Hitler? So one supposes that in this scenario Assemblyman Alex DeCroce is, say, Rudolph Hoess and the Senate Republicans are the Gestapo. I guess Mary Pat is Eva Braun. Oh, wait: non-extremists and others who don’t count themselves Third Reich aficionados also support limits on collective bargaining and changes in unsustainable pension and health care benefits.

Offensive? Totally. Stupid strategy? That too.
Someone get Miss Laura the smelling salts - she's got the vapors!

One head of one local of one union says something impolitic, and we get to tar the entire public union movement. This is right out of the Christie play book: he is still whining about a bad joke an obscure labor leader told about him. And, of course, it gets her out of having to address the real point: the corporate reform movement is really about reducing teachers' workplace rights, salaries, and benefits.

Keshishian (whom, to her credit, does not quote from Hitler) then goes on to demand that Fuhrer Christie...
See how that works? Conflate Keshishian with Williamson's words, even while Laura insulates herself from being accused of a direct comparison. Why else would Laura use "Fuhrer" in the same sentence as Keshishian? Very slick Laura: you've learned your lessons well.
...sign a piece of legislation (S1940/A2773) which would require school districts that negotiate lower salary increases or benefits concessions to use the savings to hire back teachers who might have been laid off. So let’s say a district decides that student educational needs can be met more efficiently through purchases of technology or other instructional materials or programs and, therefore, lays off some teachers. That district also manages to win some concessions through collective bargaining. According to S1940, that district would be required to shelve the innovations and hire back teachers instead. (Question: do any concessions mandated by the State also require districts to hire back teachers?)
The "Rosetta Stone" defense. This is, of course, exactly what the Rupert Murdochs of the world want: why else did he buy Wireless Generation if not to reap the rewards of trading teachers for software?

Any local would have been crazy to let their school board get away with this sham. The implicit agreement on any wage freeze is that jobs should be saved; why take the freeze if that wasn't the case?

But Laura really parrots the corporate reform agenda in what she doesn't explicitly say but merely assumes: layoffs are inevitable. As I and others have documented over and over, income inequity, regressive taxation, lax governmental oversight of the financial industry, and runaway health care costs due to corporatization are responsible for our current fiscal mess. Laura simply feeds into the plutocrats propaganda when she refuses to challenge the need for cuts in the teaching force.

 Keshishian closes indignantly,
NJEA and its members are not going to be demonized, demoralized or unfairly criticized by a governor who is carrying out a national attack strategy on public sector unions, and whose stated goal is the privatization of public education. 
Hey – at least Christie didn’t call you Hitler.

And Keshishian didn't call Christie Hitler either; again, nice rhetorical trick (auditioning for Fox News?).

But Christie did compare teachers to drug dealers. He did say there was "greed and excess" in the public schools - not in the union, in the schools. He said teachers who stood against his agenda were in a "me first" rally, and that his attacks on teachers, "Just shine a bright light on greed and self-interest." And he patronized teachers who don't understand his attacks on them as,"they might not have a full understanding of how tough these fights are now."

Where was your righteous indignation then, Laura? I guess it was subsumed by the corporate twaddle you continue to serve up.

ADDING: from Laura's comments:
in-this-guise said...

How do you function effectively on a school board when you have such contempt for teachers?

NJ Left Behind said...

I admire teachers enormously. I have contempt for the union leadershi
Right from the Christie playbook, word-for-word. Lazy and callow parroting of Laura's hero: how sad.

By the way Laura: do you feel such condescension toward teachers that you don't think they're capable of choosing their own union leadership?

Hmmm... what precedent do we have in our society that leads to such condescension? In a profession that has so many people who are...well... women?


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