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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cokie's Law and Education Reforminess

Randi Weingarten does a nice job taking down Won't Back Down, the reformy, fictional film that ignorant pundits are already using to push an anti-union agenda. I particularly liked what Weingarten has to say here:
The film features the union leader sharing a quote that anti-public education ideologues and right-wing politicians often attribute to former AFT president Albert Shanker: “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.” Despite the frequency with which corporate interests claim Shanker said this, a review of news reports, speeches, and interviews with Shanker’s aides and biographers, and even an analysis by the Washington Post, failed to find any person or report that could corroborate the statement. [emphasis mine]
Digby calls this "Cokie's Law," named after uber-Washington insider and moral scold Cokie Roberts. See, kids, some time in the 1990's, this country's punditocracy lost its freaking mind and became obsessed with stains on blue dresses and inappropriate uses of cigars. As part of the madness, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton was pilloried for allegedly saying something about her husband's psyche that she never actually said.

Roberts, supposedly a journalist, made an interesting point that most of the Beltway elite seemed to agree with: it didn't really matter what Clinton had said; all that mattered was that it was "out there."
"At this point," said Roberts, "it doesn't much matter whether she said it or not because it's become part of the culture. I was at the beauty parlor yesterday and this was all anyone was talking about."
Cokie's Law is being used to great effect within refomy circles these days. Recall that NJDOE Commissioner Chris Cerf claimed Shanker supported charter school expansion; too bad his widow disagrees with that claim.

Michelle Rhee said the research shows that drill-and-kill doesn't lead to higher test scores, so we don't have to worry that high-stakes testing will narrow the curriculum. Too bad the research she cites says no such thing.

And we had Chris Christie's whine that union officials were putting out a call for members to pray for his death; that, of course, never happened.

But it doesn't matter. It feels right to believe these things; that's why they're "part of the culture." Don't worry whether they're actually true; they're truthy.

And isn't that all that matters?

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