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

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hot Liberal-on-Liberal Action!

Jay Lassiter has a problem with the NJEA, which he writes about at Blue Jersey. I respond in kind. Then I repost here, giving my blog free material:

The NJEA Sucks (+)

by: Jay Lassiter

Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:55:34 AM EST

(Throw in New Jersey Education Association Executive Director Vincent Giordano for good measure)--Barbara Keshishian is an ineffective leader who is doing infinitely more damage to public school students and teachers by staying on the job than her poorly-evolved self-awareness gene allows her to acknowledge. So I'll say it for her.
I'm sick of defending her and I am sick of defending the lousy job she's doing (not) advocating for kids, teachers and taxpayers.
The NJEA is a bloated, outdated mess that spends way too much money making teachers look bad and tax payers feel like chumps. Barbara Keshishian and her Union represent a major obstacle to progress in this state and as long as Barbara Keshishian is at the helm, I'll be here to bitch about it.
The NJEA also has a bit of a history screwing progressives, especially where gay rights are concerned. Follow me below the fold for a taste of what I mean.
Jay Lassiter :: The NJEA Sucks
I'll give you two guesses which union was least helpful in the marriage equality fight. If you guessed the NJEA you're right!!Now guess which union was the fly in the ointment for the anti-bullying debate?
Now guess which NJ Union goes out of its way to spurn its natural allies because it doesn't want to come across as "ideological" or "progressive?"
If you guessed the NJEA you're (sadly) correct. So why would I stand with a self-serving organization which works so diligently AGAINST my values and my pocketbook?
Am I biased? Possibly bitter? Damn right I am. And I am guessing if your property tax bill was $18,000 a year you would be too.
Jay Lassiter a proud graduate of Great Mill High, a public school, in Southern Maryland.
My response:

*[new] It Doesn't Suck As Bad As Christie (0.00 / 0)
Jay, I'm an NJEA member. Let me address a few things here:- You say NJEA "spends way too much money," and link to a story about lobbying. As your link points out, most of NJEA's "lobbying" last year was in TV/radio ads countering the relentless attack on teachers - yes, teachers, NOT the NJEA. 
Christie's policies will not only take away job compensations like tenure, they DIRECTLY affect the paycheck of every teacher in NJ. Most of us will see a decrease of 15% or more in our paychecks. If that doesn't justify a public relations blitz, I don't know what does. 
- i have my problems with Keshishian, as I've documented on my blog (shameless plug: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com). But I don't see much here from you about her administrative or communications abilities on behalf of the teachers of this state. 
- I've heard others complain about NJEA's meddling into things like ME. I agree with you, but from the perspective of representing teachers: NJEA should be standing up for their GLBT members. 
- I disagree with NJEA if they are taking the stance of not supporting ME because of concerns about their conservative members. Having said that, I do understand their hesitation. I don't excuse it, but I do understand it: any time any advocacy group steps out of their area, they are going to make a calculation as to the benefits and detriments of taking that position.
Do we ask the Sierra Club to stand up on ME? The NAACP? NARAL? How much? 
- Even then, I contend a union is different. A union, by definition, advocates for its members. Again, I think that's the best argument for NJEA to support ME, but I think it's a mistake to demand unions always support all liberal causes. I certainly don't want any union to fight against reproductive rights, for example, but I don't expect them to alienate members who have religious convictions by imposing litmus tests on that issue either. 
- Which brings me to this: you say NJEA is "self-serving." Well, teachers can decide for themselves if the leadership is self-serving. But it is an organization comprised of teachers advocating for teachers; of course that's self-serving. 
And what's wrong with that? Why shouldn't teachers advocate for themselves? Doctors do; lawyers do; iron workers do. Why shouldn't a teachers union fight for teachers? 
- Finally: property taxes. Yes, your property taxes are high, but are you, a progressive, going to try to tell me that's because of the teachers union? 
Your property taxes are high because they are regressive. They're high because this state refuses to move to a progressive taxation system that would take more of the burden off of the middle class and move it to the wealthy, who have taken ALL of the economic gains this state has made over the last 30 years. 
If you look at our own revenues - not the taxes we pay to PA and NY, but the taxes we pay to ourselves - we are a modestly taxed state. 31st in the nation, according to CBPP, a good, progressive think tank. 
Your property taxes are not high because of high teacher salaries and benefits. The day progressives start believing that bull, it's over for us as a political movement.

Jay, if this past year teaches us anything, it's that we liberals are under what conservatives clearly see as their final assault. They mean to take us out, once and for all. Wisconsin is all about that: take down the unions, and the the right wins the money game while we lose our last, best source of shoe leather. 
I applaud you calling Keshishian to task for not supporting ME; you are well within your rights to do so. But you are playing with fire when you use conservative frameworks: "my property taxes are high because of you public sector unions!" You are feeding on the propaganda that is designed to crush the unions and destroy the entire progressive infrastructure.
Have a problem with Keshishian; hold your fire against the union.

Just rereading: the NJEA should support reproductive rights as part of advocating for its membership. But do I think it should oppose a Education Commissioner appointment only on the basis of the nominee being anti-choice?

No, I don't think so. But I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

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