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

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Good Intentions"

I'm going to be cranking the blog down a bit as I take care of some personal things before school starts and work on some other projects. But before I go...

One more thought on the motivations of everyone involved in this increasingly heated debate about education "reform":

We're coming up on the two year anniversary of Chris Christie telling us over and over again that the NJEA does not have the best interests of children at heart. I don't even have to provide links because it's been ubiquitous and undeniable; he clearly revels in it. I will only add that many times, he has veered off into attacking teachers themselves.

When B4K came on the scene, they immediately launched an ad campaign that featured both TV and radio ads that accused the NJEA of liking "the status quo - and [the NJEA] want you to settle for it."

But, according to Matt Yglesias, it's wrong to "create a generalized presumption that people who care about education have a hidden agenda." And, according the B4K, we shouldn't engage in "speculation about the motives of the folks who work for B4K" or, I assume, any of the other corporate "reform" shops. Or their financial backers.

So: we're not allowed to question the motives of the governor. We're not allowed to question the motives of the corporate "reformers" like DFER and B4K. We're not allowed to question the motives of their wealthy backers. We're not allowed to question the motives of the for-profits who stand to gain from increased standardized testing and charter school management. We're not allowed to question ANY of their motives...

But we must question the motives of a teachers union. Oh, and Diane Ravitch.


Might some of you understand why so many of us who actually work every day with the young people of this country are starting to feel more than a little put off? Might you understand why we're starting to get a little more angry and a little more pointed in our criticisms? Might you understand that we might feel that it's entirely within bounds to connect the dots for people if we are to be vilified, denigrated, and blamed for problems we didn't create?

Might you see why what we've learned over the past year or two about the connections between the upper echelons of government and business has made us cynical? Might you get that when we listen to the words of the "reformers" themselves, we become jaded and cold to their agenda? Might you feel our frustration when time and time again we are excluded from the debate, to be replaced by people who do not understand what we do or why we do it?

I'd like nothing more than to have a civil discussion about these things. I'd like nothing more than knowing that my democratically elected representatives in my union were represented in these policy discussions. I'd like nothing more than to reach an accord based on research and mutual respect. And I'd like nothing more - and I really do mean this - than to shut down this blog, which I haven't made a single damn dime off of, and get back to my piano.

I didn't start this. My union didn't start this. My colleagues didn't start this. Diane Ravitch and Bruce Baker and Leonie Haimson and Matt Damon and Jonathan Kozol and all the rest didn't start this. But we are compelled to speak now. And speak we will.

Talk soon. May the Merit Pay Fairy watch over you.

I waves my wand, and - *POOF* - everybody's learnin'!


Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Hi Jazz,
TN is crawling with our new crop of edu-managers, hearts exploding with good intentions.