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, December 8, 2014

Jazzman In @theprogressive This Month

Blogging has been a bit light these last couple of weeks. One reason is work/family/school; another is that I've been involved in a few extracurriculars. The follow-up to the NJ charter report, for example, will be out soon.

And another big piece was just released today: my first story for The Progressive, the venerable liberal (not pseudo-liberal) magazine. The December-January issue is a double-sized blockbuster focused entirely on public education. I am very proud to say I'm joined by, among others, Pedro Noguera, Tim Slekar, Jon Pelto, Michelle Gunderson, Yohuru Williams, and the always fresh and excellent Jennifer Berkshire, aka EduShyster.

I'm not sure if and when an electronic version of my piece will be available (some of the others are found here), but here's a taste of "Chris Christie, School Bully":
You would think a few years in office would have made Chris Christie’s skin thicken a bit; you would think a sitting governor who was already being talked up as a possible presidential candidate would show some restraint.

But it’s clear to many of us New Jerseyans, after years of observing Chris Christie, that the man craves these conflicts – especially with women. He once told the press they should “take a bat out” on State Senator Loretta Weinberg, a 73 year-old grandmother and one of the most respected figures in Trenton. He called another state senator, Valerie Huttle, a “jerk,” and former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver a liar.

This explains, in part, why he takes such glee in railing against teachers, a field where three-quarters of professionals are women. Last November, just before his reelection, Christie held a substantial lead over his opponent, Barbara Buono. The smart move would have been to keep his head down and coast to victory. But on the Saturday before the election, Christie was confronted by Melissa Tomlinson, a teacher and activist who brought a sign criticizing the governor to one of his rallies.

Tomlinson later recounted the details of their encounter to me:

I went to listen to him speak. I stood in the front of the crowd that was standing towards the back. I know he caught sight of me. He stared at me a few times during his speech. I left right as his speech was over to position myself right at the door of the bus. He came out, shaking everyone's hands as he was getting on the bus. I asked him my question, expecting him to ignore me but he suddenly turned and went off.

I asked him: "Why do you portray our schools as failure factories?" His reply: "Because they are!"  He said: "I am tired of you people. What do you want?"
That post remains the most-viewed piece I've ever written on this blog: almost 100,000 hits within 48 hours. I took that as a sign: after years of New Jersey teachers taking it on the chin, one of our own finally stood up to the bully and called him out. There are actually two heroes in this piece: Melissa, and Marie Corfield, who was one of the first New Jersey teachers to stand up to Christie. Their stories are the bookends for the tale of Chris Christie's War On Teachers.

I'd tell you to pick up a copy of The Progressive at your local bookstore, but those are as rare as video rental shops these days. Probably the best way to read it is to subscribe here. It's a great magazine and the magazine's companion site, Public School Shakedown, is required reading for all edunerds.

They've even released a cool video to celebrate the issue:

Blogging resumes this week -- because the reformy never stops...

Thanks to Ruth Conniff for the gig!

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