Like many of my friends, I have often worried that my American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is too moderate. But, I have participated in a variety of civil rights, children’s rights, Pro-Choice, and environmentalism coalitions. While I didn’t always agree with my local and national AFT office holders, I’ve never known more astute or more honorable leaders. I feel the same about the NEA.
That is why I was reassured when reading Teachers Unions to Spend More than Ever, by Education Week’s Lauren Camera. She explains how unions are investing $60 million dollars to roll back the GOP onslaught of 2010 that has damaged schools and communities.
We must remind all stakeholders that it is unions, not corporate powers, who have proven themselves as the real champions for social justice. If the billionaires defeat unions, who will stand for fair wages, health care, and equal rights?
I’m no longer a union member, so I’m out of the loop, but the strategy makes sense on several levels. Teachers need to beat back Vergara and its spawn. We should praise education beat reporters for their depth of knowledge and objectivity, while raising the consciousness of mainstream journalists and commentators are too willing to uncritically accept the corporate reform spin.
If Vergara was about real evidence-based policy, we would have won that fight months ago. However, teachers cannot allow reformers to paint our unions as protecting adult interests over families. We can't let them sell the slander that its about unions protecting bad teachers. We must defeat individual Vergara supporters like John Deasy and Marshall Turk, as we join Randi Weingarten in calling for collaborative efforts to improve schools.
As Jeff Bryant writes, it is entirely possible that education will save the Democrats this year. We also need to help elect a Democrat as president in 2016, while making it clear that we won’t accept another four to eight years of Arne Duncan-style, anti-teacher policies. Democrats must understand that if they place the Billionaires Boys Club over teachers and students, we will fight them with the same intensity as we are resisting the bubble-in accountability hawks.
In Union there is Strength. We must avoid divisiveness in both our shortterm and longterm battles for education and justice. – JT(@drjohnthompson)