Correction: It was Fred K., not Mike K. Sorry.
Went to the Newseum today with the entire school, perhaps more on that later. You see, I’m teaching second grade at a DC charter school this summer. I’ve done so the last two summers, but fifth grade. I thought second grade would be a nice change of pace. Not yet.
Then I come home after a sweltering trip on a bus with roughly 50 kids in 100 degree heat to find out that I’m some kind of “coo coo bird” according to fellow public education advocate Fred Klonsky. Well, let me clarify. A group with which I’m affiliated issued a little challenge to the NEA, which you can find here. ; ;I’d say it’s a pretty strongly worded one. Mr. Klonsky seemed pretty vexed, especially with one line in particular. From his blog today:
If the NEA RA doesn’t take the stand that this group demands they will advocate for the eradication of my union with (bittersweet?) jubilation?
I hope they’re planning on coming with some troops. I don’t stand quietly when Scott Walker and Rahm Emanuel talk that talk. I certainly won’t be quiet if I run into these people.
These folks are crazy.
All right, I’ll say it: you know that bittersweet line above? I wrote it. Yes, I wrote “bittersweet jubilation.” So, this is your union, your union? Let me tell you and your union a little something.
The positions NEA has taken lately are about as courageous and extreme as, well, the band Extreme. You remember that really crappy bunch of long hairs from the early 90s that wrote this?
Yes, that Extreme. And that’s how extreme and edgy the NEA stands right now. If it were me standing shoulder to shoulder with the NEA, I’d want a little more of this: Black Flag.
Yes, dear reader, you see that right. That’s Henry Rollins. That’s not the NEA; they’re Extreme. Sure, I kid. And speaking of, I was busy teaching kids today, and the previous four days, and the next few weeks. Am I coo coo for doing that? Some say that I am.
Nevertheless, I’ve seen the conditions of this school and community for three years and I can’t help but feel in the deepest reaches of my heart that both the NEA and the AFT are negotiating with organizations and institutions that have made these conditions possible. These big unions, and I’ve never been a member of either in my 13 years in education, are more interested in preserving their own power and structure, preserving their own leadership, than they are taking some very strong stands against the forces that will the destruction of public education.
I admire those greatly who may have more experience than I in political gamesmanship, in community organizing, and the like. I also understand that teachers’ unions have done a great deal of good, which could be said of unions in general. That is, at least the original trade unions.
Then I hear all this talk about brining people together, negotiation, sitting at the table and all of that. Where has that gotten us? I’m sorry, but do privateers negotiate before they raid New Orleans, Philadelphia, and DC? Do the privateers negotiate before slapping on sweat bracelets? They don’t. So, why bother following protocols and votes and general assemblies or whatever the hell else is there to simply pose as democracy.
The national teachers’ unions, the NEA and AFT included are about as extreme as Extreme. It’s about time they were put on notice. Now, I live in Maryland. I’m teaching in DC. As it just so happens, I’ll be in DC next week for the NEA assembly since school is closed that day. Otherwise, I’d be happy to show you around my classroom. I’ll also be at the SOS convention in August. Hit me up if you’d like to chat; I’ve got a lot to say. You the reader should know that by now.