Monday, July 30, 2012

Fear and Bloating in the Motor City

30,000 teachers descended on Detroit last weekend and I think I surprised a lot of people by being among them.  Why did I decide to go to a city without a single Michelin starred restaurant with these lazy public servants enjoying their luxurious Summer vacations?  Because I go where the story is.

I have a natural distrust of Randi Weingarten if for no other reason than the Weingarten Rights she won for union employees, but I soon found myself rooting for her in what seemed to be a battle between the New York union and the Chicago union.  One particular bill which the New York faction was behind suggested that perhaps excessive standardized testing wasn't the best idea.  Chicago wanted to go further and actually do something about it.  Fortunately, New York teachers are as good at pulling teeth as New York Dentists and the resolution was passed with a healthy set of gum and no choppers as of yet.

The speakers ran the gamut from sleep inducing to nausea inducing.  Dr. Wendel Anthony was my least favorite.  I was in the middle of a really nice sleep when he started speaking and he was just too loud for me to get back to slumber land. I think he was rapping to the Bee Gees or something.

Of course Diane Ravitch was there, making her usual excuses for the teachers.   If you haven't seen it yet, Michelle Rhee has a hysterical video of a fat guy as an Olympic athlete that talks about how the United States has slipped and we need to regain our status as the top education country in the world.   Ms. Ravitch naturally disputed this by pointing out that this wasn't true.  I hate the way she attempts to manipulate an audience using facts.  It doesn't matter if our schools are in crisis, what matters is what we're going to do about that crisis.  Diane again and again uses facts to stop people from seeing the crisis that we all know must exist in the public schools.
The great Joe Biden spoke at the convention as well.   Once again the  Chicago Teachers Union provided interesting theater.  Rather than calling for four more years for President Obama and Vice-President Biden, they fliered his speech with yellow papers that they held up during his speech that said Stop Race to the Top.  How disrespectful of a great American hero like Joe Biden.  Unfortunately, I had to leave early so I never did see who won the election to be head of the AFT for the next 2 years.  I'm really rooting for Randi, whose call for a solutions driven union reminds me very much of Neville Chamberlain's fine leadership of England in the years before World War II.  I think with Randi in charge, we will truly have peace in our time.

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