Teachers Union Honesty

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Here’s a nice WSJ article about teachers union tactics, or antics? The best tidbits are italicized.

An internal [AFT] document explains how to undermine school reform. Never put on the Internet anything you wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper, right? Tell that to the American Federation of Teachers, which recently posted online an internal document bragging about how it successfully undermines parental power in education.

This document concerns “parent trigger,” an ambitious reform idea we’ve reported on several times. Invented and passed into law in California in early 2010, parent trigger empowers parents to use petition drives to force reform at failing public schools. Under California law, a 51% majority of parents can shake up a failing school’s administration or invite a charter operator to take it over.

California’s innovation caught on quickly—and that’s where the AFT’s PowerPoint presentation comes in. Prepared (off the record) for AFT activists at the union’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. last month, it explains how AFT lobbying undermined an effort to bring parent trigger to Connecticut last year. Called “How Connecticut Diffused [sic] The Parent Trigger,” it’s an illuminating look into union cynicism and power.

Facing the public call for parent trigger—mainly from minority groups like the State of Black CT Alliance—the AFT’s “Plan A” was “Kill Mode.” That failed. So it was on to “Plan B: Engage the Opposition.”

But only some of the opposition, it turns out: “Not at the table,” notes the AFT document, were “parent groups” who supported the reform. Engagement meant pressuring legislators vulnerable to union muscle. That’s most of them—and the AFT’s muscle worked.

The result was a reform in name only. Out were simple parent petition drives, in were complex “school governance councils” of parents, teachers and community leaders. Most significantly, as the AFT’s PowerPoint brags, the councils’ “name is a misnomer: they are advisory and do not have true governing authority.”

Called about the PowerPoint presentation, the spokesman for Connecticut’s AFT said he knew nothing of it so couldn’t comment. Perhaps it was comment enough when the AFT took the file off its website Tuesday night. Good thing blogger RiShawn Biddle, who first discovered it, made a copy.

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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