The NYT's Matt Bai describes how NJ governor Chris Christie (pictured) has turned public employee unions into a convenient scapegoat: "Ronald Reagan had his 'welfare queens,' Rudy Giuliana had his criminals and 'squeegee men,' and now Chris Christie has his sprawling and powerful public-sector unions." Union historian Rick Kahlenberg has taken to the pages of the Washington Post to lay blame for union-bashing squarely at the feet of so-called school reformers: "In a profound sense, Democrats like Michelle Rhee have paved the way for Scott Walker." At roughly the same time, Rhee biographer Richard Whitmire appears on EdWeek to denounce Rhee critics as lefty birthers threatened at a level that is visceral and somewhat deraged: "The birther-like rhetoric is... not likely to abate unless Rhee and her organization make no headway and therefore present no threat." What to make of all of this? Click below or forget all that and head straight to comments.
Whitmire needs to get some smidgen of distance between himself and the Rhee PR machine. Kahlenberg might have overstated the case just a little bit though there is a clear line between most reformers and anti-unionism. Debate-wise, we're getting closer and closer to Godwin's Law -- I'm not sure I can stand the anticipation of waiting to see whether Ravitch or Rhee allies there first. Meanwhile, union leaders obviously to get out of their bunkers and make some contributions to the debate (even if they run the risk of getting unseated in the next election). Reformers need to figure out how to keep up the pressure without becoming co-opted by political interests who probably don't share their passion for educating poor kids. (Their current obsession with last in first out makes no sense to me, politically or substantively.) From TWIE.
Filed under: Uncategorized