Jonah Edelman's Stand For Children has largely gotten away with a series of slip-ups and tactical mistakes over the past few months but the organization and its leader may not escape from this most recent incident entirely unscathed.
In an emailed apology Edelman confirmed to me is genuine he expresses regret for among other things "an arrogance in my tone" in remarks he made at the Aspen Ideas Festival a couple of weeks ago -- a video that I've had posted on my site since last week but others think was taken down from the Aspen site (unconfirmed).
Read on for more about the Edelman video, and the history of recent slipups of which this would seem to be just the most recent, the nagging questions about whether the Illinois law that Edelman has touted as transformational may instead be incremental, and the likely impact of the video and the unusual apology.
Does Edelman come off as wildly arrogant in the Aspen video? Yes. I posted video of the talk on my Chicago schools blog on Tuesday as everyone was coming back from the 4th of July weekend, which several readers noted was borderline offensive to teachers unions, etc.
Is the apology legit? Apparently so. Edelman responded that it was his. Here's one of several places that have posted the apology, in which he goes on at some length to explain his real meaning and the tone of the video.
Is this the first time Edelman and SFC have slipped up in recent months, in ways large and small? No. They pushed for quick passage of a reform package of changes in Illinois in December and January during the last moments of the previous legislature, which was roundly criticized for a sloppy and premature push (and its focus on a strike ban, which came out of nowhere). They called for a press conference to announce the groundbreaking results of the Illinois negotiations but the deal wasn't done and no one had told his legislative leader. Most of all, they have oversold the Illinois package as being transformative and groundbreaking -- which it doesn't seem to be in reality -- when its main appeal was that it was done collaboratively and passed unanimously. (I wrote a post raising some questions about the viability of implementing the law, and a DFER member wrote about similar concerns a few weeks later.)
Is the video some sort of fatal mistake for Edelman or SFC? Likely not. It would have been a major setback had the IL legislation still been in play. It will likely be used in other SFC states where reform has not yet passed. But supporters will continue to support Stand For Children, critics will continue to demonize the organization.
Cross-posted from TWIE