Sunday, August 21, 2016

Steven Singer: Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform? | Common Dreams

Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community:

Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform?

Unions "are essential to the health of public education," writes Steven Singer. (Photo: Gadfly on the Wall Blog)

In the fight for public education, the forces of standardization and privatization are running scared.
They’ve faced more pushback in the last few years – especially in the last few months – than in a decade.
They want you to believe that the corporate vultures preying on our public schools are really just misunderstood philanthropists. 
So what’s a corporate education reformer to do?
Answer: Change the narrative.
They can’t control the facts, so instead they try to control the story being told about the facts.
It’s a classic propaganda technique. As Malcolm X put it:
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
Their story goes like this – yes, there is a battle going on over public education. But the two sides fighting aren’t who you think they are.

The fight for public schools isn’t between grassroots communities and well-funded AstroTurf organizations, they say. Despite the evidence of your eyes, the fight isn’t between charter school sycophants and standardized test companies, on the one hand, and parents, students and teachers on the other.
No. It’s actually between people who really care about children and those nasty, yucky unions.
It’s nonsense, of course. Pure spin. 
They want you to believe that the corporate vultures preying on our public schools are really just misunderstood philanthropists. And those demanding a fair shake for their own children and communities are really just paid shills from a monolithic and uncaring bureaucracy.
In essence, they want you to believe two things:
1) Despite profiting off the system and zero evidence supporting the efficacy of corporate school policies, they’re motivated purely by empathy.
2) Unions are evil by definition and they pervert everything they touch.
Put simply, unions are not perfect, but they are not evil. In fact, they are essential to the health of public education.
I’m not going to bother with the first claim here. There is an inherent bias from those who wish to change the laws so they can more easily profit off of schools without actually helping students learn and in fact exist at the expense of that learning. If you can’t see through the propaganda wing of the Walmart corporation, the Broad Foundation and Big Daddy Bill Gates, you probably won’t be very receptive to anything else I have to say.
Instead I will focus on the second claim, because it is the more pernicious of the two.
Put simply, unions are not perfect, but they are not evil. In fact, they are essential to the health of public education.
Many progressives are upset with teachers unions because of the current Presidential election. Both the National Education Association (NEA) and theAmerican Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary election without what many would consider adequately polling rank and file members. For better or worse, the endorsements were top-down affairs reflecting the preference of union leaders.
That’s not how unions are supposed to work. And it’s having consequences for the way both Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community:

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