NEW YORK – Seeing they have little voice in the process, parents have taken to organizing their own unions. Frustrated that teachers unions consistently look out for the adults, parents are organizing groups – “parent unions” – to look out for students’ interests.
But Michael Benjamin writes in the New York Post that unions are now setting out to co-opt those so as to limit meaningful reform.
While Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott were in Albany last week taking incoming fire from state legislators for missing the deadline to reach a deal on teacher evaluations, allies of the teachers union were in Washington opening yet another front in the war on the city’s school-closure policy.
The union-backed effort to thwart the closing of failing schools (which are largely staffed by teachers rated “unsatisfactory”) has long been active in Albany and in the local courts. The latest move involves filing federal civil-rights complaints alleging that the closings hit minority communities hardest — and no matter that previous such complaints were dismissed as unsubstantiated.
Leading the city contingent to Washington was “parent” activist Zakiyah Ansari, who’s become the leading face of the union’s job-protection drive.
Ansari represents two organizations — the Alliance for Quality Education (or AQE), where she is advocacy director, and New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, for whom she is a spokesperson. Her role becomes more clear when you learn that both outfits are teacher-union-backed groups posing as organizations speaking on behalf of parents. (Some of the money comes from the city United Federation of Teachers, some from its parent, the New York State United Teachers.)
A third group, Journey 4 Justice, organized and financed the DC trip. It’s yet another union-backed entity using black and brown faces to front the unions’ jobs-protection agenda.
In Washington, Chicago organizer Jitu Brown loudly claimed, “We are not Astroturf groups,” and “We are not people who are paid by private interests to appear.” Right.