Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tom Vander Ark, Keen Observer of Bizarro World

This is one of the most nonsensical things I've read in a while:

Who owns Washington? In Washington State the answer is clear--the Washington Education Association. They dragged their feet in hundreds of districts and called strikes in a couple districts last night just to screw up the first day of school.
Riiiiiiiiiiiight. In an environment where the WEA is at open odds with Democratic legislators, where levy equalization and class size reduction money was cut out of the budget, and where HB2261 passed into law despite a full-court press from the WEA, you're going to try to sell the line that the WEA runs Washington?

Denying reality doesn't change reality, and anyone who is still trying to portray the WEA as an all-powerful, omnipotent entity is certainly out of touch with reality.

In Kent, a Seattle suburb, the WEA welcomed a great new superintendent, Dr. Vargas, to town with a strike. Kent is a well run district where the previous superintendent served with distinction for a decade. Unfortunately, Vargas is receiving familiar treatment; it happened on my first day as superintendent 15 years ago. My kids asked me why they weren't going to school and why there were people with signs in our driveway.
Why yes, Kent is so well run that they trail in almost every metric, and now the KSD's half-assed negotiations strategy has forced a strike.

Even though strikes by public employees are illegal, the WEA picks a few districts in key media markets and runs strikes every year just to remind local and state officials who's really in charge. The Kent strike is supposedly because teachers don't want to meet with their principal more than once a week; they're trying to spin this as 'more time with the children'--please. They also mention class size, but that's a red herring in a state with equalized funding and big budget deficits. This isn't about issues; it's about power.
The WEA can't make a district go out on strike.

The WEA can't make a district go out on strike.

The WEA can't make a district go out on strike.

I made similar comments last year during the Bellevue teacher strike--anyone who thinks that it's an easy thing to get 85% of the membership to say that they're going to stop doing their jobs and walk a picket line is so blindingly ignorant about how unions work that their opinions are irrelevant, even if couched in the language of the "education expert".

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