We titled it "Albert Shanker: Ruthless Neocon." (Get the pdf on the ICE web site.)
We tried to cover a lot of ground in our review of 40 years of UFT history. We tied the role Shanker played in the alliances with business starting in the early 80's with the catastrophe that has befallen public ed based on so much of where Shanker really stood. While some people think Randi Weingarten shifted the union in another direction, in fact she has only continued the policies set by Shanker.
We also dealt with Shanker's sell-out in 1975, a precursor to what is to befall schools in today's crisis - listen to Randi's words carefully and you will get the picture. Then there was Shanker's role in undermining teacher unions around the world based on his anti-left ideology.
Michael Hirsch, on the editorial board of New Politics, has responded. Hirsch is a reporter for the NY Teacher and employed by the UFT. Think he has a dog in the race? He does fess up in his comments that Randi Weingarten is his boss while at the same time claiming he is not responding because of that.
Interesting that at the end of his response, he is identified this way:
MICHAEL HIRSCH is a New York-based labor journalist and is a member of the editorial boards on New Politics and Democratic Left.
Not exactly truth in advertising. In Hirsch's first draft he ended with a mild criticism of Shanker, which in a follow-up he removed. Call that being careful. Very careful.
We were given half the number of words (800) that Hirsch used in our response. Thus, we were severely constrained in responding to his red-baiting and attacks on us as members of ICE where he tries to marginalize as the lunatic fringe by distorting the election results.
This comment is particularly revealing:
"But surely the point of view of habitual dissidents whose union caucus garnered just 7 percent of the vote in the last presidential election, and who remain a null factor in union politics is itself a telling critique. These were the wrong reviewers to take on Kahlenberg."
For a null factor, Weingarten and Unity spend a hell of a lot of time addressing our nullness, something Hirsch who is present at DAs and Ex Bd meetings has known full well. This goes beyond distortion into the realm of outright lies.
Hirsch also confuses the ICE position with that of TJC when he talks about strikes. As a matter of fact he seems to completely confuse the positions of ICE and TJC.
He totally misrepresents the '68 strike. And to disclaim any responsibility for the leadup to NCLB on the part of Shanker by saying he died years before the law was passed is to ignore the entire last third of Kahlenberg's book.
And for a supposed socialist, Hirsch spends a lot of time red-baiting. The very first words of his commentary? Leon Trotsky. And he makes sure to throw in Rosa Luxembourg and Lenin for good measure. Doesn't Hirsch know I'm still (barely) a capitalist?
Both responses are posted at the New Politics web site. It is worth checking out. http://www.newpol.org/. The hard copy will be out in a few weeks. I'm now a subscriber and it is a pretty serious looking journal. I'm looking forward to reading Jack Gerson's,"Where Will Obama Go?" (Jack was briefly with Coalition of NYC School Workers, a precursor of iCE, in the early 70's before he went on to bigger things. Just about every left wing teacher teacher in NYC passed through our group back then.)
I posted Hirsch's piece on Norms Notes for ease of access.
Great response to Hirsch review.
In addition to all you've come back with in the limited space, and particularly that line you
quote below where he talks about ICE: "But surely the point of view of habitual dissidents whose union caucus garnered just 7 percent of the vote in the last presidential election, and who remain a null factor in union politics is itself a telling critique" —
Hirsch makes it seem that ICE has been around for as long as Unity has, being composed all these many decades of "habitual dissidents" who could in all this time only garner 7% of the vote. So on top of the election analysis you laid out in the response, it's also important to note that ICE is a fairly recent development in the history of this union. It's a caucus with no money, no headquarters, no access to new members, no computers connected to DoE statistics, restricted speaking time at union meetings, and in general very few ways to do any garnering at all. That it has been able to take on the Unity machine at all these past six years — and have people like Weingarten, Casey and even Hirsch take so much note — is a result of its dogged commitment to teachers and kids and a keen eye for the abuses of imperial unionism.
I think its a measure of how strong your critique was that he doesn't even attempt to defend the book.