Tuesday, August 24, 2010

UFT/AFT: Think Like Vichy

Where I pose the question: Is Diane Ravitch our De Gaulle?

I've been criticized from all sides for my comparison of the UFT/AFT leaders to French Vichy in WWII (make sure to click this link if you are unaware of the historical context before reading on.) Even some of the anti-Unity buddies say I am going too far. The union after all, they claim, is still ours no matter how distorted their policies and accusations of collaboration go too far.

I don't agree.

I've been intending to clarify my position - I am not comparing them to Nazi sympathizers - but to a way of thinking.

Peter Goodman, UFT/AFT shill who will justify any policy, has been leaving droppings on his own Ed in the Apple blog and on Gotham.

Goodman made this "I surrender" ("je me rends" in French) comment:
From Seattle to Boston, from Florida to Chicago, from LA to NY, educational policy is undergoing a sea change. It is supported by the President and the States, it is accountability, core standards, free market driven: testing, ratings/remuneration by student achievement, value-added, charter schools, etc. Diane Ravitch and other scholars strongly oppose, however, the electeds are supportive across the nation. If the Republicans sweep to victory these policies wouldn’t change, the fed dollars would stop flowing. Teacher unions can either vigorous oppose and isolate themselves, they are powerless to change these policies, or, attempt to cooperate and modify policies. It is easy to blame Weingarten or Mulgrew, the same policies exist in every state and every major city.
I really gag every time I read this, but here is my reasoned response, something I am not known for.

In France in WWII there was a choice. Oppose the Germans unequivocally or compromise - in Goodman's words  - "they could either vigorously oppose and isolate themselves, they are powerless to change these policies, or, attempt to cooperate and modify policies."

The French resistance chose the former, the Vichy government chose the latter. DeGaulle vs. Petain. After all Vichy reasoned, "The Germans were dominant." Vichy asked, "Do you want to be totally under their boot or have us there to modify their policies? We know they want to kill all the Jews but we can save at least some of them."

I am not calling anyone a Nazi sympathizer but I am using the most graphic example I can think of what I would call "The Vichy" mentality. A way of thinking that is so prevalent coming from the very forces that had the ability to put up a fight but instead think like Vichy.

Unions can fight for what is right for teachers and students and if done in a moral and democratic manner, they will not only not be isolated but will win people over to what is clearly right to so many educators and increasingly the public (see new leadership in Chicago). In fact it is the leadership of the AFT and UFT that is becoming isolated not only from its own membership but from the astute non teaching community.

It may look like the summer of 1940 in Europe to many. Maybe having Diane Ravitch (our De Gaulle?) not only join but help lead the resistance is akin to the US entering the war.

When Diane Ravitch and others break with your policy it is clear that it is you who are on the wrong side of history.

You can follow the thread here to see the comments go back and forth.


Cecilia Blewer said...

It's been a long time since the unions have summoned the power of the principled stand. Bread & butter unionism has led the entire labor movement astray. TIme was, the US labor movement stood for deep social justice and the fight against fascism, in addition to fair compensation. Labor used to represent all persons with progressive ideals, regardless of vocation. We need this progressive union voice now that we're reaching the end of the American Empire and a fundamental restructuring of our political economy is bound to take place.

Anonymous said...

You are correct as the UFT and AFT leadership is on the wrong side regarding many of the issues facing teachers and public schools. With the recent revelations regarding the fraudulent test scores the UFT in NYC should be changing their position vis-a-vis test scores being used to determine tenure and annual ratings. Instead, they are falling all over themselves for the BIG prize of 700 million in RTT bribes. How much is that compared to the NYC education budget? Real ass wipes these leaders. As for Weingarten she wants to continue her place at the table of the corporate elite. Never forget, she came from a legal environment which has always catered to the big and powerful. Now she is one of them and able to promote her agenda.

Benji said...

I want to applaud ICE and GEM's efforts in facilitating getting our city the Race to the Top money. I was disgusted that there was no mention of ICE or GEM and their work in any of the press conferences today. I hope ICE and GEM will continue to be involved with RttT, specifically in monitoring how the money will be distributed. Hopefully, directly to the classroom.

Anonymous said...

If Ravitch is DeGaulle, does that make you, Kaufman or Eterno Winston Churchill Norm? Please answer this one for sure.

And also is Karen Lewis FDR?

Seung said...

What do you mean by that? Is that supposed to be a racist comment?

Michel Fiorillo said...


Racist, perhaps, but certainly it's typical anonymous, cowardly Unity snark, which cannot argue substance and therefore uses snide comments.

ed notes online said...

All I can say is: I smoke cigars. Eterno and Kaufman don't.

As Churchill, I will fight the ed deformers on the beaches while the Unity slugs like you and Peter Goodman and MulGarten cower in your tower.

Philip Nobile said...

My favorite Vichy moment happened at last October's Delegates Assembly when Mulgrew opposed a resolution in favor of endorsing Bill Thompson for mayor. In a shocking surrender of conscience, he winked that the delegates could vote for Thompson in the privacy of the voting booth, but that the UFT would not support Thompson pubically. No Camus, this Mulgrew.