written by bendygirl at Monday, August 25, 2008
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Rhee and Fenty are anti-union…
oday, she and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty appeared with NYC Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer and the Rev. Al Sharpton for panel discussions on education reform. The panel discussions were heavy on "special interest" bashing (i.e. the teachers' union, special education lawyers and so on), and the panelists mostly hailed each other for being tough, reform-minded mold breakers.
But Rhee woke up the room when she railed on the "media" for wrecking her collective bargaining agreement with the Washington Teachers' Union. She has offered the union a new merit pay contract that would allow teachers to opt into a plan that could pay them a lot more money if they relinquish their seniority rights. The contract has been extraordinarily controversial with some teachers supporting it, but others angrily denouncing the plan.
Panel moderator Jonathan Alter, a Newsweek columnist, asked Rhee where the negotiations stood.
"We have not rolled out a tenative agreement yet. We were very close to doing so and then the media got in our way a little bit. That caused us some problems," Rhee responded.
Alter looked surprised. "What do you mean by that?" he followed up.
"Well, I do think it's a signficant problem for us," Rhee said firmly. "The media reported incorrect information about the contract and what that did was just raise all these alarm bells among the rank and file who started to put a tremendous amount of pressure on the teachers' union president; when he was ready to roll it out, he took a step back. So it's been a hard road over the last few weeks."
I can’t seem to find any unions represented at this forum, despite the work that the President of the AFT had done to reform NY schools. Wonder if Randi Weingarten or any of the teachers’ unions were invited, at all. I’m thinking, they weren’t. I’d expect to see an anti-union event like this at the Republican convention, but certainly not at a DNC convention, and not attended by so many Democrats.
So, anyone there; can you tell me, were there any unions invited; did any show up for the panel; anyone in the audience? I’m dying to know.