As noted below in this morning’s post, today Twitter is alive with sounds of back and forth between journo Campbell Brown and AFT head Randi Weingarten. You can get a taste via this link and the handles of the two are below. A few random thoughts:
#1 On the substance, I think what may really have the teachers unions pissed off here is that in her op-ed Brown called out the ridiculous way arbitrators are selected. It’s one of education’s dirty secrets and it’s unlikely they want a lot of attention on that. Not much else in the op-ed is new.
#2 On the charge that Brown is compromised because of her husband, I did some poking around and it turns out that he, Dan Senor, is on the board of the New York chapter of Students First – the Michelle Rhee led organization. That hardly disqualifies Brown but should have been mentioned in the piece, in my view, it’s an easy disclosure and given the focus of the op-ed it seems relevant. On the initial charge that Brown should be disregarded because her husband works for Romney, that’s exactly the kind of intellectual McCarthyism that poisons education debates and should be treated as such.
#3 Overall I’m not sure though that this was a smart fight for Weingarten to pick. First of all, it’s not winnable, there is a problem with removing dangerous teachers from classrooms and anything less than absolute zero-tolerance for it won’t play well on main street – especially given recent events. And in this case, the famed “Feinberg reforms” that the AFT championed to address this amounted to little and even Feinberg distanced himself from the effort. Not sure why you’d want to call attention to that. What’s more, I don’t know Brown personally but do know plenty of media types who are quite fond of her so bottom line: Picking a fight with Miss Congeniality over sexual abuse of children might not be the most inspired public relations strategy.