It's lengthy, to be sure, but this is a video worth watching. The gentleman to the right is Jonah Edelman, the co-founder of the educational "reform" non-profit organization called Stand for Children.
In the video, which was taken at the corporate-funded Aspen Institute's "Ideas Festival", Edelman lays out how his organization parachuted into Illinois, and cajoled the state legislature, and even statewide teachers unions, into backing legislation largely crafted by his organization that took an axe to the negotiating and bargaining rights of Illinois teachers.
Illinois teacher and union activist Fred Klonsky has been all over the story, and offered this observation:
It was fascinating to watch as Edelman frankly, proudly, described how his group, Stand For Children, outfoxed the CTU, IFT and the IEA into supporting Senate Bill 7. The bill, Edelman openly admits, was designed to fool the union leadership into giving up the right of Chicago teachers to strike.
The naked description of tactics by Edelman at the Aspen wonk-fest was stark enough that Edelman felt compelled to pen an apology, which was posted to Klonsky's blog. Here was a telling passage from that apology:
My shorthand explanation in the excerpt of what brought about the passage of Senate Bill 7 had a slant and tone that doesn’t reflect the more complex and reality of what went into this legislation, nor does it reflect my heart and point of view in several ways:
–It left children mostly out of the equation when helping children succeed is my mission in life, as I know it is yours,
–It was very unfair to colleagues leading Illinois teachers’ unions, and,
–It could cause viewers to wrongly conclude that I’m against unions (Note: I said later in the session – not in the “juicy part” — that I do not view teachers’ unions as the problem. If that were true, I said, schools in states whose unions are less powerful would be among the nation’s best rather than some of the nation’s lowest performing.)
Watch the video, and imagine how anyone would "wrongly conclude" that Edelman is against unions. Watch him boast of being able to cajole union reps, because he was amassing the political muscle necessary to ram anti-union legislation "down their throats." Hard to imagine anyone jumping to the wrong conclusions, based on rhetoric like that.
It also boggles the mind that Edelman would get tagged for anti-unionism based on the venue for his boastful presentation. Among the highlights of the Aspen Ideas Festival was a screening of that pro-union tour de force, "Waiting for Superman."
The truth be told, Edelman has no reason to apologize. His remarks were, to say the least, illuminating. Many in the "educational reform" community will spout all the proper platitudes about respecting the work of teaching. Many, like Michelle Rhee, will point to their own "time in the field" (which, among the reformist crowd, is often limited to sojourns of a few years in the classroom). But, when push comes to shove, they are almost always advocating for teachers having less control over their work environment. They love those teachers, as long as those teachers are not afforded any professional rights of consequence.
Edelman is apologizing because someone caught him saying it out loud, and brought it beyond the friendly confines of the Aspen Institute. He is apologizing because he knows how bad it looks. Like so many people thrust into circumstances like these, he is not apologizing for the agenda he has lobbied for. He apologized for the wrong people hearing him brag about it.
Those who have been warning America about the anti-teacher philosophy behind much of the "educational reform" movement owe him, oddly, a debt of gratitude.