Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times has a featured article this morning analyzing the actions of national and local teacher unions in fighting testing, teacher evaluations, and the Common Core. Professor Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was quoted as stating:
“…the unions’ strategy on testing follows years in which they have been under assault, by conservative leaders and by the bipartisan education-reform movement that has painted unions as a central obstacle to improving schools…testing, Mr. Lichtenstein said, offers unions a way to join forces both with parents who object to testing and with Republicans who oppose the Common Core standards as a federalization of education.
“It is a powerful issue, by virtue of the fact that the right is also against it,” he said.
The article goes on to quote several teacher union leaders:
“Secky Fascione, director of organizing for the National Education Association, the largest nationwide teachers’ union, said reining in testing was the union’s top organizing priority. In the past month, Ms. Fascione said, chapters in 27 states have organized against testing, including holding rallies; petition drives; showings of “Standardized,” a documentary critical of testing; and sessions telling parents they have a right to keep their children from taking tests, as tens of thousands of parents around the country have done.
“Does it give us a platform?” said Karen E. Magee, the president of New York State United Teachers. “Absolutely.”
The Democratic Party, historically aligned with the teachers unions, should be careful with testing, teacher evaluation, and Common Core issues. It does not want the unions and the teachers against their candidates. In fact, given the closeness of elections in many states, it needs strong support from teachers and parent groups.