Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Follow the Money

The other day, my wife got a mailing from Education Reform Now - a group formerly pretty focused on lifting New York's charter cap. Essentially (and unsurprisingly for someone who's seen ERN's previous work), the full color flyer was a hit on the UFT. On the front was a picture of a third grade parent saying something to the effect of, "I used to think that the union was on our side. But now they're working to protect the teachers who have been their longest, not the best teachers." (Unfortunately, my wife threw away the flyer so I don't have the exact wording.) Inside was a little more explanation on why last in/first out is so bad. There was also a little tear out card that you could put your information on and mail in to say that you think teacher quality and not seniority should be the major factor in teacher layoffs.

Two things struck me about this mailing.

First, the heat is definitely on the union, or at least the heat is trying to be on the union. When there are direct mail pieces trying to whip up popular support against you going out, you know that you're in a precarious spot. At the very least, someone is trying to put you in a precarious spot.

That's what bring me to my second point to ponder: how did my wife end up on the mailing list, whereas I did not? (And yes, I am a little jealous.) We are both former UFT members, though she's a little more recent, but I don't know that it makes sense to target union members with something like this. Plus, I doubt the UFT would share their list with ERN. We don't have kids so her name wouldn't appear on any lists of that sort (if such things exist). She'd never heard of the group, so she hadn't signed up directly as a supporter.

What I keep coming back to is that she is a registered Republican, while I'm a Democrat. Where that starts to get interesting is that in the past that's mattered because she received all of the Bloomberg mailings during the last Mayoral election. I had to read them over her shoulder. Given the facts that I have now, the explanation that seems to make the most sense to me is that the Bloomberg campaign has transferred into OFA-mode and is using their resources to try to bolster non-election campaigns - in this case, the repeal of last in/first out.

This is not entirely out of the realm of possibility either. Joe Williams of the group Democrats for Education Reform sits on the board of ERN. He has hired former Bloomberg campaign manager Bradley Tusk to help in his efforts. So there is a connection there, but it wouldn't totally explain what's going on. After all, Tusk presumably wasn't allowed to keep the various campaign lists after the election for his own personal use.

Now, obviously, that's almost pure speculation at this point and there may be a perfectly good explanation that I just haven't thought of because it's early in the morning. But were I an enterprising reporter, it's a link I just might be trying to look into. After all, if the Mayor or the Republican party in general really is putting resources (monetary and otherwise) behind a group that's explicitly declaring war on the UFT, that would be a story.

1 comment:

Erik Weese said...

I got a flyer too. Your paraphrasing is right. I am a member of the UFT and I don't feel like they do enough media to promote themselves. A volunteer also came to my door with a "survey" about Race to the Top and repealing tenure and enabling merit pay. We had a long conversation about tests and their impact on our students ability to learn.