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UFT/AFT: Think Like Vichy

Reader Comment: It's been a long time since the unions have summoned the power of the principled stand. Bread & butter unionism has led the entire labor movement astray. TIme was, the US labor movement stood for deep social justice and the fight against fascism, in addition to fair compensation. Labor used to represent all persons with progressive ideals, regardless of vocation. We need this progressive union voice now that we're reaching the end of the American Empire and a fundamental restructuring of our political economy is bound to take place.

by Norm Scott

Where I pose the question: Is Diane Ravitch our De Gaulle?

I've been criticized from all sides for my comparison of the UFT/AFT leaders to French Vichy in WWII (make sure to click this link if you are unaware of the historical context before reading on.) Even some of the anti-Unity buddies say I am going too far. The union after all, they claim, is still ours no matter how distorted their policies and accusations of collaboration go too far.

I don't agree.

I've been intending to clarify my position - I am not comparing them to Nazi sympathizers - but to a way of thinking.

Peter Goodman, UFT/AFT shill who will justify any policy, has been leaving droppings on his own Ed in the Apple blog and on Gotham.

Below is my response to one of his last comments which included this "I surrender" ("je me rends" in French) comment:

From Seattle to Boston, from Florida to Chicago, from LA to NY, educational policy is undergoing a sea change. It is supported by the President and the States, it is accountability, core standards, free market driven: testing, ratings/remuneration by student achievement, value-added, charter schools, etc. Diane Ravitch and other scholars strongly oppose, however, the electeds are supportive across the nation. If the Republicans sweep to victory these policies wouldn’t change, the fed dollars would stop flowing. Teacher unions can either vigorous oppose and isolate themselves, they are powerless to change these policies, or, attempt to cooperate and modify policies. It is easy to blame Weingarten or Mulgrew, the same policies exist in every state and every major city.

I really gag every time I read this, but here is my reasoned response, something I am not known for.

In France in WWII there was a choice. Oppose the Germans unequivocally or compromise - to paraphrase you - "they could either vigorously oppose and isolate themselves, they are powerless to change these policies, or, attempt to cooperate and modify policies."

The French resistance chose the former, the Vichy government chose the latter. DeGaulle vs. Petain. After all Vichy reasoned. The Germans were dominant. Vichy asked, "Do you want to be totally under their boot or have us there to modify their policies? We know they want to kill all the Jews but we can save at least some of them."

I am not calling anyone a Nazi sympathizer but I am using the most graphic example I can of what I would call "The Vichy" mentality. A way of thinking that is so prevalent coming from the very forces that had the ability to put up a fight but instead think like Vichy.

Unions can fight for what is right for teachers and students and if done in a moral and democratic manner, they will not only not be isolated but will win people over to what is clearly right to so many educators and increasingly the public (see new leadership in Chicago). In fact it is the leadership of the AFT and UFT that is becoming isolated not only from its own membership but from the astute non teaching community.

It may look like the summer of 1940 in Europe to many. Maybe having Diane Ravitch (our De Gaulle?) not only join but help lead the resistance is akin to the US entering the war.

When Diane Ravitch and others break with your policy it is clear that it is you who are on the wrong side of history.

— Norm Scott
Education Notes Online





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