This blog has never been about a person. It's about ideas—the good, the bad and the putrid.
However, people who stunt good ideas and try to graft putrid ones upon them are regularly rebuked in this blog. Take New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, whose inane quest to grind public schools into the ground continues unabated, as demonstrated by recent statements that this blog was the first to report on. Consider what you will about Cuomo the person, but Cuomo the politician has even more ideas for public education, ideas that should alarm many New Yorkers.
Though Cuomo has yet to comment on the ideas in this blog, another Andy would like to make The Pen is Mightier than the Person about the person.
At a recent New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Board of Directors meeting, NYSUT executive vice president Andy Pallotta announced that he had called the state attorney general to file a discrimination complaint against this blog, claiming that a recent post likens him to a character from the film Goodfellas. Like a few dozen other enthusiastic readers, Pallotta subjected the piece to a semi-rigorous close-reading and instantly identified with it, even though his actual name or likeness appears nowhere in the piece. Satire is wasted on the stupid, evidently, though Martin Scorsese's film and the blog, if anything, attempt to unearth a theme that often offends people in power: follow the money.
Does Pallotta's absurd attempt to censor this blog mean he's offended? Most likely. Is Pallotta offended by following the money? Let's hope he addresses this in his next lecture on unions and organized crime.
The fact remains, as NYSUT's director of political operations, Pallotta holds power over a lot of money, money that dues-paying members have every right to see is wisely spent.
Since high-stakes tests are the lynch pin of privatization, for example, NYSUT can and should do more to wield the bully pulpit and pocketbook against them. Pallotta and others might begin this campaign by at least asking teachers if they realize that their careers now essentially ride on students getting a 1630 on the SAT—New York State's asinine definition of "college and career readiness." NYSUT might then be in a better position to encourage members not to have their children take the tests—in solidarity with thousands of exasperated parents around the state.
With a decision looming in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, NYSUT must prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If and when dues become optional, thousands of working teachers will need more persuasive reasons to opt-in than saving a few dollars on patio furniture or dancing the nae nae.
People will join a Union that can be seen and heard fighting against the dismantlement of their schools, a Union that vigorously counters the putrid with the good.
We look forward to hearing Pallotta's ideas.