Saturday, June 20, 2015

Teachers Know Nothing About Politics

So says New York Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.  

In a recent interview, the chair of the assembly’s education committee bemoaned the ignorance of educators, conflating their angst over laws levied against their livelihoods with their Albany naiveté:
"Sometimes I wish teachers would have a better grasp of the political process. Since Race to the Top, we’ve talked about teacher evaluation [sic] every year because we were sort of forced to by Race to the Top."                                                                  
                  Catherine Nolan (D-NY)
June 16, 2015
Though New York’s Race to the Top money evaporated high above the Catskill Mountains before any drops could trickle into classrooms, Nolan lamely implies that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will soon stride into schools across the state and ask for his money back if more teachers aren’t fired. 

When asked about her bill to inform families about abusive state tests, Nolan pivoted to Duncan’s infamous “white suburban moms” comment, blaming her legislative inaction on some federal monster stalking her in the gloom.

It should surprise no one, however, that Duncan does indeed resemble Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, ready to suffocate your child's school with douchebaggery:


Nolan proceeded to praise the “continuing process” of Albany—a state government which has historically been as fluid as a vial of horse manure. The careers of educators everywhere apparently now cling to the calves of leaders like Nolan, who three months ago voted to demolish teacher tenure while hitting our kids on their heads with mallets patented by Pearson.

Sadly, Nolan understands education about as much as teachers understand politics, yet parents, teachers and students suffer when ignorant assholes like Andrew Cuomo pass laws on behalf of billionaires.

When asked specifically about the teacher evaluation law she voted for—which includes a convoluted and clunky “matrix” to determine a teacher’s overall rating—Nolan would only say that she supports the seven six members of the Board of Regents who publicly rejected the ludicrous law.

If only Nolan agreed with the dissident Regents before she decided to enshrine the source of their rebellion into law.  

Though politics is a convenient scapegoat, Nolan and others must understand the educational process before surrendering to the political machine. Bad laws are worse than no laws, and take much longer to repeal. New York teachers will likely wait longer than prohibition before getting tenure back, for instance, and the opt-out movement balances on the border of oblivion, its fate likely residing in the Supreme Court.

If Race to the Top is truly to blame for Cuomo's quest to destroy public education, then New York teachers can expect even less help from Nolan should someone like Wisconsin Governor and Alfalfa's brother from another mother Scott Walker win the White House next year. Walker is determined to crush organized labor from the federal perch, and heavy-hearted, spineless democrats like Nolan will scurry beneath boulders if and when Walker assumes office.  After all, if politicians can’t stand up to their own party, they cannot be expected to stand against other parties.  

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is not as innocent as he looks

Though teachers may not fully understand politics, they are at least starting to stand up for political change within their own union.

At NYSUT’s annual representative assembly in Buffalo last month, it was standing-room only at the inaugural meeting of Stronger Together
, a union caucus formed last year to counteract the kowtowing complacency of NYSUT's current leadership. ST caucus seeks to engender an inclusive, proactive union, a union that hopes to see the train's headlights before tasting its wheels. 

NYSUT passed ST caucus-authored resolutions at the RA, for example, which denounce the Common Snore standards and their inane tests, and the UFT's Michael Mulgrew punched no teacher in the face.

Teachers union thugs in Buffalo

ST caucus will also help remind the public that although teachers may not fully grasp the realities of the political process, they do grasp its potentials, and know that a wise and just society does not place process over product.

New York's political process has left its schools with a rotten product, however, and Cathy Nolan and others seem okay with that, for now. 

Don't worry, teachers...the next legislative session is right around the corner...


  1. Thank you for this intelligent, insightful and ballsy post.

  2. The irony meter is off the charts here folks with the inanimate lump Nolan complaining about someone else's ignorance. Wasn't her favorite response to education questions something like "Ummmphhh?" last time she had to explain herself?

  3. I think I got what Nolan was trying to say - that even though Albany is a swamp infested by neer-do-well's, they all have to work together anyway. Teachers (and I'm one) have all these black or white views, for example saying all the YES votes must be voted out of office. That election is over a year away and NY will need those same Assembly members to elect new Regents before then, Regents who are former teachers.

    So we have to stay engaged with them - civilly - and realize how politics work. This is what the founding fathers wanted. And this is what Nolan was saying, there is a lot of strategy at work here, gamesmanship, parliamentary tricks, horse trading, deal making, alliances and intrigue. If something is going to get passed out of Flanagan's Senate, they need to make a deal with the devil. Nolan is reminding teachers that if you want something done this session, it's got to be part of what Albany calls "the big ugly". Then to get it signed by the governor? Good luck with that.

    So even if teachers go out and get a new legislature elected with all new majority leaders, we still have to wait until 2018 to elect a new governor. Teachers need to understand - if we think the Democrats are bad on education, how could we ever expect anything to happen with the Republicans in charge in the Senate?