Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why I Will Not Join Educators 4 Excellence

Ruben Brosbe at GothamSchools penned a column explaining his motivation for joining Educators 4 Excellence, the "grassroots" (and I'll try to limit my snark after that) organization that supports higher salaries (good), more rigorous teacher evaluation (good, maybe), ending seniority-based retention (possibly not so good), and, it would seem in effect, further diminishing the role of the union in debates over salary, evaluation, and retention (definitely not good). As someone who has long been suspicious of E4E, I'll take his challenge to disagree passionately without, in his words, "vitriol" directed at him personally.

I don't want to join E4E, first of all, because I'm already a dues-paying member of an organization that is supposed to represent my interests and I find that what E4E stands for runs counter to those interests--or, at least, what those interests are nominally supposed to be, whatever your views on the UFT may be these days.

I don't want to join E4E because I passionately resist the condescending leadership of two individuals who loved teaching and loved children so much that they quit to run a, um, "grassroots" organization. For that matter, I don't want to join E4E because I feel that they have not been honest about who is backing them and where their funding is coming from.

I don't want to join E4E because I hope to someday be a career educator who would like to enjoy the rights that I've paid to have defended (and in some cases, like my pension, actually paid for, myself, personally).

I don't want to join E4E because I have no reason to believe that there are vast armies of defective teachers against whom I must defend myself and my career. Is it still safe to say that I find most of my colleagues to be at least my equal in dedication, responsibility, intelligence, and professionalism?

I don't want to join E4E because I dislike having to sign a loyalty oath to attend an event that is billed as a "conversation." And I have to tell you, I heard about that on GothamSchools and assumed it couldn't possibly be true, so I went to their site and tried to sign up for the Mulgrew event without signing on to E4E itself. And it turns out that that's true. Say what you like about, say, the Tea Party--even they wouldn't require me to sign some statement of beliefs just to show up and hear someone talk.

I will not speculate at all on Brosbe personally. I follow his columns on GothamSchools. I like some of them. I don't like others. If he reads my columns here, I imagine he probably feels the same way. I don't need to assume that he has a list of reasons just like mine for his support of E4E--I know that he does, because he wrote that column. And if he doesn't call into question my professionalism or dedication because I disagree with him on this particular issue, that's fair. If he, or anyone, does, then that will say more about their agenda than words ever could.
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