October 1 2012
Vicki E. Alger
Also released on Friday was an announcement from the New York City teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers that they’re launching a million-dollar ad campaign.
UFT president Michael Mulgrew said the “back-to-school” campaign was already planned and said it had nothing to do with the film—which he dismissed as “a work of fiction.” As the New York Times reports:
His union’s advertising campaign consists of a 30-second commercial that is scheduled to run on local stations during several high-profile network broadcasts and popular shows, including the presidential debate on Wednesday, “Good Morning America,” “Saturday Night Live” and Yankees games. It is also available on YouTube.
In the advertisement, a montage of typical school scenes gives way to teachers speaking about their efforts to help students learn.
“We’re ready to continue working with parents and the community,” says Lesley-Anne Jones, a fifth-grade teacher in East New York.
The American Federation of Teachers, the parent union of the New York union, has also started a public-relations offensive. Although it has not bought advertising time, its president, Randi Weingarten, issued a 2,025-word statement attacking the new movie as “a false and misleading depiction of teachers and unions.” She also appeared Friday morning on CNN to criticize parent trigger laws, which are on the books in seven states, and she noted on Twitter that many reviewers had panned the film.
But here’s the real question: if the teachers unions are as strong as they say they are, then why do they need to spend so much time battling a little ol’ “work of fiction’?
Maybe because teachers union membership is way down, but union leadership salaries are sky high. Not to mention that folks from the Chicago Teachers Union had no qualms about striking during the first week of school over tying teacher evaluations to—HORRORS—student performance.
With a track record like this, it’s going to take a lot more than a rah-rah ad campaign to repair the self-inflicted damage from years-long obstructionism against common-sense teacher quality and school reforms.