KIPP Teachers: We'll Unionize, Thanks.

What Are They So Afraid Of?"

To read the tabloid press and the right wing edu-blogosphere these days, one would think that the decision of the KIPP AMP teachers to organize with the UFT was something akin to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse riding into town.
Anti-unionist image of teachers organizing

What is extraordinary is the violent tone and tenor of much of this commentary, and the violence done to the most simple and straightforward of facts.

The Fordham Foundation’s Flypaper blog announced that the teachers at KIPP AMP had decided NOT to organize, in the latest iteration of its well-established practice of mangling story after story about teacher unions beyond recognition. This was followed by the usual mealy-mouthed update announcing that the truth was, well, the opposite of what it had just reported. For good measure, Fordham blogger Palmieri expressed her outrage over the fact that under New York State public employee labor law, employees have an unambiguous right to organize with a union — regardless of whether their employer approves of their choice. And she helpfully provides a link to the anti-teacher union organizing manual of the Atlantic Legal Foundation, the not for profit arm of the law firm Jackson, Lewis, the most notorious anti-union law firm in the US.

At the blog of Jay Greene and the United Cherry Pickers, Matthew Ladner suggests that what Rome is reputed to have done to Carthage is the right approach for an unionized charter school: “KIPP should pull the plug on these schools at the end of the school year, burn down the buildings and plow salt into the ground upon which they once stood.” Does the resort to ancient campaigns of annihilation and extermination sound a bit extreme? Might observers reasonably conclude that this sturm and drang is about nothing but a desire to eliminate unions? For Ladner, Vice President of the Goldwater Institute, extremism in the pursuit of anti-unionism is no vice, and facts are no obstacle on that road. He simply invents out of whole cloth a set of extreme fictions — imaginary KIPP AMP teachers set on destroying the educational program of the school and mythical 1000 page contracts — to justify his position.

Not to be outdone by its right-wing bethren in the edu-blogosphere, the New York Post weighs in with an editorial denouncing the KIPP AMP organizing.

What is it about teacher voice that so frightens the denizens of the far right, that even the prospect of democratic teacher input into decision-making in the educational workplace should be met with such rhetorical ferocity?

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