Apparently, the [American Federation of Teachers] AFT in Connecticut accidentally posted on its web site a secret 19-page slide presentation (attached) entitled How Connecticut Diffused the Parent Trigger, laying out how it was able to neuter reformers’ attempt to pass parent trigger legislation similar to what California enacted in late 2009 (thanks in large part to the leadership of then state senator Gloria Romero, who now heads DFER-CA). RiShawn Biddle of Dropout Nation captured and downloaded it before the AFT realized its mistake, and has reposted it at: http://rishawnbiddle.org/outsidereports/aft_parentpower_guide.pdf.
It is stunning – there is so much juicy stuff here (though most of it won’t be a surprise to veterans of fights with the unions):
The AFT’s first line of defense is “Plan A: Kill Mode” (nice image; how ironic that elsewhere, the AFT document complains that the term parent trigger “has a disturbing connotation”)
Then, if the AFT can’t kill the bill, its next line of defense is to “engage the opposition” (meaning dupe them), which appeared to work, as the final outcome was legislation that allows the formation of “School Governance Councils” that have the “authority to recommend reconstitution in third year of poor performance” (whatever that means). Translation: the AFT’s strategy was to trick parents into joining committees that appear to have power, but actually are only advisory. Very clever. Thank goodness this cynical strategy is being exposed.
The icing on the cake is that the AFT talks smack about the local NEA affiliate, CEA, saying “CEA thought it would go away if they just ignored it” and how the AFT “Dragged CEA along kicking and screaming because teachers had to be united” (the NEA is going to love reading that)
Here’s is RiShawn’s take on it:
The AFT’s Real Feelings About Parent Power
Three Thoughts No Comments by RiShawn Biddle
When the AFT offers a road map on how to shut down Parent Power efforts, it offers a nice PDF document to do it. Apparently in a fit of celebration during last month’s TEACH 2011 conference, the nation’s second-largest teachers union offered up a presentation on how its Connecticut affiliate managed to make the state’s Parent Trigger law a little less harder for parents to use. (Dropout Nation is doing everyone a courtesy by making it available for public consumption; the original is still available at the AFT’s Web site. At least, for now.)
This included arguing that parents groups weren’t at the table for the discussions that led to the passage of the law. (Gwen Samuel and former state representative Jason Barlett, who had led the effort to pass the Parent Trigger law, will find that statement quite amusing.) It also includes declaring that it brought the Nutmeg State’s NEA affiliate “kicking and screaming” to the negotiations because “teachers had to be united.” Again, the NEA will probably find this very amusing.
Whatever one thinks of the document, it clearly offers a lesson for school reformers and Parent Power activists everywhere: The debate over reforming American public education isn’t going to let up anytime soon.
Update: The AFT has taken down the document. Dropout Nation continues to have a copy available.