StudentsFirstNY versus the teachers union: ‘It’s one group of adults fighting with another group of adults’

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There was a small but potentially significant little tactical moment last night when the new head of a pro-charter-school organization went on NY1 to talk about the organization's coming battles with the United Federation of Teachers, stated the premise, and had it batted away by the host.

The following exchange came about three minutes into a conversation between Students First NY's executive director, Micah Lasher, and NY1 host Errol Louis:

Lasher: Making changes in the largest school district in the country, in a way that puts students ahead of adults is not something that comes easy. It would be great if everyone could agree about the changes we need to make.

Louis: You're not putting students ahead of adults. It's not a group students, right? It's one group of adults fighting with another group of adults.

Lasher: No.

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Louis: This is what concerns, I think, so many people: that it looks like it's going to be one more round of fights that we just watched go on for the last decade which have, in certain cases, ended somewhat inconclusively. Right? That neither side backs down, everybody goes to court, everybody goes back to the bargaining table, and everybody goes into the voting booth and tries to vote out the other side. And, you know, there's a lot of activity around that. But the scores don't change that much.

The pro-charter forces, strongly backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have arguably been on the front foot in New York for a while now, riding a crest of public opinion that was both exemplified and heightened by Waiting for Superman. But the idea that their fight boils down to contructive reform versus recalcitrant self-interest is predicated on the notion that it's advocates for children fighting against advocates for public-employee adults. 

The idea that the fight is between competing adult interests is, at least, a more complicated one.