Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I posted the statement below yesterday in response to the complaints that BATS giving a tee shirt to Randy Weingarten at the Network For Public Education Conference in Austin was undermining the struggle against Common Core and selling out America's children. BATS remains PRO-UNION and ANTI-COMMON CORE. We work within the unions to make them more aggressive and parent friendly on issues important to us.. We do so as a group with a large component of union members and local union leaders. We critique national leaders of the teachers union, often sharply, but we come together with them on issues where we agree, such as defense of public education in Newark. Even if you disagree with that position, you need to understand the strong historic antecedent for that approach, which I present below.

These are matters on which people of good will, and education activists can disagree. I don't think anyone who gave that shirt to Randy Weingarten thought they were softening BATS position against Common Core. Here is my statement

"The greatest gains in the history of the American Labor movement came- after the formation of the CIO ( Congress of Industrial Organizations)--when radicals and some mainstream labor leaders decided to temporarily suspend their war against one another and work for larger gains. Over half of the first group of paid CIO organizers hired by John L Lewis were known radicals. He needed them to penetrate hard to organize factories; they needed him to give them the financial and political support necessary to build the strong industrial unions they had been trying unsuccessfully to create for 20 years. Each thought they were using the other- but the result was something that benefited all American Workers- the unionization of the nation's three largest open shop industries[- auto, steel, and electronics

All this should be kept in mind as BATS try to figure out how to approach leaders of the AFT and NEA in pushing them to come out more aggressively against Common Core or at least mute their support for it. Should we do so exclusively from a position of pressure from the outside or should we use an inside/outside strategy, pressure from without coupled with conversation and communication on a more personal, basis.

There are good arguments for both strategies, but people need to know that the second one has some powerful historical antecedents"