Meet Bob Chanin.
He’s the former chief legal counsel for the National Education Association – the largest public sector labor union in America and the leading opponent of parental choice and other long-overdue education reforms.
Chanin has become famous (or infamous) thanks to a new television advertisement from Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies – a 501(c)4 organization created by Karl Rove.
In the ad – which quotes from his 2009 resignation speech – Chanin explains the effectiveness of his public sector union.
“It is not because of creative ideas, it is not because of the merit of our position, it is not because we care about children, it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child,” Chanin says. “NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power and we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year.”
Here’s the spot:
Pretty damning stuff, eh? Not to mention the fact that this group’s annual meeting looks like a friggin’ presidential nominating convention …
Anyway, given our low opinion of Rove here at FITS, we naturally presumed that his group had taken this tired old man’s remarks out of context (albeit for a good cause). But then we listened to the entire speech (available here).
Not only were Chanin’s remarks quoted in context, but Rove’s group actually missed some of his more inflammatory statements – like his effusive praise for the late New York union leader Albert Shanker, who organized illegal teacher strikes in the late 1960s.
Shanker, of course, is famous for this gem of a quote:
“When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”
In elaborating on this “educrat first” vision, Chanin’s speech offered the following corollary as it relates to achieving the goals of individual academic achievement and better public schools (i.e. what public education is supposed to be about).
“These goals that guide the work we do they need not and must not be achieved at the cost of due process, employee rights and collective bargaining,” he said. “When all is said and done NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members.”
Chanin also specifically derided “conservative and right wing bastards” for their opposition to the NEA’s “liberal social and economic agenda.”
The NEA is represented in the Palmetto state by the liberal South Carolina Education Association (SCEA) – which along with the S.C. School Boards Association and S.C. Association of School Administrators has successfully blocked parental choice legislation over the past six years while securing record amounts of funding for a failed public education system that spends more than 55 cents of every dollar it receives on non-classroom expenses.
Not surprisingly, our state’s overall graduation rate remains among the worst in the nation – improving by a meager 1.5 percent over the last decade (one of the worst percentage improvements in the entire country). That’s consistent with our rural graduation rate (which currently ranks dead last in the country) as well as our declining SAT and stagnating ACT scores.
In spite of record funding increases in recent years, our monopolistic system has continued to produce nothing but incremental gains among white students while relegating yet another generation of black students to second-class status – even as black “leaders” continue embracing the failed status quo.
In fact, at this very moment there are 109,000 South Carolina school children trapped in persistently failing schools.
Such are the sad fruits of a system that puts educrats first, teachers second and children last …
We cannot allow this self-serving system to continue perpetuating failure at an increasingly higher cost to the taxpayer. It is past time that South Carolina leaders stopped listening to liberal unions who claim to be “for the children” and start listening to individual parents …