The Mayor as Pontiff: Sending Campbell Brown, His Knight Templar to Disempower the Teacher Union

When history repeats itself it does so the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Karl Marx.

In the cold, cruel world of influencing public opinion there are no rules, truth is simply a noun, one does what is effective, as long as the backlash does not injury you or your candidate.

Campbell Brown, a former CNN anchor, is probably looking for a permanent gig on Fox, and her recent renewed attack on the UFT, the New York City teacher union, is a cynical attempt to besmirch the reputation of the union and enhance her own career.

Brown accuses the union of “protecting” sexual predator teachers.

The New York State Commission of Education, John King, called the discipline procedures negotiated by the union “a model for the state.”

If the discipline procedures for New York City are a “model for the state” why is Campbell Brown blaming the union?

A political sage was regaling us with stories – in the 70s and 80s the Republicans in the State legislature were trying to get a death penalty law passed. Each year they got closer, eventually they passed the law and overrode a veto by Governor Cuomo the elder. The “sage” bemoaned the passage of the law: “They never should have passed the law, it took a great campaign issue off the table, they could have continued to run on it for years.”

The mayoral election is approaching, the primary seventy days off and the teacher union not only has tens of thousands of members, the public holds the union in high regard,

Sol Stern in City Journal reports the highly regarded Zogby Analytics poll,

New Yorkers now trust the oft-maligned teachers more than they trust the mayor’s office: almost half of all respondents said that teachers should “play the largest role in determining New York City’s education policy,” compared with 28 percent who thought that the mayor-appointed schools chancellor should.

How do you degrade the reputation of the union as the countdown to the elections ticks down? You accuse them of harboring sexual predators.

The reality is quite different.

If a teacher in New York City is arrested on a felony sexual misconduct charge s/he is suspended without pay, and, if they are found guilty or plead guilty they are discharged without any hearing.

If a teacher is accused of misconduct without an arrest, s/he is removed from contact with students and the Department conducts an investigation. It is commonplace for the investigation to take months and additional months until a report is issued. The report is passed along to the lawyers who decide whether to prefer charges. There is frequently a tension between the investigators and the lawyers. The lawyers must present the case to a jointly-selected arbitrator, witnesses must testify, and a weak case might result in the teacher sitting in a reassignment center for months until the charges fade away or the teacher negotiates a settlement – perhaps a fine.

Why doesn’t the Department have a special unit? Why don’t they vigorously investigate immediately? Employ investigators and lawyers trained to investigate and prosecute these types of cases? The Department will plead poverty – we don’t have enough investigators or lawyers. How many lawyers does the Department employ to challenge placement cases before impartial hearing officers in Special Education? How many employees does the Department use in the accountability office?

There is never a shortage of dollars if the Department determines the dollars are needed to pursue the goals of the Department. Opposing placements in Special Education that are more expensive is a goal of the Department, the accountability metrics are the core of the Department, the dollars will always be available.

If we fail to fund more investigators and lawyers, if we tarry and not pursue cases vigorously we can blame the union, and, perhaps erode their power and popularity – the union is the enemy and whatever is necessary to weaken the union is acceptable.

According to the Daniel Day Lewis Lincoln anything, including bribing legislators was acceptable to pass the Thirteenth Amendment. Is the NSA scooping up cell phone data acceptable to prevent another terrorist attack? There are complex and difficult ethical issues.

Campbell Brown is simply sleazy.

Brown and the Department are marionettes and the Mayor is geppetto.

The puppet masters with access to the pages of the Daily News, the Post and Fox are tasked with burnishing the reputation of the outgoing Pope of New York.

“He who heareth you, heareth Me.” (Luke 10:16); and usually what is set forth and inculcated in Encyclical Letters, already pertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their acts, after due consideration, express an opinion on a hitherto controversial matter, it is clear to all that this matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot any longer be considered a question of free discussion among theologians.

For Pontiff Bloomberg policies have the force of encyclical letters, there can be no discussion, The teachers’ union are heretics and most be punished – and Campbell Brown are the Knights Templar.

Unfortunately the mayor posing as a modern-day mayor/pontiff is a farce, a cruel farce.

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3 responses to “The Mayor as Pontiff: Sending Campbell Brown, His Knight Templar to Disempower the Teacher Union

  1. Ken Karcinell

    The function of a labor union is to collect dues, gain salary and health benefits for its memebers, negotiate contracts, and to sustain its growth. Teachers, Paras, Administartors and all others are vetted, licensed, appointed and evaluated by The DOE. Once passing muster, they are able to assume school positions and become union members. To my knowledge the union has not been able to or has it sought to prevent the removal of accused perverts, folks arrested for felony crime, and in many cases misdemeanor crimes. The union as per its function, will see to it that its contractual stipulations with regard to its members brought up on such charges are extended to those members. The union does not judge these people, or have any say in how those members are prosecuted or otherwise ousted from the system. There are well over 100,000 memebrs of various school related unions,UFT, CSA, Dist 37 and 1 or 2 others. With such numbers, the likelihood of some individuals to be undesirable is minimal, as it is with crooked cops, immoral clergy, and shady politicians. No one would knowingly advocate for perverts, and deviates to be allowed to present in the presence of children. I dont know this reporter, but somewhere along her family tree, there may have been someone who was in The Teamsters, or had friends in the Teamsters, does that make them or for that matter her guilty by association? Still another might have been associated with Tammany Hall, or knew people who were. Does that make them or her corrupt. Guilt by association and innuendo is a signature trait of our Mayor and his minions. I have faith in our constituents (parents of NYC’s children) to the effect that they understand that no one, including our unions are happy to see any of its memebrs arrested for perversion or worse.

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  2. Marc Korashan

    The real question is not whether Campbell Brown is sleazy, she is. The real question that faces us is whether a democratic government will remain possible with a fourth estate (the press and media) that are not interested in facts or in fostering real debate over the issues.

    More significant than Brown’s attack on the Teachers’ Union is the willingness of the press to allow sound bites that are factually wrong to go unchallenged. Even more significant is the unwillingness of the media to ask the hard questions and demand real answers (from politicians on both sides of the aisle).

    When Senator Rubio is asked about strengthening anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and replies that there are enough regulations already, no one asks whether he thinks it is okay to dismiss an employee merely because he or she is gay. Adding protections for gender based discrimination was the issue, but the real question doesn’t get asked.

    When the President tries to defend the government’s spying on journalists, no one asks this Constitutional Law professor what language in the Constitution makes this a legitimate practice for a democracy. No asks him if we aren’t dependent on a “free press” to make our democracy and doesn’t this kind of spying damage the freedom of the press and the willingness of people to talk to the press.

    No one asks Brown what makes her say that the union protects predators or confronts her with the language in the contract that (over the objection of many members) allows for suspension without pay for “serious misconduct,” e.g. drug use or sale, any crime involving physical abuse of a minor, a felony involving firearms, or a felony committed on school property as well as any charge of sexual abuse of a minor. If she were asked, would she know that this language exists? If she were asked, would she be willing to admit that the DOE is responsible, as Ed points out, for the pace of investigations and ask the DOE to explain why it takes so long to bring cases forward?

    What is needed is a a mandated curriculum that mirrors the one we had in the fifties to ensure that we weren’t fooled by Russian propaganda tactics. We studied “the big lie,” “the bandwagon effect,” and other techniques used to try to persuade people without resorting to facts and reason; the kind of stuff that Madison Avenue uses to get us to spend more than we should on products we may not need.

    When we talk about teaching critical thinking, this is what we should be doing. We need to ask students to analyze the news broadcasts, the internet sources they follow, and their social networking sites. We need to ask our students to be critical consumers of news and to start demanding that the fourth estate do its job and ask the hard questions and demand real answers.

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  3. I guess in Campbell Brown’s world “due process” and “innocent until proven guilty” is not for teachers accused of sexual misconduct.

    Just because an investigator might have substantiated the charge. One must have real evidence, not hearsay and gossip when it comes to an Arbitrator., Many investigators take gossip as a gospel to substantiate the charge. However, an Arbitrator requires a preponderance of relevant evidence, not hearsay or gossip, when making their decision.

    Just a reminder, if the Principal does not like the teacher, the investigator will substantiate garbage to get the teacher removed. That is why arbitrators are needed to separate the truth from lies and accusations that are found to be false.

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