Christopher Sawyer asks why Johnny Doc and the IBEW, who are usually very vocal on all union-related issues in Southeast PA regardless of the impact on the construction trades, have been MIA in the major labor fight over privatization of Philly schools:
That leads me to wonder: did the lobbyists pushing charter schools in Philadelphia find a way to buy off Johnny Doc and the Philadelphia Building Trades Council?
Think about it for a second. The battles PFT has been fighting with the School Reform Commission, the huge rounds of layoffs, the steady stripping of seniority privileges and the wage cuts coming down the pike; these are obvious things that almost always cause Johnny Doc and the rest of the labor leader crowd to pop their heads up and jockey for media attention.
But not this time. The only support I’ve seen our building trades give to the teachers have been some tweets here and there.
The forces pushing charter-ization have found the magic formula to push their agenda: buy off every politician and political influence that breathes; then employ them in your army against your opponents. John Dougherty’s muted support and lack of street activism for the teachers speaks volumes about where his priorities lie.
The answer of course is that the conservative wing of the labor movement has not been quiet about this at all. Doc and IBEW have actively supported school privatization efforts and school closings:
Here’s an excerpt from an op-ed from September 2007, entitled “Let’s have vouchers – and include parochial schools:”
Critics would say that such a voucher program would result in the closure of many public schools. Maybe closing some of our perennially underperforming schools is exactly what’s required to rise above the level of academic mediocrity we have seem to be mired in for decades.
I strongly believe that school vouchers would lead to a vastly improved education for the students who participate and – by stimulating competition between public and private schools for students’ hearts and minds – would spark much-needed improvements in Philadelphia’s failing public schools.
You be the judge of whether those improvements have materialized.
I’m not personally one who thinks public charter schools don’t have any role to play in the education ecosystem, but PA’s state policy on this has zero interest in holding anyone accountable for results, and the changes we’ve seen a few years into this experiment do not seem to me to have made life better for the groups advocates like Dougherty say they speak for.
It seems to me that the Pennsylvania Catholic Coalition’s Fighting Chance PA PAC may have its hooks in the conservative wing of the labor movement (Doc’s pictured above with the bad guys).
Extrapolating out to the 2015 elections, it seems clear that Philadelphians upset with the direction of public school policy the past few years will be unable to get different policies by supporting the Building Trades Council’s favorite candidates for Mayor and City Council in 2015.