Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More EdelGate

Gov. Quinn signs the bill.
Huffington's Will Guzzardi summarizes the Edelman video [transcribed version is here] and subsequent apology. He recounts how corporate reformers, Stand For Children, led by Jonah Edelman, successfully played on the rift between Chicago political boss, Sen. Mike Madigan, and the unions over pensions, to pass SB7.

Edelman's talk, which he gave at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday, June 28, is a narrative of how Stand for Children systematically chose its political allies in the Illinois, invested over $600,000 in nine state legislative races, raised another $3 million, and exacted concession after concession from the state's teachers unions. At first, he explains, Stand saw an opportunity when the Illinois Federation of Teachers turned against all-powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan over Madigan's passage of pension reforms in 2010. The IFT had been a reliable supporter of the Speaker and many of his supporters in the legislature, but it withheld all its endorsements that year from those who had voted for the pension bill. Guessing presciently that Madigan and his House Democrats wouldn't be caught up in the national Republican wave of that year, Edelman decided to position Stand for Children on his side, hoping to curry favor post-election. 
More Guzzardi:
In response to the growing criticism of his talk, Edelman sent an apology to [Fred] Klonsky and other bloggers who posted the video. He chides himself for a tone he describes as "arrogant," and says that he portrayed the debate more as an "us-vs.-them" competition rather than the collaboration that he now insists it actually was. Meanwhile, some of the wronged parties from the video are saying their piece. In a post on Catalyst Chicago, an education blog, a CTU spokeswoman argues that the union will in fact be able to meet the 75 percent threshold required to strike. “We would not have agreed with this if we did not believe that we had a viable option in collective bargaining,” she said.
And in an email message reprinted on Klonsky's blog, incoming president of the Illinois Education Association Cinda Klickna said that "most" of the video "is an absolute lie."
Unions respond to Edelman

Here the IEA's response to the Edelman video:
Despite building the state’s largest political war chest and suggesting his organization had the power to “potentially jam this proposal down [the education unions’] throats,” SfC failed to get its bill passed. Instead, SfC was forced to collaborate with a coalition of education employee unions, lawmakers, school administrators and other education stakeholders who had been working together for years, on a comprehensive reform package that puts students first. -- Read the entire IEA statement here.
Union table at the negotiations.
The three teachers unions that took part in the negotiations with Edelman and the corporate reformers -- IFT, IEA and the CTU, issued a joint statement yesterday. I post it in full here, without comment (for now).

Statement from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association, and the Chicago Teachers Union, regarding the comments by Stand for Children's CEO, Jonah Edelman, recorded at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
For more information on this story, go to:

July 12, 2011 - We were disappointed to hear the views of Stand for Children's leader and his own assessment of his organization's involvement in Illinois politics. We heard a lot from Jonah Edelman about power in politics, power over unions and management power over teachers. Sadly, we didn't hear anything in that hour-long session about improving education. 

Frankly, Edelman was never actively engaged in that collaborative process. 

By falsely claiming to have manipulated people engaged in honest negotiations, Stand for Children's leader jeopardizes the ability of education stakeholders to work collaboratively in the future. That can make it harder to improve education quality for children. That's wrong. 

What's worse is that these false claims clearly show an organizational agenda that has nothing to do with helping kids learn. 

Jonah Edelman's mischaracterization of the SB7 negotiations will not change our commitment to do what is right for kids and to make sure the adults are treated fairly.

However, his openness about Stand for Children's tactics and agenda will make it very difficult for any education advocate or politician to interact with the organization in the future.
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1 comment:

  1. Edelman's comments about the pension issue are a very important but as yet undiscussed part of this sordid story. Edelman saw an opening because of a split between the IFT and Madigan over the two tier pension bill. But he doesn't mention the IEA. Why? Because there was no split between Madigan and the IEA. The IEA's role as the handmaiden of Edelman, Rahm and Madigan was foretold by their willingness to go along with so-called pension reform. Later, according to Edelman, they put the screws on the CTU's Karen Lewis to accept the 75% strike rule. With the pension issue coming back in the Fall veto session, keep your eyes on the IEA.


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