Only on Planet Teacher Union can obnoxious American wrestlers and a potentially cataclysmic political situation in the Middle East be utilized to advance the teachers unions’ agenda.
My never ending quest to find something good that teachers unions do for children or taxpayers has led to some pretty strange dead ends, but lately we have hit on a couple of items that even the most jaded among us can’t quite digest.
The first story has made a few ripples in the blogosphere, but overall not exactly a big splash. On April 29th, the Creative Coalition and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) issued a press release to announce that they were partnering with the National Education Association. The Creative Coalition is a typical progressive arts activist outfit, which as a registered 501(c)(3) must officially be “nonpolitical.” This is the type of organization that you’d expect NEA to align with. However, that NEA has entered into a formal partnership with WWE is something that left even one as cynical as I, with mouth agape.
NEA has a very progressive social agenda, fighting against real and imagined isms – heterosexism, feminism, etc., while promoting others – socialism, egalitarianism, etc. Of late, NEA’s favorite cause célèbre has been anti-bullying. However, if you have spent more than 3 seconds watching WWE garbage, you know that bullying (“Do you fear me? I like that.”) is just what they promote — with more than a little misogyny (“Trish get on your hands and knees like a dog.”) thrown in…and seasoned with a dash of homophobia for taste (effeminate men mincing and kissing each other in the ring) – all things NEA professes to abhor.
Rosalind Wiseman, a children’s ethics specialist, asked Nora Howley, manager of NEA’s Health Information Network programs, why the teachers union decided to work with WWE. Her response was, “WWE wrestling is silly, scripted matches. And there’s no body of evidence that proves wrestling causes violence.”
Maybe they are silly and scripted to Ms. Howley but they aren’t silly and scripted to many of the impressionable children and young adults who watch this kind of “entertainment” on a regular basis. Ms. Wiseman, a very level-headed person, spent a fair amount of time analyzing the reasons for NEA entering into such a strange and perverse alliance. The best reason she could come up with is that the Creative Coalition and NEA “got stars in their eyes when they thought about reaching WWE’s large fan base. According to WWE’s own statistics, they have average online viewership of 8.9 million video streams per month. These organizations believe that WWE will enable the (WWE’s) ‘Be A Star’ (anti-bullying) program to be seen by many more people than if they didn’t work with WWE.”
Ms. Wiseman may be on to something. As Alix said, in her Association of American Educators blog, “What could possibly be the goal behind this coalition? The answer clearly lies in the NEA’s constant quest to promote social agendas and gain political clout.”
Hence, NEA’s myopic drive to advance its own brand of social justice has led it to a very bizarre and contradictory place – a coalition with an organization that promotes a product and behavior that runs counter NEA’s own agenda. The consequence of this partnership will bring more shame and indignity to an organization that has morally hit bottom and just keeps digging.
Perhaps in an attempt to outdo NEA, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten recently went to Egypt in a latter day attempt to fulfill the Marxist rallying cry of “Workers of the world unite!” According to Weingarten’s press release,
From Wisconsin to Cairo, citizens have been fighting efforts to keep workers silent. As public employees in Wisconsin continue their struggle to maintain collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin has been selected as a pilot site in the “Quality Public Services—Action Now!” campaign, through the AFT-affiliated Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and AFT-Wisconsin…
Defending public services and the workers who provide them is a worldwide challenge, and the AFT is standing with allies around the globe to maintain those services and the rights of public employees. That’s why I led an AFT delegation that visited Egypt to meet with the independent Egyptian unions whose efforts proved decisive in bringing down the corrupt regime that ruled their country for decades.
Talk about moral confusion! She equates Wisconsin’s democratically elected governor and legislature that lawfully ended collective bargaining for teachers with Egypt, where the government led by Hosni Mubarak was a dictatorship and directly controlled the only union in the country – the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF.)
Weingarten also neglects to mention that while deposed Egyptian leader was no pussycat, the country is now in the hands of a military junta with a revived Muslim Brotherhood making significant political strides. The odds that Egypt will come out of this as anything close to a free country are somewhere between slim and none. But hey, when you are a teacher union boss, don’t sweat the details. Just come out with a pompous, self-aggrandizing press release and hope no one gives it a second thought.
I’ve heard that Weingarten’s next move is to bring a team of Egyptian wrestlers to Madison to bully and humiliate the governor of Wisconsin.
About the author: Larry Sand is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.