April 8, 2021

Odds & Ends: All Your Divisive Issues In One Place!

By Bellwether

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Coming attractions – Pedro Noguera and I will be doing a session to help kick off Ed Tech week. That’s 4/19 and that week.

Jonathan Zimmerman on free speech via WSJ($):

I’m glad that conservatives have embraced free speech, but I’d also like to see my fellow liberals reclaim it. We need the courage to speak up again for free speech, which remains the best vehicle for righting the wrongs of America.

There is a line of thought from John Stuart Mill through Frederick Douglas and then more recently with MLK and John Lewis (and even more recently via Mighty Ira and Jon Rauch) about how and why free expression is fundamental to progress and justice. It is striking how much a conviction that our times are just so unique and unprecedented it calls for new approaches is putting pressure on that argument.

From the land of Lincoln:

You know, you can find few people not directly or indirectly in the pay of the teachers union who looked at Chicago’s education scene and said, ‘you know what the teachers union needs there? More control, that’s what!’ That’s why the mayor, Lori Lightfoot by the way, not some union-busting conservative or libertarian think tank darling, opposed the effort to expand the scope of collective bargaining there. But it happened.

I’d pay attention to it. Chicago is not Vegas, what happens there doesn’t stay there and all that. We saw that after the seminal 2012 strike. Lightfoot is admirably vertebrate in her dealings with the teachers union and they wanted to make the point that you can deal with them in the city or the state capital. They did that and it’ll get noticed.

I don’t want Mike Antonucci’s job, but also on the union beat this interview got AFT head Randi Weingarten in some trouble. The claim floating around Twitter that Weingarten is antisemitic seems ludicrous – she’s married to a rabbi so that would be pretty awkward. But she can certainly get ahead of herself in the heat of the moment – think “polite cousins of segregation” for another example  – when the politics are intense or cross-pressured. Seems like that happened here:

I think some people are very skeptical of the power that they perceive teachers unions to have. They look at, for example, the ongoing struggles in Los Angeles, where they see this big dollar figure of aid being given for school reopening and are baffled by the perceived resistance of teachers to going back to work.

[Weingarten:] I have a very pointed response here for Jews making this argument.
American Jews are now part of the ownership class. Jews were immigrants from somewhere else. And they needed the right to have public education. And they needed power to have enough income and wealth for their families that they could put their kids through college and their kids could do better than they have done. Both economic opportunity through the labor movement and an educational opportunity through public education were key for Jews to go from the working class to the ownership class.

What I hear when I hear that question is that those who are in the ownership class now want to take that ladder of opportunity away from those who do not have it. Am I saying that everything we do is right? No. Are people in Los Angeles fearful? Yes.

If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, this was the interview answer that launched a thousand “what the actual f” emails.

Via The 74, Kevin Mahnken reports on the political fight about transgender students and school sports:

Joanna Harper, a sports researcher at England’s Loughborough University and herself a trans runner, observed that various proposals to address the issue for teenagers all come with downsides. In an interview, she set a goal of “being as inclusive as we can possibly be without destroying the competitive balance.”

Joanna Harper, a researcher at Loughborough University (Joanna Harper)

“It’s so hard,” said Harper. “How do you tell a 15- or 16-year old that they have to go on hormone therapy to play sports? It’s an extraordinarily difficult thing to say, but for these very high-performing athletes, it does create a conundrum.”

To others, one consideration supersedes all others: the need to welcome trans children into all aspects of school life, including sports. Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, the executive director of the advocacy group GLSEN (previously known as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), said that no claims around competitive fairness could justify treating trans students any different from their cisgender peers (i.e., those whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth).

“To use words from another civil rights fight, we know that anything separate is not equal. We know that when we start differentiating across lines of identity, young people will not be served by that.”

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