Philadelphia’s state-appointed school board (called the School Reform Commission) recently suspended the expired contract that city’s local of Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has been working under for two years. The district hopes to redirect $43.8 million over the next year directly into classrooms from the move; reportedly, $15 million will be doled out this week.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has been playing a game that worked well for their fellow Randi minions at NYC’s United Federation of Teachers. Just as New York City voters replaced hard-negotiating Michael Bloomberg with union-funded union friend Bill de Blasio leading to a concession-laden new contract in the Big Apple, Randi and PFT hope that November elections will lead to more union-amenable state leadership. PFT has stonewalled negotiations, leading the Commission to suspend the contract.
Now, the PFT and Randi are rallying to abolish the Commission, but rather than making a positive case for why taking cash out of the classroom would help education, the teacher unionists are distracting the public. Their chosen tactic? Bash a conservative group that has hired a handful of canvassers to oppose the union.
That is emphatically ludicrous, as hiring canvassers, bringing in outside political consultants, and paying outside nonprofit groups is an AFT tactical staple. In the 2013-14 reporting year, AFT paid the Washington, D.C. political consultancy S & B Public Solutions (also called Hilltop Public Solutions) $60,000 for various projects, to note just one example.
AFT is also funding outside groups in the Philly schools debate: ACTION United, a successor organization to ACORN (the highly controversial union front network shut down after it was implicated in widespread voter fraud) received $40,000 from AFT in 2013-14 and has participated in PFT rallies. AFT has also funded the “Philadelphia Student Union,” another protest ally, to the tune of $20,000.
Such is the way of politics and union hypocrisy. It’s not the first time that AFT has engaged in hypocrisy to advance local ends (AFT’s use of SuperPACs in Boston’s 2013 mayoral election comes to mind). It probably won’t be the last.