Bob Braun covered education for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey for fifty years. He retired from reporting, and now he writes one of the best blogs in the nation.


And this is one of his best. He explains that he supports teachers and he supports the teachers’ union, and no one pays him to do it (as critics charge). Those who hate public schools can’t believe that anyone would defend them unless they were paid to do so. Those who hate unions can’t believe that anyone would side with them unless they were paid to do so. They are wrong.


He writes:


I do support unionism. I grew up in a family–two families, really, but that’s a long story not appropriate here–that owed their middle-class status to unions. My father was a railroad engineer and a union member. My step-father was a teamster and a shop steward. They made good salaries that allowed them to buy decent homes and afford vacations–only on their salaries. I believe the inexcusable income inequality from which many suffer today is a direct result of the collapse of the union movement.


So, yes, I support unionism–for private and public employees, including teachers. Teacher unions have helped many urban residents achieve middle-class economic status and that translates into better lives for their children. I do not believe it is a coincidence that corporate reforms that have led to school closures, Teach for America, charter expansion, and other changes have come just at a time when many persons of color finally got good, secure jobs as teachers and other public employees. Yes, I do believe many so-called “reforms” are aimed at African-American school employees.


One deranged blogger–a suburban school board member from Lawrenceville–has called me a “loyal union lackey.” Recently, she quoted none other than a paid charter supporter from Montclair–and former spokesman for the disgraced Cami Anderson–in her continuing rants against me. I am an outsider, they say, because I live in Elizabeth, a city that abuts Newark and is a hell of lot more like Newark than either Montclair or Lawrenceville.


I have been accused of “working” for the union. Readers will note I have one advertiser, a neighborhood restaurant that is almost a second home to me. Both the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) have offered to buy advertising on this site. I have refused to accept those offers for the very reason suggested by the lying criticism of me–that I would express support for these organizations only because I was paid to do it. No, my friends, this blog doesn’t make any money–whether I have one reader or, as happened last spring with my coverage of Pearson’s spying on New Jersey students, 1.5 million. Bob Braun’s Ledger is brought to you primarily by my Social Security and well-earned pension checks.


People who are motivated by money can’t believe that anyone is different from themselves. Bob Braun is different. He writes what he believes, not because he is paid.