Anthony Cody writes here about the political power of teachers and how it should be used.

Cody reports on a discussion between Barbara Madeloni of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and Eric Heins of the California Teachers Association at the Network for Public Education Conference last week in Oakland.

Barbara Madeloni believes in the importance of building a movement. It was that movement, working closely with parents that defeated a referendum to expand charter schools in the state last fall.

In California, the powerful California Teachers Association just gave its endorsement for governor to Gavin Newsom, even though he refused to take a position as between the charter lobby and public schools and couldn’t say whether he was for or against teachers.

This is what Newsom said some weeks earlier, in a public appearance:

“I’m not interested in the stale and raging debate about which side, which camp you’re on – are you with the charter people, are you anti-charter, are you with the teachers, are you anti-teacher. I’ve been hearing that damn debate for ten damn years. With all due respect, I got four kids. I have an eight year old, second grade. I have a five, three and a one year old. I’m not gonna wait around until they’ve all graduated to resolve whether Eli Broad was right or whether or not the CTA was wrong. I’m not interested in that debate. I’m interested in shaping a different conversation around a 21st century education system that brings people together, that could shape public opinion, not just here in the state, but could shape an agenda more broadly across the country, particularly in a time of Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump. We need that kind of leadership.”

With views like these, will Newsom remember that he was endorsed by the CTA? Will he care? Is he unsure whether he is for or against teachers? How can anyone who cares about education be against teachers? How can they be bored and indifferent to galloping privatization? It is views like these that laid the groundwork for Betsy DeVos.