Radio ads and billboards will proclaim just about any message that has been paid for. The placement, whether in a public square or on the airwaves, is like a rented body from an escort service. Industrial psychologists are hired by the ad’s bank rollers and function like wardrobe provocateurs. They calculate how to appeal to fantasy and what will work.
Many ordinary people naively trust that there are laws against playing fast and loose with the truth in public and that if it is legal to say something, especially when blasted far and wide, what is said must have more than a trace of legitimacy.
But these days anything goes, even hate speech, and plastered on a giant frieze in Times Square and maliciously transmitted on morning spots is a lie so vile and deceitful that your readers need to be warned about it because ignoring hate speech does not make it evaporate like a puddle of sewer water like it should. Calling out falsity does not dignify it. It requires the light of day, like Dracula.
The Center for Union Facts, aftfacts.org and Students First are three heads that belong to the same monster. They are funded, either directly with money or through surreptitious “moral support,” by public school-hating, union-bashing billionaires like Rupert Murdoch, the Walton family, the Koch brothers or disgraced ex-city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee. They are the evil geniuses behind the pox of radio spots and the gigantic eyesore poster in Times Square of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
They accuse teachers unions of mollycoddling imperfect educators and thereby being the prime movers behind the frustrations and failures of any local or national educational policy. It is simplistic, simple-minded and not true.
That judgment is as ironic as it is grotesque. Weingarten has been a front-line fighter for enlightened, research-based reforms. She has been praised by a variety of prominent people in the spectrum of debate on the issues, and she has taken a lot of heat at one time or other, on one issue or other, for standing her ground on the fundamental principles of the profession.
Just calling something so does not make something so. Weingarten and her American Federation of Teachers union members hold views that are in line with those of most Americans. They are on the same page as most experts and on the right side of history.
If readers acquaint themselves with the evidence and base their own judgments on what they find, they will take comfort knowing that unionized public school teachers care first and foremost, without making excuses for setbacks or stagnation, about serving children to the best of their abilities.