Bloomberg Compares Teachers Union to NRA
January 8, 2013 9:30 am
As New York City and its teachers union hurtle towards a January 17 deadline to come up with a new teacher evaluation plan, Mayor Bloomberg expressed his frustration with the union by making a ridiculous comparison on his weekly radio show. Bloomberg likened teachers unions to the outspoken defenders of the Second Amendment, saying that the union’s leadership does not represent the needs and desires of the rank and file teacher.
“Teachers want to work with the best, and most of them are not in sympathy with the union,” he said on Friday. “…The NRA’s another place where the membership, if you do the polling, doesn’t agree with the leadership.”
Both the United Federation of Teachers (which represents most NYC public school teachers) and the American Federation of Teachers have taken umbrage to the mayor’s comments, which came after an ad campaign pointing out that the mayor’s intransigence is responsible for the lack of agreement on teacher evaluation. UFT president Michael Mulgrew referred to Bloomberg’s comments as “completely inappropriate,” and by Sunday a UFT letter to the mayor demanding an apology for the comments had 70 signatures. AFT president Randi Weingarten entered the fray as well, framing the mayor’s comments as particularly insensitive in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
Excerpts of Weingarten’s letter to Bloomberg from Washington Post:
…You know full well that UFT members and other school employees do everything they can to make their schools safe and secure places so that children can learn and thrive. As educators, they take a solemn vow to keep their students safe… That’s why it is so disturbing and beneath the dignity of your leadership to compare educators or their union to the NRA— a group that promotes allowing terrorists to own guns; lobbies state legislatures to allow concealed guns in elementary schools, day care centers and on college campuses; and has worked closely with ALEC on getting 26 state legislatures to adopt shoot-first laws.
The educators, custodians and school secretaries of Newtown are members of the AFT, including three who died or were injured protecting children from this unspeakable tragedy. I have spent several days in Newtown with educators, parents and members of the community since that awful day. One of the first things I did was call the president of the UFT, Michael Mulgrew, on the day of the killings to ask for UFT’s assistance in helping to provide grief counseling to our Newtown colleagues. The UFT was one of the first organizations on the ground to provide these vital services, and the help is ongoing.
Mr. Mayor, we have worked together for many years. We have enjoyed a relationship based on mutual respect and being honest with one another. Whatever collective bargaining differences you currently are facing with the UFT — and during our time working together we had many ups and downs — it is neither appropriate nor responsible for you to compare the UFT with the NRA.
No one has taken on the NRA more aggressively than you, which also is why your radio comments were so disturbing. It undermines the great work you have done on gun safety to draw this comparison. For all these reasons, I ask you to make a public apology.
President, American Federation of Teachers
Bloomberg responded to his critics yesterday, reiterating:
“The point I was trying to make was just like any other special interest group, the leadership of this union is more extreme and more obstructionist than its members,” Bloomberg said on Monday.
It should be noted that the mayor stopped short of issuing an apology.
Image from here