Union stranglehold vs. Dr. Evil
If you think teachers unions are the problem when it comes to education reform, this new website is for you. Launched this morning by the Center for Union Facts, which is backed by a D.C. lobbyist who's been called "Dr. Evil" (more on him in a minute), the website "features original, previously unreported research about the union's stranglehold on America's schools" and aims to "educate Americans about how teachers unions protect incompetent teachers, demoralize good teachers, block reform, and ultimately hurt our public education system," according to a press release.
The site doesn't include much info about Florida, but Pinellas union chief Jade Moore gets prominent mention in a section titled, "Blocking Education Reform." The reference is based on a quote from Moore in a 2005 St. Petersburg Times story about merit pay for teachers.
The new site's launch is part of a bigger campaign which includes an ad blitz and a "Ten Worst (union-protected) Teachers" contest (complete with promises of a 7-story billboard going up in Times Square). And it's not going off without a ruckus. The headline on a dueling press release from the pro-union American Rights at Work refers to Dr. Evil, a.k.a. Richard Berman (shown above), and proclaims, "Cynical Attack on America's Teachers from Corporate Hack." Meanwhile, a written statement from the president of the American Federation of Teachers calls Berman "an ethically challenged attack dog" and a "shameless lobbyist who has shilled for pesticide, alcohol and tobacco companies."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter (Photo from USA Today 2006 article)