I’m not sure who it was that AFT leader Leo Casey had in mind when he argues against those who say we should only talk to those who agree with us.
Who said that?
For starters, I talk with our board, and have done so in negotiations for over two decades, and we don’t always agree.
I even talk to Leo.
And I know that those of us who criticized the AFT for inviting Bill Gates to their convention last year didn’t do it on the basis that we should never talk to those who we disagree with. That’s a straw man that would make Dorothy proud.
And it wasn’t as if Gates only became outspoken in his anti-teacher pronouncements after AFT President Randi Weingarten warmly welcomed him to the AFT convention and mocked her members who walked out of the hall in protest.
But, while it’s a little late, it’s not too late and it’s better late than never.
Teachers and teacher unions have not sought out this class warfare. To the contrary, the American Federation of Teachers made an effort to establish a dialogue with Bill Gates, inviting Gates to address our last national convention in Seattle. This overture had its critics, but it would be a serious mistake for unions to talk only to those who agreed with us. By the same token, we need to be honest about the results of our efforts at dialogue: Gates has become outspoken in his anti-teacher pronouncements. There’s not much left to discuss when he assumes such a posture.