John L. Lewis, leader of the mine workers union.
Maybe it’s the summer heat.
Recently a small group of standardized test critics (which I am, by the way) have declared war on the National Education Association. Not just a war on the leadership, mind you. But on all 3 million members, minus themselves (or at least those that actually are members of the NEA or the AFT).
Even though the national meeting of the NEA RA will produce a basketful of resolutions condemning the use and misuse of standardized tests, these critics want more.
And, really, who doesn’t always want more? Particularly when it comes to resolutions, New Business Items and letters of outrage?
They have issued a threat. Either support their specific declaration and tactics in opposing standardized testing or be prepared to meet our doom: The jubilant eradication (their words) of the 3 million member union to which I belong.
One professor (and this group has quite a few professors) reached back to recall the old labor warrior, John L. Lewis, who split with the American Federation of Labor to form the Congress of Industrial Organizations for a parallel historical moment.
The fact that Lewis was, at the time, a leader of a huge labor union of mine workers kind of kills the comparison in my mind.
But then I was hit like a thunder bolt.
Clearly, I was missing something here.
Since I am not someone who dismisses what might be a good idea out of hand, I sat down and drafted a call to action:
In the spirit of John L. Lewis, I hereby announce the formation of the American Education Federation. I am the chairman, and various professors and parent activists from around the country are the organizers. We will momentarily inform the teachers of America that we have launched this fighting organization which they can immediately flock to, send their dues to, and count on to pick fights with anyone and everyone that crosses our path.
Our first action will be an indefinite strike. We will call this strike as soon as we have signed up at least a dozen working teachers. This will bring the tyrants running our schools immediately to their knees. Just as John L. Lewis had the titans of industry quaking in their boots, so we shall have the Broads and Gates and Duncans running scared. They will immediately capitulate and we will demand the reversal of education reform and the creation of Freedom Schools on every street corner.
Please send me your dues.