If there is one article of faith among contemporary ideologues of the right, it is that competition solves all problems. For every issue and for every problem, an unfettered, laissez-faire market is the solution. Nowhere can one find this dogma more faithfully followed than on the editorial page of the New York Post.
Except when it is a competition from a teachers’ union.
Take the question of charter schools. The editorial page of the New York Post went apoplectic at the thought that the UFT might sponsor two charter schools, and that those schools might demonstrate the educational power of a school founded on principles of teacher professionalism and democratic governance. A series of editorials were launched against the UFT charter school application, in ever more strident terms. The climax of the effort was a not-so-veiled political threat against two prominent Republicans on the authorizing agency, the SUNY Board of Trustees, who have aspirations for state-wide political office. The application was accepted, and the UFT elementary charter school will be opening its doors for the first time in a few weeks. [We can't provide links to the whole season series of this editorial soap opera, for the earlier episodes are no longer free on the web, but see the season finale here.]
Competition in charter schools was the epitome of educational virtue, except when it was extended to the UFT.
Today’s New York Post editorial page contains an editorial denouncing this humble blog. If Andy Warhol was right, it looks like our 15 minutes of fame is coming fast.
The complaint is that our blog contains the disclaimer, on the bottom right hand corner, “The views expressed here are not necessarily the official views of the UFT, New York State United Teachers or the American Federation of Teachers. Anyone who claims otherwise is violating the spirit and purpose of this blog.” This disclaimer, the editorial proclaims, means that the UFT is not taking accountability for its views.
Of course, anyone with the slightest passing familiarity with the operations of a blog understands that they are “in time” operations, with quick responses to current events and debates. In short, they preclude the sort of careful deliberation and broadly based decision making that a democratic union like the UFT employs in developing official union positions. The function of our disclaimer is to make the distinction between what we do here, on the one hand, and the official positions of the UFT, on the other hand, quite clear.
And the author of the New York Post editorial knows this to be the case, although he chooses not to let his readers in on that fact.
Don’t take our word for it. The author of the editorial, Ryan Sager, has his own blog, Miscellaneous Objections. We read it often, because it brings a smile to our face every time Ryan quotes one of his editorials, without letting on that he wrote it, to support a point he is making. I guess this is the latest form of post-modern self-referentiality that us older folks, caught in the paradigm of providing logical arguments and evidence to support a position, just don’t get. And on Ryan’s blog there is a, well, disclaimer. It reads: “Ryan Sager is a member of the editorial board of The New York Post. (The views expressed here in no way reflect the views of The Post.)”
So there you have it. A little competition in the blogosphere getting to you, Ryan?