Watering down Milquetoast

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Jamie Vaznis in today’s Globe presents a bombshell:

The state’s second-largest teachers union organization, which represents teachers in Boston and other big cities, has decided to boycott Massachusetts’ application for the Obama administration’s innovative educational fund, possibly jeopardizing $250 million in grants.

Massachusetts lost points on its Race to the Top application because it only got buy-in from about 2/3 of the local teachers unions. In the first round of RttT, the state application received support even from key federation units.

While it is devoutly to be wished for, the Obama administration is wrong to insist on union buy-in. Unions may not be the buggaboo they are often made out to be – often the superintendents are worse enemies of reform. That said, no one can say that unions have led the reform fight. They haven’t – and to get their support you have to water down reform. If you succeed in advancing reforms, the unions make you defend them at every turn.

This is a kick in the teeth to the administration’s application. Reversing the AFT Board’s vote will require pouring more water into an already milquetoast application.

That Caspar Milquetoast reminds me of a certain state education official…