"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Sunday, May 2, 2010

On the Record

I really didn't mean for this to become a political blog, but Gov. Christie has forced teachers into the political spotlight. Just wanted to confirm, that yes, this letter to the Editor appearing the Record today is written by me.

Among friends, I would like to note a corollary to what I said in the letter: the NJEA completely bungled the politics of the pay-freeze proposal. The union is now being pushed farther and farther out on the ledge of intransigence and its position is rapidly becoming untenable to the public.

Approaching this situation as a negotiator, one can always sacrifice a negotiated benefit, in this case, an annual pay raise. There is no law that says you can't give up something, no matter what it cost. But the wise negotiator makes SURE to GET SOMETHING IN RETURN. So instead of saying, "absolutely no pay-freeze never never never" holding its breath until it turned blue and kicking its legs in the air, the NJEA should have said, "Hmmm, interesting. Pay-freeze. What do we get for it? What will you GUARANTEE US IN WRITING we will get in exchange for forgoing a raise? How about promising no teacher lay-offs? Guarantee to save jobs and we will give up our raises. That's a fair bargain."

Now, of course, the governor can't promise that. Head counts are the province of local school boards and municipal governments. And everyone knows that. BUT the politics of the matter would have put the Governor on the defensive. It would have put it in his court to do what he could to offer the teachers some compensatory benefit--be it saving jobs or whatever--in exchange for the teacher sacrifice.

Instead he demanded something he couldn't get and couldn't enforce and began dictating terms of surrender for a war that hadn't yet been fought.

Both the governor and the union may get an A in Drama, but they get an F in problem-solving.

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