The Washington Post

How some ed reformers really work

It’s not often that we hear education reformers bragging in public about how they got the better of a teacher’s union. But in a video can you find here, Jonah Edelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Oregon-based nonprofit education reform organization Stand for Children, talks about how he and his organization maneuvered to get education reform legislation passed in Illinois this year, snookering union officials along the way.

The video shows Edelman on a panel that took place at the recent Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival.He discusses efforts to get Illinois Senate Bill 7 passed, which in its original form sought to severely limit teacher union rights in the state and linked student standardized test scores to teacher evaluation.

Edelman explains how he got union leaders to go along with the legislation, which passed a few months ago, and he calls it transformational and a national model. The legislation that finally passed, however, was not nearly as tough as he makes it sound.

The reason the video is worth watching is because the details behind the campaign are fascinating and reveal how some modern school reformers work politically behind the scenes.

The video of the panel was posted by Fred Klonsky on his blog, giving it enough visibility to prompt Edelman to send to Klonsky a remarkable apology in which he says he was sorry that he sounded so arrogant.

Here’s the apology on Klonsky’s blog.

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Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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