If you were to ask me what has been the biggest change in the education climate over the last 15 years, I would have to say that the two sides battling over education reform no longer coincide with the two political parties. In 1997 it was rare to find a Democrat who would publicly say an unkind word about teachers’ unions and the rest of the education establishment. Today you could argue that those Democrats are the party’s mainstream and reach all the way into the White House.
This is causing a lot of agony on the left, where in many places you can find Arne Duncan, Rahm Emanuel and even President Obama placed in the Axis of Evil hosted by the Koch Brothers and Scott Walker. The consternation over this turn of events prompted In These Times to seek out the latest savior of old-timey unionism, Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union, and ask her such penetrating questions as “Why do people seem to have so much trouble with democracy?”
Still, Lewis’s answers are worth paying attention to, because they reveal that everyone is having trouble with democracy. Democracy requires accommodating, in some way, people whose opinions differ from your own. Lewis states that even CTU wasn’t democratic – that is, of course, until her slate was elected.