NJEA vs. O’Keefe, who do you trust?
In full disclosure, I am married to a public school teacher. While I've never hidden that fact, it should be stated frankly in case anyone thinks my opinions are hers. They are not.
I've often had problems with the state's largest teacher's union, the NJEA. They are one of the biggest lobbyists in New Jersey's political history. By summer of 2016 they outspent every other special interest group in NJ election spending. In a 15 year period starting in 1999 they spent a whopping $57 million. Add another $5.7 million to that with last year's election. Of course they were at war with Senate President Steve Sweeney trying to unseat him. It didn't work.
I've also always questioned tenure, something that gained our show here in the 90's a reputation for "hating teachers." That of course is ridiculous. Hell, I fell in love with one. The job teachers do, especially today with more and more mandates and less and less support, is a stressful and difficult career to navigate. It's a noble profession and one that most of us couldn't do. The union however has become a political juggernaut and doesn't always adhere to its mission.
So there's no love affair between the NJEA and me.
Yet just like police, firefighters and other public workers teachers should be allowed a union to represent them. When does it go too far? If you believe in the recent undercover videos from Project Veritas headed up by James O'Keefe anyone would agree the NJEA went too far. The fallout from this story can be read here, with word of a legislative investigation into the union. Using people posing undercover the group secretly recorded conversations with local union presidents who were heard seemingly defending teachers who had sex with students or injured students. One said they "bend the truth" to help even "the worst people."
All damning, if you believe it. I have serious doubts because of the track record of the man behind the accusations. James O'Keefe is notorious for selectively editing videos as to misrepresent the subjects' responses and the context of conversations. He has been long known to create purposely false impressions that people said or did things they did not. He is associated with right wing conservatives, but let's not blame all conservatives. Filmmaker Michael Moore has been known to do this exact thing in many of his documentaries and he is about as bleeding heart liberal as it gets.
One of the most damning examples of O'Keefe's love of creating false impressions and doctoring video/audio comes from his attacks on Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. In 2009 he did the same type of thing as the NJEA 'investigation'. When his secret videos seemed to show workers engaging in helping a couple plan criminal activity Congress quickly froze the funds of the non-profit. After an investigation it was revealed that O'Keefe manipulated evidence and misrepresented actions of ACORN workers who had not violated any laws and in fact had reported the encounter to police themselves. O'Keefe issued an apology and agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement when sued over his deception.
So who do you believe? I'm not impressed with New Jersey's number one special interest group, but I'm less impressed with O'Keefe. Perhaps these two are "purrrrfect together."
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