Ron Isaac’s Commentary: Rebuttal!

May 11, 2020 by

It’s clear from retired Clerk Steve Danko’s letter  to The Chief-Leader, that he has a hard time concealing and controlling his hostility to education in this city. Perhaps it’s due to personal experience or some form of arrested development. 

He lauds the NYPD and lambastes the DOE.  That is not necessarily baseless.  Many teachers would agree that the DOE’s bureaucracy is dense and malignant.  Certainly its direction and priorities are deserving of legitimate and sometimes withering criticism.  No doubt there are imperfections in the operations of law enforcement also.

If he stated that the NYPD delivers to the taxpayer a better “bang for the buck” than does the DOE, much of the public, including educators might agree. But his demeaning tone suggests he has a score to settle. An ulterior motive. A grudge.

What taints Danko’s convictions and prompts suspicion, is that his adoration of the NYPD and loathing of the DOE is not based on an articulated estimation of the comparative performance of the two agencies, which may or may not be fair. Instead it is a tone of  implicit attack on performance of teachers and the importance of the work they do is dirty pool. 

It is an over-the-top imbalanced judgement. It is visceral and unsophisticated. It sounds like he’s just trying to shake a monkey off his back that’s ridden him maybe since his own varsity days.

Whatever his fantasy is about education and law-enforcement, it is a conception without credibility because it is raw emotion without finesse or fact.

It’s an “apples and oranges” argument where the fruit is rotten with contention.

There is a saying, “Don’t confuse the war with the warrior”. It is used to distinguish between soldiers caught in the firing line between their government’s orders and an unpopular and wasteful military conflict. A similar relationship exists between education policy-makers and the troops in the classrooms.

Danko demands not only that the NYPD not shoulder its share of budget cuts, but that it be altogether immune.  Not content with an inequitable distribution of sacrifice, he calls for unlimited slashing of public money for education, ceding and then redirecting these funds to the NYPD, so that it benefit literally at the expense of our students.

The teaching-learning bond is sacred. It is a holy function. The surest guarantor of peace and public order is the government’s discharge of duty to deliver access to quality of education for all youngsters.

That’s not a truism.  It’s the truth.

Danko demands the hiring of additional police officers even as many thousands of educators jobs are at risk. Anyone who disagrees with him are “radical leftist progressive ideologues”.

There is a sensible and almost unbroken rule that the City’s public sector employee not assail their brothers and sisters in other unions, at least not openly, because it plays into the hands of our common enemies. It’s a tactically sound kind of “professional courtesy”.  

If there are rivalries among unions, they normally agree not to make a public spectacle of them.  It’s either solidarity or cannibalism.We don’t air  dirty laundry, especially when what our extended family wears is clean.

Although Danko exempts himself from this tradition, the rest of us remains voluntarily bound by it.

He laments the annual attrition rate of police officers, without hinting at the prime reason for this phenomenon. It is a pension and disability system that is the envy of the world.  We don’t begrudge it.

In all our history, a strong, smart and united labor movement has never been more critical than now.  We cannot indulge or endure schisms. Nor can we tolerate them.   Let’s act accordingly.

Ron Isaac

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