Double-Agent Diane

I came across the following correspondence that appears to describe an ingenious plot to plant someone named “Diane” as a double-agent in the teacher union ranks.  Once “Diane” gains their trust, her mission is to rile up an Army of Angry Teachers whose slogan-chanting would become so bellicose and unreasonable that it would undermine the popular impression of teachers as a loving extension of the family.

As I’ve argued before, the teacher unions play a double game.  They put out a public image of being like the doting aunt or uncle who cares about our kids almost as much as (if not more than) parents do.   They know that as long as the public sees the school system as part of the family, they will favor policies that exempt education from the rigors of the marketplace.  People see their families as a refuge from the rough and tumble of the marketplace.  Families are governed by affection and mutual obligation rather than choice and competition.  But in the corridors of power, the teacher unions haggle over pay, benefits, work rules, and autonomy as if they were auto workers, not your favorite aunt or uncle.

The purpose of Diane’s under-cover operation appears to be to undermine that double game and make the self-interested power-grabs by the unions more transparent for what they are.  If teacher unions are not viewed as extensions of the family, people would stop exempting education from their normal expectation that there should be choice and competition in the provision of goods and services.  If “Diane’s” double-agent sabotage succeeds, the image of teachers buying school supplies out of their own pocket and believing in student potential regardless of difficulties would be replaced with the image of teachers demanding benefits for themselves and blaming circumstances for student low performance.

I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this correspondence, but if accurate it sure would go a long way toward explaining what has otherwise seemed inexplicable.

I’ve inserted videos throughout this post that may provide evidence to substantiate the existence of this conspiracy.


Diane —

We commend you on your willingness to accept this difficult assignment.  We know you will have to estrange yourself from former friends and adherents.  We know that you will have to ingratiate yourself into a new network whose company may at times be difficult to tolerate — what with their obvious self-interest thinly disguised by shallow slogans, inconsistent arguments, and indifference to empirical evidence.  But those qualities are precisely the things that will allow you to gain their trust and rile them into a self-destructive frenzy.  Just feed them more shallow slogans, inconsistent arguments, and non-empirically-supported views and they will be like putty in your hands.

There will also be compensating benefits.  We know that reformers have stopped paying much attention to you as they shift focus to rigorous quantitative analyses of  test results rather than stories spun by polemical historians.  But your new teacher union friends will shower plenty of attention on you, as they make no demands for rigor in quantitative or historical analyses and instead judge the merits of arguments based on how they serve their interests.  Your new friends will also shower plenty of cash on you as they invite you to speak around the country at about $20,000 a pop.  Kozol and Kohn have earned a summer home or two doing this, so don’t let anyone tell you that advocating for public education is not financially rewarding.  Of course, if you are successful in this mission, your efforts will undermine the effectiveness of their advocacy by making it seem extreme and self-serving.  If you succeed we will reward you even more richly.

Good luck in your efforts!

–The Pentaverate

The Pentaverate —

It has been some time since you sent me on this deep-cover operation, but I am pleased to report that our plan is progressing well.  I’ve launched a blog on Education Week as a platform for my sabotage.  I’ve written a best-selling book whose arguments are so weak that a grad student could pick them apart in a few blog posts, but which is like catnip to our target audience.  I’ve recruited Valerie Strauss, a previously normal and respected journalist, to join our efforts at agitation.  And most importantly, I’ve developed a following of 17,307 on Twitter to whom I send about 70 missives a day.  I just get the ball rolling and then my followers write the craziest stuff, which I can then just retweet with the plausible deniability that I wasn’t saying it.

For example, I retweeted a message from Gary Stager describing Bill Gates’ view that education can overcome poverty as “Sad, pathetic, ignorant, dangerous, genocidal, wrong.”  Genocidal!  That’s gold.  That weak Jay P. Greene just says that the Gates Foundation has a flawed strategy, but I have folks saying that Gates and anyone who believes that poverty is not immutable is advocating genocide.  If stuff like that doesn’t undermine teacher union credibility with sensible people I have no idea what will.

In short, as you have requested I have assembled an Army of Angry Teachers and, like Pogo, they have met the enemy and they are it.  Last weekend we marched on Washington for the Save Our Schools (SOS) rally, which should reveal the nuttiness of my Army to policy and opinion leaders nationwide.


Diane —

We are very proud of your efforts and admire your heroism is fulfilling the unpleasant task of mobilizing angry teachers into a fevered state.  For that work the members of The Pentaverate have decided to award you the Keyser Soze Medal for Excellence in Deception.

We are, however, a bit disappointed with the SOS Rally.  You only managed to get 2,000-3,000 people to show up, which makes your army seem like a distinct minority of all teachers (which it probably is).  We did, however, like your transparently false description of the rally as the spontaneous outpouring of a grassroots movement, even though it received half its roughly $100k funding from the teacher unions and another quarter from donations by you and Kozol (we will reimburse you for those expenses, just like before).

We liked your speech, particularly the part about how education policy should be made by educators, not by policymakers.  Of course by that reasoning energy policy should be made by energy-producers, not policymakers and tax policy should be made by accountants and lawyers.  Again, these flimsy and shallow slogans/arguments are doing a great job of undermining the teacher union cause.

We were also pleased with Kozol’s lecture.  He’s still rehashing the same stories he acquired from spending a few weeks with poor kids several decades ago, but his slightly slurred and irate delivery gives it just the right touch of insanity.  Even Kevin Carey had to comment that Kozol is “edging into deranged preacher territory.”  Excellent work!

Still, the small crowd was very discouraging.  We know that you couldn’t control the fact that there was a debt crisis going on at the same time, but we are worried about your success at convincing opinion and policy leaders of how representative and unreasonable the Army of Angry Teachers really is.

–The Pentaverate

The Pentaverate —

I appreciate your concerns.  It is true that we only managed to get CNN and the HuffPo to cover our rally while the rest of the media ignored us.  But we did get Matt Damon to speak at the event.  He’s always so eloquent.  I’ve attached a video of his speech below.

We will redouble our efforts and I assure you that by the time I am done with this Army of Angry Teachers, they will have thoroughly discredited the teacher unions.


14 Responses to Double-Agent Diane

  1. Alsadius says:

    Too weird.

  2. […] (published on Tuesdays).  For now, I encourage readers to take a look at Jay Greene’s brilliant (and slightly unorthodox) assessment of the […]

  3. flbusbaby says:

    I am not even sure what Jay Greene is rambling about in this article. I traveled from Florida to participate in the Save Our Schools March in Washington, D.C. of my own accord. My husband and two grandchildren accompanied me. We listened to speakers, including but not limited to Diane Ravitch, that shared our concerns about public schools and then marched around the White House with our signs and were chanting slogans about the public school situation. Pedestrians and motorists we passed were very supportive, cheering us on. The opposing Syrians groups by the White House stopped railing against each other and joined our chant “Save Our Schools” as we passed by them.

    The teacher unions were not involved in this action until the eleventh hour. Although they assisted financially, there was little to no encouraging their members to attend. A few local unions around the nation did assist their members with travel costs. But even that was rare. I have no idea the number of teachers in DC, but was told the National Park Service estimated approximately 8,000 as the total for the day. There were also rallies in other locations around the country taking place in support of the DC March. Some communities worked together to fund one representative in DC. Teachers do watch their money and we are STILL purchasing school supplies for our students. No news there. 🙂

    I am not sure what Mr. Greene is trying to accomplish with this article. I guess there was no drama from our SOS Conference and March, so he tried (unsuccessfully) to liven it up with his own writing. But it simply seems to me that he is treating public school families callously and disregarding valid concerns. Please listen to other reports of the March and speak to actual classroom teachers before you finalize your opinion of the value of this Saturday’s March in DC and the concerns the teachers/advocates/families were voicing! Thank you.

    Donna Mace

  4. Sandra says:

    It seems as though Mr. Greene has undergone some type of recent conversion from a signer of the counter-manifesto to a supporter of the administration’s initiatives: common core standards, common core assessments and national student longitudinal database.

    The tactic of going personal, and in particular with Diane Ravitch, is commonly used by supporters of this administration’s education reform policies.

    • Sandra — You are mistaken. Opposing the SOS rally does not make one a supporter of all of the administration’s initiatives. Nothing I have said reverses my opposition to national standards, curriculum, and assessments.

      • Sandra says:

        Sorry Mr. Greene, but your post repeats the standard narrative of personal attack by Ed reform advocates aligned with RT3 initiatives and lacks substantive comment on the initiatives themselves, which were commented on in the March. You may be unaware or uninterested in the loss of credibility by ignoring or trivializing those who are consistent in opposition to those elements I pointed out. I am not a teacher, no children nor grandchildren in school, but I am a taxpayer and a community member. I stand with the parents and local control. I have no idea where you stand.

    • Grumpyelder says:

      Think I’m with Donna Mace at least on part of this..Jay Green sounds like he’s trying to put together a forth rate novel..

      I’m a hobbit, so I felt Diane Ravitch could have done a more effective job of tearing apart RTTT if she’d approached it from an economic and Constitutional standpoint. — Also making it very clear that there’s some very rich people behind the reform movement. Several of them stand to get a lot richer if Obama’s scheme isn’t stopped.

      Ravitch is an educator, and she chose to present the situation to a audience of mostly teacher, from an teacher/educator’s point of view. That doesn’t make her a turncoat..she spoke to her audience. Not the way I’d have done it.. but it was her speech.

      Sandra’s correct, going personal, rule #13, has been a tactic of the Obama Administration since the beginning. so much so when I see it used with a couple other of Alinsky’s tactics I automatically think “Obamabot”, Given the way Green attacked Ravitch I understand exactly why Sandra said what she said,

      As far as creating the impression her Army was making unreasonable demands—–the only unreasonable demand on anyone was making the audience stand in the sun listening to Kozol.. Hell with 8000 people there you probably could have gotten a well known hobbit possibly even one of the GOP hopefuls– In case no on checked several of them are strongly opposed to RTTT

  5. Greg Forster says:

    So nobody at SOS went personal? Wow!

    Or were the SOS speakers who went personal also supporters of the administration agenda?

  6. Sandra — if you have no idea where I stand you obviously haven’t been reading this blog much. I think I make my views pretty clear.

  7. susan says:

    “A billion dollars per student?”
    “Sure, why not?”
    Love that.

  8. Greg Forster says:

    Grumpyelder wrote: “Ravitch is an educator.” Is she? Her title is “research professor.” Does she teach?

    Just wondering. Personally I don’t think “educator” status entitles people to special, priviledged status, but others seem to (and that sometimes leads to unexpected embarrassment).

  9. Grumpyelder says:

    Let me see if I’m understanding Greg, a new teacher.. a few months out out of college with a little classroom experience qualifies as a educator…

    But you are not sure someone who has worked in and around education for fifty years qualifies? A person who’s written at least twenty books on the subject, received quite a few prestigious educational awards and been appointed by two United States presidents as an Assistant Undersecretary of Education.

    If it was just the political appointments, but it’s not. As for the status that comes the the title of “educator” or “teacher”– like most titles, The title and four bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks

  10. anon says:

    Michael Klonsky linked here with the claim that Jay Greene is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute along with Charles Murray, which is not only an irrelevant ad hominem but is wrong as to both Greene and Murray What a dumba**.

  11. Mister says:

    …”don’t let anyone tell you that advocating for public education is not financially rewarding.”

    Yeah – Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp, and Rupert Murdoch have that figured out.

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