Campbell Brown of The 74 and Kevin Chavous of the American Federation for Children (and Founder of Democrats for Education Reform) have responded to the decision of all potential presidential nominees on the Democrat side to skip (thereby cancelling) the Iowa Education Summit later this month. Teachers Unions work hard to silence those with whom they disagree and have succeeded momentarily in using their typical strong-arm tactics to disrespect not only The 74 and The American Federation of Children but also the Des Moines Register, a third sponsor of the event. Education is about learning to listening to opposing viewpoints and craft arguments that refute them. It is a sad irony that an organization that pretends to value and even symbolize education has revealed themselves to be opposed to even hearing opinions with which they disagree. As is always the case with bullies, the unions have shown themselves to be weak instead of strong.
Rather than risk having Democratic candidates speak about education reform, perhaps celebrate the teachers unions' positions or perhaps break with the teachers unions (both the NEA and AFT have endorsed Secretary Clinton), the unions maneuvered behind the scenes to actively discourage candidates from participating. This form of bullying is anti-democratic. It diminishes the free engagement of ideas—just as the President said, with those you agree with but perhaps equally important, with those you disagree with. The teachers unions active attempt to undercut an event sponsored by two organizations dedicated to education reform and a highly respected newspaper perhaps says more about the AFT’s and NEA’s weakness than their strength.