Few outsiders knew anything about Karen Magee before the head of the state teachers union ousted a predecessor considered too willing to compromise and immediately escalated the public war against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers.
Since Magee took over last April, New York State United Teachers has:
• Funneled millions of dollars into legislative campaigns across the state to influence lawmakers who would ultimately decide on teacher evaluations;
• Changed the makeup of the Board of Regents, including ousting Western New York’s longtime pro-reform representative; and
• Gone head to head with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is pushing for tougher evaluations for teachers.
NYSUT has long been influential in state politics. But Magee, who is in Buffalo this week for the union’s annual convention, has raised its public profile and the level of confrontation, blazing an assertive public awareness campaign spanning all mediums, from television ads to social media.
Before we take any victory laps, let us note that
- Magee and NYSUT may have funneled millions of dollars into legislative campaigns, but they lost all but one of them
- Magee and NYSUT may have helped change the makeup of the Board of Regents, but we still don't know if that will have much (or any) impact on policy going forward.
- Magee and NYSUT may have gone head-to-head with Cuomo on evaluations, but they lost that battle - completely and utterly.
Magee and NYSUT may have raised their profiles and level of confrontation, but they haven't won any battles.
Yes, it's possible that NYSUT added some heft to the op-out movement by throwing support to the movement very late in the game, but the truth is, there were going to be a couple of hundred thousand opt-outs this year whether NYSUT supported the movement or not.
So call me cynical, but I'm not ready to run a victory lap with Magee and NYSUT yet.
I'd like to see them actually, you know, win something first.