Rose-Colored Remembrances of Sandy Feldman's Reign

I didn’t know Sandy Feldman, though I did come within a hair’s breadth of working for her 10 years ago when I was heading to New York City and trying to figure out whether to work for embattled Board of Ed Chancellor Ray Cortines or for Feldman at the UFT. (In the end, I took what turned out to be a very short-lived job with Cortines – maybe not the right decision.)

I assume that those who have described her as smart, honest, and hard-working are correct. The past few days of obituaries and remembrances nearly all suggest as much. Her accomplishments are many, of that there is no doubt. And I certainly share the sense of sadness at her passing.

However, there’s something sentimental and fundamentally unsatisfying about many of the latest accounts of Feldman’s reign, which leave out or discount among other things the failed merger with NEA, the big turn against charter schools, which were for so long the hard-fought compromise between the status quo and private school vouchers, and the demise of several “reform” union leaders who were once considered part of the AFT elite.

This much seems clear: Nearly 10 years after Al Shanker’s death, the AFT is nowhere near where it once was. To be sure, running a teachers union is no easy thing in this day of Wal-Marts and tight budgets, and of the details I know little. But still, if Feldman was as honest and straight-shooting as many have described her, is it right to remember her through such rosy-colored glasses?

AFT's Feldman was true fighter for teachers NYT
Former AFT Leader Dies of Cancer EdWeek
Sandy Feldman, RIP The Doyle Report via Eduwonk


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Blogger Mike Antonucci said...

Someone's spamming your comments section, Alexander.

Anyway, unless you're evil, your obituary won't exactly be a reasoned and balanced look at your life. It's a tribute, and I, for one, am happy to see it that way.

The stuff you're reading is simply de rigueur.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Amerloc said...

LOL - my wife fired up a blog, made a single entry, and got the same spam. I must have my settings wrong, as I haven't got any of it (yet).

But yes, immediately posthumous commentary tends to be flattering. I've had the unfortunate honor of delivering eulogies for a couple of people who have touched my life deeply, and their human frailties kind of fell by the wayside...

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Norm Scott said...

On your mention of Cortines:
I've observed many chancellors (a cast of thousands it seems) in my almost 40 years working in the NYC school system and found Ray Cortines the most decent, child and teacher friendly of all of them. Giuliani's vicious assault on Cortines will not go down as his finest moment.
Norm Scott, Education Notes

4:43 AM  

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