Defying the (Union) Boss

Michael Mulgrew should stick to standing in the way of accountability and excellence in the classroom and not slandering police.

It’s no surprise when Michael Mulgrew, the teachers’ union boss, stands in the way of accountability and excellence in the classroom. After all, that’s part of his job description as the head of a status-quo trade union that never met a reform it didn’t disparage.

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But Mr. Mulgrew recently ventured into an entirely new realm when he offered his support—and, by extension, the support of his thousands of members—to Al Sharpton’s protest march on Staten Island. The march was called to protest the death of Eric Garner" class="company-link">Eric Garner, who died in police custody, apparently of a chokehold.

Mr. Sharpton and his allies have every right to protest. But why did Mr. Mulgrew see fit to align his union with a movement that regularly slanders police officers?

That’s the question some teachers asked, and they responded with an eloquent statement of their own. On the first day of class this year, teachers throughout the city wore NYPD T-shirts to class. One group of teachers was pictured behind a banner that read, “New York’s Brightest Supports New York’s Finest.”

Not surprisingly, this didn’t sit well with Mr. Mulgrew. The union dispatched an email warning teachers to knock it off. The union bosses in essence encouraged management—principals—to “report any inappropriate apparel to the chancellor.” So much for solidarity forever. If you’re accused of misconduct or incompetence, the union will defend you. But if you wear an NYPD T-shirt, the union will throw you to the wolves of management.

Despite these brass-knuckle attempts at intimidation, teachers continued their fashion statements during the first week in school. The most poignant protest against Mr. Mulgrew took place at Rocco Laurie Intermediate School on Staten Island, where teachers ignored their union’s warnings. The school is named after a Staten Island police officer that was slain in the early 1970s.

Mr. Mulgrew should stick to stopping teacher evaluations, evading accountability, and keeping incompetent teachers on the public payroll. Luckily, he is not as proficient in carrying out these assignments as he used to be, but at least those are the tasks for which he gets the big bucks.

He’ll get nowhere if he continues to align himself with those who have nothing good to say about members of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Defying the (Union) Boss