Friday, August 3, 2012

Are you a supporter of sexual predators?

Guest post by Cross posted at 
Are you a supporter of sexual predators?  
We can all agree that that is a ridiculous question to ask, yet, former journalist Campbell Brown did just that in her Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled, “Teachers Unions Go to Bat for Sexual Predators.”
It gets worse.
A Twitter argument began. Brown and UFT President Randi Weingarten fought over Brown’s failure to disclose that she is the wife of both a Mitt Romney political advisor and a board member for Students First NY. Both well known entities that do not support teachers unions.

Weingarten then accused Brown of having taken her stance because Brown’s husband is a Republican. Meanwhile, Brown continued suggesting that teachers unions are supporting sexual predators.
I injected myself (@zakmal) into this spat Tweeting:
“You’re all acting immature. No one supports sexual predators. Period.”
Brown responded:
“You may not feel this affects you directly, but it is [a] big deal to the victims and families. [This is] an important change worth fighting for.”
This response frustrated me. I replied:
“I never said it doesn’t affect me. This Twitter fight is not constructive and isn’t doing kids justice.”
Students First NY joins in by Tweeting that they agreed this Twitter bickering was senseless.
Next I asked, “So are we going to end this now and focus on the students?” In a response, they said that this issue is about students. My final follow up requested that Students First “Take [the] lead,” considering their claim that they are putting students first.
I got no response.
Respected educator Chris Lehmann wisely shared, “There is arguing to learn and there is arguing to win.” This was an argument to win.
Melvin Hydleburg, 17, a rising senior at Robert H. Lehman High School said at the New York Education Reform hearing at CUNY Hostos on July 26, “We have gotten caught up in the finger-pointing game.” He went on to say, “We are simply too content with placing blame. Why don’t we step back and realize that a failure for one party is a failure for all parties?”
Failing for all parties
This idea was played out beautifully in a Twitter smackdown.
  • Brown approached our failure to protect students in an inappropriate and unprofessional manner.
  • Weingarten failed to respond in a way that maintains the pride of the teaching profession.
  • Students First NY got involved in what was a clear publicity campaign by bashing Weingarten in a mass e-mail.

Rather than working to empower students, teachers, and parents to fight against the egregious acts of a few, these high-profile Tweeters spent the day arguing to win. That sounds like something an angry ex-girlfriend or boyfriend would do. Let’s leave “winning” Twitter fights to the angry ex’s. Protecting our kids, our students, from the horrendous acts of child predators is where we should want to focus on winning. Otherwise, the only losers will be our students.

Zak Malmed is an 18 year old student who is sick and tired of seeing these “adults” fighting for us. He is also a student organizer for


  1. Good post. Two things:
    1. You are right that educators need to arise above this partisan bickering and unite with students to advocate for the best possible education system. We cannot achieve such a system without a deep respect for student voice and action that rises above adultism.
    2. I disagree that everyone is against sexual predators. It is material to this issue that StudentsFirst front person Michelle Rhee has intimidated students and teachers to prevent them from coming forward to address her husbands sexual predator conduct toward his students as a charter school principal. Our society DOES support sexual predator behavior in many cases, and like the Sandusky case has taught us, we must be sure that the predator's high public profile does not lead us to enable this sociopathic behavior toward children.

    1. Both excellent points, but it serves well to know that WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and this is the typical sort of baiting that many of his media outlets use on a regular basis. This used to be a respectable publication, now it's running content better suited for the NY Post.

  2. Excellent and timely post - I covered this story in June. Here is a link to my post that contains a number of stories about teachers (mostly women) who feel into sexual relations with students. I think there is an opportunity here for teachers' unions to gain some gourd with public opinion.