In addition to the important revelation that MCAS’s Regina Tuma is behind AssessmentGate, the public records release of Michelle Fine’s emails provides a unique opportunity to understand how MCAS and the MEA have built their operation to attack and oppose the school district. We’ve reported before on Fine admitting that MCAS was serving as a proxy for MEA’s organizing work, but these emails show in even greater detail the way that they coordinate with the unions and Sean Spiller to push their political agenda.
The new records that we’re detailing today show some of the extent of that. We’ve just picked out a few emails to keep this from being too long, but its reflective of the close coordination evident throughout.
In one email in October of 2014, New York union operative Maia Davis (name is redacted but visible) and Michelle Fine email about coordinating an event in Montclair. In particular, they’re curious about getting funding from the NJEA, and ask if maybe their close friend “Sean” would help them get NJEA funding for their activism (that would be Sean Spiller, who definitely doesn’t have any conflicts of interest in voting on the BoSE…):
According to the email, they sought to have NJEA fund the event rather than MEA, to help shield MEA during upcoming negotiations. The familiar discussion about Spiller (and other email communications between him and Fine about PARCC, as well as this here blog) make clear that they are close allies.
In another more recent situation, Fine and Christine McGoey discussed an event that they would eventually host in February for the movie “Standardized.” In the email, McGoey askes if MCAS will want to sponsor it (and notes the lack of diversity at their event), or if it should be left to MEA/NJEA:
They also assigned someone to smooth out the MEA’s role, but that redaction is a bit difficult to read through.
Fine replied, saying that MEA/NJEA can’t be out front on this, and instead they “have to b mcas on movie,” and provide them with the front:
There is also a disturbing bit of tokenism in her discussion of having Belvin be a speaker, especially given the previous comment. Rather than focus on the opinions he might present, she’s solely focused on the optics of having him on stage.
There’s a lot more of that sort of thing in the emails as well, and frankly it makes Fine’s approach to issues of racial equity look a bit political rather than sincere, but we’ll leave that aside for now.
Rather, the main issue in these emails included here is the clear evidence of the way that MCAS – despite presenting itself as an independent grassroots group – is serving as the “out front” arm of the unions in their fight. When they don’t want to attach their name to something (say, an attack on PARCC), they use MCAS to carry their water. Rather than being an independent group, they’re clearly a proxy for the agenda of the MEA and NJEA. Rather than being interested in what’s best for kids – a subject almost never mentioned in any of the emails – they’re interested in their own political agendas.