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Blame Rumore; Teachers union creates wreckage, then points a finger elsewhere

When cornered, blame someone else. That's the predictable strategy of the Buffalo Teachers Federation. The teachers union has refused to agree to a teacher evaluation system that has been adopted elsewhere around the state, yet the problem, according to BTF President Philip Rumore, is that State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. doesn't care about children who, Rumore says, King is using as "pawns."

Similarly, Rumore calculates that Johns Hopkins University doesn't like children, either. The university's Center for Social Organization of Schools is also using children as pawns, he said, for threatening to back out of its plans to help turn around Lafayette and East high schools over the failure to produce a teacher evaluation agreement.

Presumably, then, Rumore believes Interim Superintendent Amber M. Dixon also despises children, since she expressed disappointment that the union on Thursday once again rejected a proposal for evaluating teachers. If the superintendent liked children, she would have been thrilled at the union's response. But she wasn't thrilled. Obviously, Dixon doesn't like children.

And what of Samuel L. Radford III, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council? Radford and the parents he represents have been harshly critical of the union's record on this issue. Even the parents hate children.

The State Board of Regents hired King and continues to support him. Clearly, the Board of Regents can't stand children. And, of course, you also have to worry about Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has linked a teacher evaluation system to increased state funding, and President Obama, whose Race to the Top program produced the funding that King is holding up. Everyone but the union is guilty.

Or is there another way to consider this problem? Could it be that the problem lies within a union that accuses the world around it of crimes against children but can't bring itself to accomplish what other unions have done? Is the problem in an outdated style of leadership that manufactures and stokes resentment as a way of maintaining a useful status quo?

The union, after all, is the only entity involved that lacks a legal or parental requirement to act on the behalf of children. Plainly, it takes that role seriously. We don't advocate in New York the kind of assault on public-sector unionism that Wisconsin and other states have adopted, but this is the kind of behavior that incites drastic responses.

This is a gathering disaster. What alternatives are left for students who are going to lose yet another year of education to a dysfunctional system? What about the millions of dollars that are at stake? What about the potential loss of partners like Johns Hopkins? What about the losses to Buffalo as a whole? It's all because the union won't agree to a reasonable process for evaluating teachers. That's the crime.

Ah, but that's King's fault. And Johns Hopkins'. And Dixon's. And Radford's. And the Regents'. And Cuomo's. And Obama's.