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Steve Breen uninvited to speak to students after anti-teacher union cartoon

Steve Breen's Eduction Cartoon
© Steve Breen

A recent cartoon depicting California’s teachers unions as pirates by Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune, got him uninvited to speak to students at Sunset View Elementary.

Hot Air blog writer, Ed Morrissey questions what that teaches the students who were expecting to hear from Breen about his job as an editorial cartoonist.

However, even with that in mind, the snub of Breen is ridiculous. What did they want Breen to discuss with the students – how to suck up to special interests and not rock the boat in order to achieve success? He’s a political cartoonist, for Pete’s sake. He takes political positions every day, and given the political action of the teachers union in California and everywhere else, they should be the last people to get hypersensitive about that.

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
December/8/2008
@ 8:41 am

Wouldn’t that have been a perfect opportunity for teachers to call him to task over the cartoon? All they have accomplished here is making Breen out to be the victim and reinforced the negative stereotype the right wing has made of the teacher’s union.

#2 Paul Fell
December/8/2008
@ 11:31 am

There those darn teachers go again. Will they never learn their place in society?

On the other side of things, right before the election it was discovered that the U. of Nebraska’s Education Dept. had invited William Ayers to speak on campus. This is the William Ayers who headed up the Weather Underground in the 60s. He has since gone on to establish a distinguished career as an educational researcher and is a respected author in that field. THAT’S what he was going to speak about at UNL, not bomb-making.

Well, since the McCain campaign had already tried to demonize him, and by association, his supposed relationship with Obama, the right-wingers in Nebraska went ballistic. There was a great hue and cry against having Ayers on campus, alleged phone threats were made, big donors allegedly threatened to pull their financial support of the University, a member of the Board of Regents screamed for the invitation to be withdrawn, and every 2-bit politician, led by our dimbulb governor and publicity-hungry attorney-genral jumped on the bandwagon. The University President and Chancellor got a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, and citing “security concerns” forced the Ed. Dept. to withdraw the invitation. So much for academic freedom and offering the students diverse viewpoints.

That was okay, though. It was the right-wingnuts protecting our youngsters from the real and present threat of actually hearing someone whose views differed from the party line. Oh, and by the way… Ayers’ visit was to have been privately funded.

#3 Mike Sieber
December/8/2008
@ 12:44 pm

So, what have we learned from the left-tards so far children?

When the left does something stupid; blame the right.

Brilliant!

#4 Mike Witmer
December/8/2008
@ 12:50 pm

That’s a virtual tennis match that has been going on for ages. Left blames Right, Right blames Left. Nothing gets fixed.

#5 Paul Fell
December/8/2008
@ 12:55 pm

Actually, it’s all Jimmy Carter’s fault. Or maybe we can blame somebody who’s dead.

#6 John Cole
December/8/2008
@ 1:26 pm

Public employees unions are a huge problem in CA, as they are here in PA. These unions exert leverage that their private counterparts can’t, namely that they play an active role in choosing management (i.e. elected officials) and the states, cities and school systems can’t up and relocate to right-to-work states like corporations.

Oh, and they don’t take kindly to criticism, either. As Steve’s case demonstrates.

#7 Beth Cravens
December/8/2008
@ 1:59 pm

It teaches the kiddies to be subservient, that it’s not ok to speak your mind or have an opinion of your own.

#8 Wiley Miller
December/8/2008
@ 2:05 pm

“Oh, and they donâ??t take kindly to criticism, either. As Steveâ??s case demonstrates.”

That’s what I’m talking about. This was a perfect opportunity to challenge someone in media about perpetuating their negative image and perhaps change his mind… and vice versa. Instead, they’ve only made themselves look that much more strident and unwilling to listen to anyone with an opposing point of view. Not exactly what education is supposed to be about. Operative word here, of course is “supposed”.

#9 Rich Diesslin
December/8/2008
@ 3:39 pm

What Wiley said (both times)! I agree it could have been a great opportunity for some dialog. Too bad it ends up being an opportunity lost (or is it a stereotype reinforced?).

#10 John Cole
December/8/2008
@ 4:42 pm

“Not exactly what education is supposed to be about. Operative word here, of course is ‘supposed’.”

Public employee unions are about protecting their own interests and pensions. I don’t like writing that, but there it is.

#11 Lucas Turnbloom
December/8/2008
@ 5:11 pm

“Thatâ??s what Iâ??m talking about. This was a perfect opportunity to challenge someone in media about perpetuating their negative image and perhaps change his mindâ?¦ and vice versa”

Perhaps I’m missing something — at what point during an ELEMENTARY school assembly would it have been appropriate for a teacher, principle, lunch lady or janitor to call Steve out on his anti-Teacher’s Union cartoon?

IMHO, doing that would have “reinforced the negative stereotype” more than canceling his talk.

The local SPJ and Press Club has debates like this quite frequently on a variety of subjects. Perhaps that would be a more appropriate forum for Steve and some teachers to go at it, instead of doing it in front of children.

#12 Lucas Turnbloom
December/8/2008
@ 5:15 pm

I shouldn’t have said debates. Discussions would have been more appropriate.

#13 Wiley Miller
December/8/2008
@ 6:24 pm

“Perhaps Iâ??m missing something â?? at what point during an ELEMENTARY school assembly would it have been appropriate for a teacher, principle, lunch lady or janitor to call Steve out on his anti-Teacherâ??s Union cartoon?”

Good point. And it makes the decision to un-invite him that much more perplexing as he would have simply been talking about cartooning at the assembly, not policy.

#14 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
December/8/2008
@ 6:41 pm

What is even more curious is Breen’s depiction of the California state government as an affluent oil tanker!
A more accurate portrayal would have been to have the corporate pirates, the public pension fund raiders, the clueless politicians, and miscellaneous institutionalized thieves throwing the teachers overboard; from a SINKING SHIP!

#15 Paul Fell
December/8/2008
@ 6:47 pm

I agree. The kids in an elementary school probably don’t look at editorial cartoons, anyway. When I do school programs I show a few easy-to-understand editorial cartoons and the rest of it is more along the lines of humorous illustrations and cartoon characters.

I ask the volunteers to come up the easel and write a number. I then develop the number into a cartoon character. As a finale, I ask the principal and maybe one or two teachers to come up and pose for a caricature. That’s the big hit of the program.

Betcha a buck that’s the kind of program Steve was going to present. And probably for free, to boot.

#16 Daryll Collins
December/8/2008
@ 7:18 pm

From the teachers I know, and I know plenty, public schools have really become snow globes of hypersensitivity. Especially in the last 10 to 15 years. Let’s not discuss issues, just eliminate any possibility of discerning thought.

Problem solved.

Sorry, but they live in an insular world and do not like being challenged on policy.

#17 Stacy Curtis
December/8/2008
@ 11:02 pm

It’s the children at the school who were hurt by this, not Steve.

#18 Lucas Turnbloom
December/9/2008
@ 12:31 am

Agreed Stacy. BTW, you’re illustrations are fantastic, bud.

#19 Phil Wohlrab
December/9/2008
@ 1:26 am

Is this the same crowd that doesn’t want to use red ink when grading because it would be too critical or emotionally damaging to the children? It would explain a lot.

#20 Mike Peterson
December/9/2008
@ 5:33 am

“From the teachers I know, and I know plenty, public schools have really become snow globes of hypersensitivity.”

True, though I don’t think private schools are much less so — just that some are hypersensitive about different things.

Also, the power structure in schools allows for certain key people to be foot-draggers. You probably remember the faculty mafia from your own days — those teachers who ruled the roost and could make life miserable for kids they didn’t like. What you might have missed then was that they do the same thing for their colleagues. In recent years, they’ve lost a little power, but they’re still there.

At one paper where I did educational services, we were locked out of a school district because we had covered a case of a teacher who sexually assaulted students. A key member of the faculty mafia objected and it was years until we got back in, basically when I took over the job. Once I got into the place, I found out most of the faculty considered him a blowhard and were happy to work with us. My predecessor had simply been afraid to confront him. But there’s no time for end runs in a quick-response situation like this and I’ve been knocked out a couple of times on the momentary fit of pique.

Come to think of it, once was over a political cartoon. I spent an hour with the superintendent, then was invited to talk about political cartoons to the juniors and seniors — on the condition that I let them grill me on that one.

#21 anne hambrock
December/9/2008
@ 6:17 am

I highly doubt this decision was made by a teacher. More likely an administrator or union higher up.This oversensitivity issue is not a problem restricted to our education system – how many items have we read here about editorial cartoons ticking people off and editors caving to the demands of whoever was offended.

The real problem here is that, in this day and age, as everyone scrambles to keep their jobs, their circulation numbers or whatever, the “I’m so offended crowd” has way more power than they should.

This sounds less like a case of “I’m so offended” as a case of “I bet a lot of people WILL be offended so I better pull the plug now”.

#22 PhilWohlrab
December/9/2008
@ 12:02 pm

I don’t know anything about teachers or auto unions but I was in a union at the grocery store. It was totally unnecessary. If the union went on strike, people would walk around the strikers and go shop for food. The store could train an ape to take money and bag groceries. All the union did was take money out of my pay check , and keep a few degenerates who belonged in jail, from getting fired. They couldn’t even fight for your job if you stole from the store, so essentially their whole operation was worthless.

Why do some say they are a “proud” union man? What is so great about being apart of a union? I never felt like a proud union man behind my cash register.

#23 catsue
February/18/2009
@ 10:39 pm

Why would a POLITICAL cartoonist speak to little kids? This seems more like a High School thing.

Teachers work very hard and have to deal with psycho parents, illegals, and kids that don’t behave (because the baby daddy is in jail).

However, the union is scum.
Del Mar Union, as are all the districts in California, has a SEVERE budget crisis. So what does the union do, they gave all the teachers a 3% raise. Well now there is not enough money in the budget so they will have to lay off some.
SMART!

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