Jonathan Chait

Special Ed Teacher Stalked, Harrassed By Right-Wing Creeps

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This is one of the most stomach-churning things I've ever seen. Right-wing pseudo-journalist James O'Keefe decided to do an expose on the teachers unions. So he sent one of his flunkies to a bar after a teachers' conference to buy drinks for a special education teacher named Alissa Ploshnick, and prompt her to dish about incompetent colleagues while secretly recording her. One of Ploshnick's stories was that a colleague of hers referred called a student a nigger" and was demoted but not fired. She was clearly outraged.

Guess what happened? O'Keefe released the recorded, and got Ploshnick suspended for using the n-word. Yes -- the teacher who, in what she thought was a private setting, complained about a colleague using a slur is suspended. Here, per Zaid Jilani of Think Progress, is O'Keefe's video ambushing Plotnick outside her home:

Pretty disgusting, right? It gets worse. Plotnick turns out to be a hero who in 1997 was commended by President Clinton for jumping in front of a van to save her students:

Alissa Ploshnick risked her life to save the lives of a dozen Passaic schoolchildren. She threw herself in front of a careening van to protect her students and landed in the hospital with broken ribs, a fractured wrist, a badly bruised pelvis and glass cuts in her eyes. She could have died.

She still suffers pain from the episode. That's the person O'Keefe decided to pretend to hit on at a bar, secretly record, publicize the recording, and then ambush with a camera outside her home.

Have I completely disgusted you yet? Still have an ounce of belief in the possibility of justice? Okay, here's New Jersey governor Chris Christie discussing the episode:

Christie recently praised O’Keefe’s secret taping of Ploshnick and others and said: "If you need an example of what I’ve been talking about for the last nine months about how the teachers union leadership is out of touch with the people and out of control go watch this video.’’

Asked whether the stories of Ploshnick’s sacrifice and heroism changed his view, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak replied: "What do these stories have to do with recent events? What should they have to do with recent events? They are completely separate and have nothing to do with one another."

He thinks the takeaway from this episode is that the teachers unions are out of control.

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