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Unions, Hackers, and Genitalia Tweets! Oh My!

At six years old, I’m probably a little too young to take classes on detailed human anatomy. Fortunately, the Douglas County Federation of Teachers (DCFT) recently stepped up to the plate to help me learn this important material. Always thinking of the kids, those folks.

As a healthy reminder that the teachers union holds the moral high ground in education, DCFT’s official Twitter account sent out the following tweet during one of Dougco’s District Accountability Committee meetings. The tweet references an elementary school teacher who happened to be speaking at the meeting.

Ahem. Let’s just allow that to settle for a moment.

Admittedly, nasty jabs from the union and its vocal supporters are not uncommon, and especially not in Dougco. But this level of vulgarity is rare. Usually, these folks have enough good sense to simply imply something ugly rather than saying it outright. Or, if they really, really have to say it, they do so through anonymous Twitter accounts like this one.

In this case, however, DCFT apparently wasn’t able to restrain itself. Why? I don’t know. Maybe all those years of not really being a union have dulled its political senses. In fact, we really ought to be calling DCFT an association rather than a union because it has no collective bargaining agreement with the school district.

This innocent observer suspects the burning desire to once again be a big, scary teachers union may explain the organization’s sudden uptick in nastiness. But DCFT insists that its merry band of union… erm, association… supporters would never say such an inappropriate thing. Clearly, the organization says, its Twitter account was hacked! This obviously left the organization no recourse but to delete its entire Twitter account, which it did shortly after this whole thing became a story.

No, really. I’m not just being snarky. That is actually DCFT’s defense. On the scale of convincing excuses, I’d place this explanation somewhere between “the dog ate my homework” and “I was under the influence of mind control.”

Dougco Board of Education President Meghann Silverthorn is similarly unswayed by DCFT’s limp “Weiner defense.” (It’s okay to laugh–a little double entendre never hurt anyone.) She points out the painfully obvious fact that the tweet–and the numerous, less inappropriate tweets that followed it–referenced specific things happening with specific people in a specific meeting. That makes it seem rather unlikely that some random outside hacker commandeered DCFT’s Twitter account and, by pure coincidence, managed to accidentally compare a specific teacher in the district to male genitalia.

But maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe there really is some tremendously talented, malicious hacker out there who has a keen interest in making unions around the state look bad. In fact, maybe that hacker has developed the type of mind control abilities I derided above. How else might one explain these mysterious hand gestures by Jeffco’s PTA president during that district’s ugly battle? Or the lies sold to voters (which turned out to be even more blatant than even I originally thought) during last year’s recall election?

Fortunately, American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten has promised that she will “review” the incident. Her decision comes after receiving a letter from Meghann Silverthorn and Dougco BOE Vice President Judy Reynolds expressing their disgust with the tweet and calling on AFT to terminate its local representatives and leadership in Douglas County.

Of course, the chances that this “review” will be fair and thorough—or that it will happen at all—seem low given the fact that Weingarten’s response goes on to say “there are many acts of the Douglas County School Board that I have found hurt children, parents, educators, and the broader community.”

Then again, maybe her letter just got hacked…