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Heroic N.J. teacher was sacrificed for political cause in hidden video

By FZ - Posted on 15 November 2010

By Bob Braun-

Nov. 14, 2010- 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.

The president of the United States, Bill Clinton then, sent her a letter. It read:

"I recently heard about your act of heroism and wanted to commend you for your selflessness. True heroes are rare in today’s world. And, all too often, those who are really making a difference in our communities go unnoticed and unrewarded. I am delighted to be able to give you the recognition you deserve. You are an example for all of us, and I applaud you for your sense of duty.’’

But that was then, in 1997. This is now.

Now, the veteran Passaic special education teacher has been smeared in a sneak attack video, punished by her school district and made a pawn in the relentless anti-union crusade of a governor who apparently wants to ride his Jersey tough guy image to the White House.

"I felt like I was raped,’’ says Ploshnick referring to the moment she learned that what she thought was a private, even flirtatious, talk with a "nice" young man who bought her drinks was really part of a political scam to discredit her union in an web videotape called "Teachers Gone Wild.’’

Teacher who was suspended for remarks in 'Teachers Unions Gone Wild' video speaks out

Saving children’s lives, risking death for them, wasn’t enough to earn a pass from political incivility.

Nor was a solid record over a nearly 20-year career during which she was cited by William Paterson University for training student teachers and by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s dyslexia program for her "fine record of experience," "strong interpersonal skills" and "dedication to learning." She says she spent $9,000 of her own money on school supplies for her students, made sure a child in her class made his dental appointments by bringing him there and was just asked to be a godparent to the child of another student.

"Give me a smile and say hello and I’ll do anything for you,’’ says Ploshnick. "I’ve always done it. It’s hard to reteach your heart and your brain.’’

Ploshnick, 38 and single, was unlucky enough to be hit on in an East Brunswick bar in August by a young guy working for pretend journalist and admitted criminal James O’Keefe, the conservative attack dog who pleaded guilty to federal charges of entering a U.S. senator’s office under false pretenses. He is on probation. He also tried to embarrass CNN recently by setting up a planned, taped attempt to seduce reporter Abbie Boudreau. It failed when one of his operatives tipped Boudreau off.

O’Keefe’s operative bought drinks for Ploshnick and began asking about tenure. Ploshnick talked about how difficult it was to fire a tenured teacher. She said some things she shouldn’t have said. She quoted someone else as having used a racial obscenity, the so-called "n-word."

But the phony Lothario sitting with her — plying her with drinks and laughing and egging her on — taped her every word. Including that word.

O’Keefe made Ploshnick, a teacher who saved the lives of children, an unwitting star in a web-based movie, a phony exposé of nothing but the cynicism of ideologically driven pseudo-journalists. All O’Keefe managed to do was ruin the reputation of a woman who should be honored as a hero — and was, not only by Clinton but also by Montel Williams and Oprah Winfrey, a fan of Gov. Chris Christie’s.

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."

"I think it’s so unfair that I should be in the middle of this,’’ says Ploshnick. "I’m not the monster I’ve been made out to be.’’


Mark Crispin Miller
Progressive Democrats of America