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Monday, February 23, 2004

Links Between Al Qaeda and John Dewey?

Education Secretary hates teacher's union.

You know what? He's right. The teacher's union is likely the most pervasive organization currently in politics in the United States. They are the main, if not sole, driving force behind the manufacturing, assembly-line mentality which has plagued public schools for the past fifty someodd years. The focus on education and the schools are built now to accomidate career teachers, people who don't want to be fired no matter how poorly they perform, and who feel they, and not the students, are due the bulk of the expenditures of the cash-strapped districts. They limit the ability of teachers who actually do care in order to keep standards lower for the rest of them - and the second anything is done which begins to encroach upon their precious little domain, the unions jump on it.

They tout educational reform, yet flex their political muscle whenever anyone tries anything new. You cannot make the argument that a tech high school ought to have the same hiring requirements and the like as a regular school. Moreover, by trying to enforce national standards for everything from salary to benefits, they end up screwing over both the poor districts - who are unable to lower class sizes by hiring more teachers because of the artificially set pay levels - and the districts where the cost of living is higher - who are forced to compromise on unnecessarily low levels of pay. Moreover, it prevents districts from having flexible salary levels. There's no reason an individual hired to teach for a school shouldn't be able to waive health insurance in order to get more pay, if that's what they want. There's no reason why experiments in learning should be stifled becuase the bureaucracy forbids it.

Here's a novel idea - if you want teachers to have more money, and you believe that they are currently not getting enough to live on, don't force them to pay a significant percentage of their paycheck to a nonvoluntary organization. Especially when these costs are artificially high by supporting a national infrastructure, rather than keeping unions relatively local, independant cells. On top of this, the amount of money which goes into lobbying and funding candidates for relatively little political capital in return? You could possibly give that back to the teachers. Or you could give it to districts which are currently underfunded. There are about fourty million better uses for the raw capital that the various unions have access to - if they actually cared about education.

You know what, though? I don't think they do. The union isn't there to actually improve the quality of schools in the country. It's there to strongarm local and state governments into pouring money into the school system in such a way that it lines their pockets. It's not some poor teachers who would otherwise be prevented from working at a fair wage - it's a political junta. And the people who are hurt are the ostensible beneficiaries of these self-made martyrs: students. The one thing which is harming the quality of education in this country more than anything is the teachers unions.

More damage has been done by these unions disallowing flexibility on a local level for education, by destroying the quality of public schools, then has ever been done by a terrorist group. The systematic problems plaguing our society on practically every level - from social discrimination within the school system as a whole, to racism as a result, to the cycle of poverty - can in some way be traced back to the failing school system. So before the NEA president threatens to sue the federal government for what can, at the very worst, be called a poor turn of phrase, maybe they should consider if there's some merit to the Education Secretary's meaning.

cranked out at 10:11 PM | |

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