Thursday, July 09, 2009

Least Surprising Headline of the Week

From a blog post by Mickey Kaus; Everybody Hates the Teachers' Unions Now.

What spawned this headline is a report from the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights on the struggle to implement education reforms, thanks to teachers' unions seeming to thwart the process every step of the way.

Kaus concludes his post with this paragraph:
The report follows up a much heralded establishment call for reform in 1996 that was endorsed by two union presidents. But it notes that in the twelve years since, "few of the necessary reforms" have been put in place. ("Twelve years--the entire length of a child's education--is a long time.") In other words, it implicitly serves as an argument against trying to reform the schools in cooperation with the unions, and in favor of trying to reform the schools by defeating the unions. ...
That seems like a good plan to me. As I've said in the past, I"m no fan of unions in the first place, and that sentiment grows exponentially with regard to professions. And teaching is a profession, not a trade, so I've never quite understood why people would want to treat it like a trade. Professions shouldn't have unions, and my best argument for this comes in the form of a question: When's the last time you saw doctors go on strike? My answer would be "never," and that should be the way that teachers conduct themselves.

(And if you're wondering how I, as a musician, have avoided the union issue....well, the answer is that I've simply never joined. There was one time in college when I was playing a lot of society gigs, and there was a chance that I could have gotten more of them if I'd joined the union. but I was always waiting for the point when the money I would be making would outweigh the dues and be enough to convince me to go against my beliefs and join. And yes, I consider music to be a profession as well, and let me reiterate: Professions shouldn't need unions.)

As I've said here many times, I'm a big fan of the productive class (especially in contrast with the unproductive class and its ugly subset, the parasite class). So my big problem with unions in this context is that their very existence helps make people in the productive class less productive by demanding things that people should really be earning, or not, on their own merit. If the teachers' unions really are hindering necessary reforms because such reforms would make things less cushy for their members (or, more likely, the union leadership itself), that is wrong, and it would be wise for teachers to jettison such "representation" and get down to the task at hand. And it's worth noting that, if my "administrators must teach" proposal ever got adopted somewhere, that place would have no need for a teachers' union, because the so-called "management' would also be part of the "labor" force.

(I should mention that some of the report's suggested reforms seem to imply an over-reliance on standardized tests, something which I do not favor, but that's another post for another time.)

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