Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back from the great blogger beyond....

Apologies to those reading in blogger-ville, I sank into a post- RA melancholia and really saw nothing worthy of blogging about. While at the RA, I received an email from a fellow who stumbled upon my blog, and he asked me a pretty good question. I told him that I would respond when I got back and promptly forgot to do so. He sent me an email a few days ago and rekindled my desire for blogging.

In his email, Stephen asks:
I have read a few blogs that lambaste Teacher's Unions and I'm trying to
understand the pro-union side of the topic. It seems important to me that
teachers' rights be protected, and it also seems that unions are
consistently demonized - these portrayals seem unrealistic and
oversimplified. But I'm having a hard time finding a comprehensive,
well-articulated pro-union argument, but I know it's out there.
Well, first let me give you the traditional anti-teacher's union argument, so that I can debunk it. (Note: this is not something that I truly believe in, I'm just summing up everything I've heard.)

  1. Teacher unions are simply parasites that live off of the lifeblood of their membership, providing enormous salaries, perks and benefits for a privileged few.
  2. While the need for labor unions during the industrial revolution was very real, that was quite a long time ago. Union membership has been declining for almost thirty years; only 12% of America's workers are currently unionized now.
  3. They alienate their membership by using dues money for political purposes, causes and candidates that their rank and file may or may not endorse or even vote for.
  4. They protect the jobs of bad teachers who are either incompetent, evil or both. They protect and entrench layoff policies and procedures that leave the older, less motivated teachers within a schools system while amputating the newest, youngest most vital teachers.
  5. On the national level, they manipulate statistics to make the public believe that the country is in a midst of a teacher shortage; if only teachers were paid more, they say, then we'd have to beat them off with a stick.
  6. Indeed, teachers' unions and their ilk are quite possibly one of the biggest impediments to change within the American educational system, hurting the very people they are supposed to protect-- their students.
So now I've laid the argument out there. I figured I'd respond to what I said. I'll do that tomorrow.

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