My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


This Is What I've Been Saying

But Terry Moe managed to get it in the Wall Street Journal.

The subtitle tells you what you really need to know: Unions Don't Have Children's Best Interests At Heart.

Here's a quick excerpt:

The problem is not that the unions are somehow bad or ill-intentioned. They aren't. The problem is that when they simply do what all organizations do--pursue their own interests--they are inevitably led to do things that are not in the best interests of children.

Now, insofar as that goes, I have no problem with that. That, after all, is capitalism: each individual or group engaged in the legal struggle to promote its own self-interests. The problem I have is that the unions tend to hold themselves out to the public--with little dissention--as the best advocates for schools and children. And this is simply fallacious. Be what you are, but don't pretend to be what you aren't.

And, as far as it goes, why the heck does that assertion so often go unchallenged?

The best litany from the piece is this one:

The unions are opposed to No Child Left Behind, for example, and indeed to all serious forms of school accountability, because they do not want teachers' jobs or pay to depend on their performance. They are opposed to school choice--charter schools and vouchers--because they don't want students or money to leave any of the schools where their members work. They are opposed to the systematic testing of veteran teachers for competence in their subjects, because they know that some portion would fail and lose their jobs. And so it goes. If the unions can't kill these threatening reforms outright, they work behind the scenes to make them as ineffective as possible--resulting in accountability systems with no teeth, choice systems with little choice, and tests that anyone can pass.

Keep this in mind as we watch the Democratic-controlled State Legislature this session.

UPDATE: on the same page is the OJO editorial about the response Mr. Moe's column inspired last week when it ran in the dead-tree version. They go even farther:

Far from refuting Mr. Moe, the AFT's letter barrage proves his point. Teachers unions have become the largest single barrier to better American schools, and the political system needs to find ways to reduce their destructive influence.

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