Back in January, John Stossel of ABC's 20/20 killed a sacred cow, carved it up, barbequed it, and had it for dinner. He made some not-so-very-flattering comments about public education in a report called Stupid In America. The teachers unions were not impressed.
Protests. Letter-writing campaigns. Denunciations in the union rags. Calls for Stossel to teach for a day because he can't possibly know what he's talking about. You'd almost think Stossel had outright lied. It's not like he said that he hadn't had sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski, or anything. =)
I don't know if this was part of the original plan or not, but Stossel's been writing about education every week now for about a month and a half now. Was this string of essays planned, or are they a response to all the flack he's taken from, primarily from teachers unions? I don't know, but I'm having a hard time finding where he's mistaken. If Stossel made any mistake at all it was in focusing too much on the situation in New York City; even though the lessons are applicable across the country, it would have been better to have picked examples from across the country.
Here are his essays:
except to report the truth. They have no dog in this fight.
The titles of three of the above posts refer to the unions. That should be an indication of part of what ails the education field. I'm currently reading a book called The Teacher Unions: How They Sabotage Educational Reform and Why--and the author's a former union organizer, negotiator, and delegate. Instead of addressing the issues that are brought to light by Stossel's reporting, by the book I mentioned, by the legions of people who opt not to be in a union (in right-to-work states) or who opt out as agency fee payers (like I have to do here in California), the unions merely shout down the opposition and insist everything's just fine, thank you. And why shouldn't they? They're entitled to my money by law here in California; they don't care one whit about me. They're not accountable to me; in fact, the unions aren't accountable to anyone. This point is made consistently, but what's the motivation for the unions to change? After all, they're going to get my money no matter what.
Anyway, I hope John keeps writing on this topic.