Sunday, March 31, 2013

Education Reform and Teachers Unions

These words are absolutely true:
Our idea of education reform isn’t to take teacher union membership away and leave teachers exposed to the power of uncaring, rigid bureaucracies. Instead, we want to use concepts like charter schools and school vouchers to give good teachers the chance to build cooperative and community schools where a reputation for excellence ensures a stream of students.

By acting like teachers are the problem or the enemy, education reformers often make their goals harder than they need to be. We don’t like teachers’ unions, but it’s not because we hate teachers and want them to suffer. It’s because the unions are part of what’s wrong with the system: They are the biggest defenders of the bureaucratized, by-the-book system that has stifled many teachers and made it difficult for them to do their jobs as they see fit.

We understand the appeal of unions to teachers. We understand why people under the rule of bureaucrats, who are ultimately responsive to big city political machines, would want to have their own representatives as the table. But we think there are ways to decentralize the whole system, to give teachers more autonomy and ground their evaluations more deeply in the views of their peers and local communities, while also giving parents more choice.

It’s not the teachers we want to disempower but the bureaucratic machines that seek to control them. Sadly, teachers’ unions have become a key cog in that machine. Pointing this out isn’t anti-teacher, it’s pro-teacher, and that is an important distinction for education reformers to make.
If only there were an organization out there that would empower California teachers....


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allen (in Michigan) said...

Looks like you've been spammed, Darren.

As to the post, yeah, pretty much agree although I don't think the author has quite as strong a grip on the salient factors as he ought.

Teacher's unions are creatures of the district system and without a district the economics of organization start to fall apart. Teachers may have perfectly valid reasons to want to access the monopolistic power of collective bargaining but what's that to a union? Nothing.

If it costs more to support the function of a union then the union takes in in dues then the local goes away and key to the viability equation is the size of the bargaining unit. Districts package up lots of teachers in neat, easily-organizable bundles.