I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist.
When they locked up the Social Democrats,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat.
When they arrested the trade unionists,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist.
When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.
“Unfortunately, this hasn’t been very easy to do in New York – or in many other cities – because of inflexible union work rules. and let me suggest one promising idea: Congress can use the power of the purse to withhold funds from districts that fail to take meaningful steps towards reform.
What inflexible union work rules?
The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), compiled a searchable database of the teacher contracts in the fifty largest cities in 2006. They have just released a new report entitled Invisible Ink in Collective Bargaining, lo and behold, teacher contracts throughout the country are largely silent on those odious, but invisible work rules. Those so-called union-favorable work rules, says the Report, are imbedded in State laws across the country, not in teacher contracts.
Teachers as individuals are powerless, teachers as members of democratic labor unions have power. The power to vote, the power to advocate for policies, the power to change, the power to create legislation.
The ideologues of the marketplace and their billionaire friends have the dollars to lobby, to fund “think tanks,” the power to influence, they abhor the power of the ballot box.
Bloomberg is appalled that teachers, that third grade teacher in the Morrisiana, that kindergarten teacher in East New York, that high school teacher in Ozone Park, can, through their union, thwart the power of one of the wealthiest men in the nation. For Mike, the carrot is the answer to poverty.
The assault on teacher unions masks the source of educational stagnation. The gap in achievement reflects the gap in income … children of the poor are, in all too many instances, lacking early interventions, are condemned at birth.
David Brooks, in his column in the NY Times points to current research,
…. high school graduation rates peaked in the U.S. in the late 1960s, at about 80 percent. Since then they have declined.
In “Schools, Skills and Synapses,” Heckman probes the sources of that decline. It’s not falling school quality, he argues. Nor is it primarily a shortage of funding or rising college tuition costs. Instead, Heckman directs attention at family environments, which have deteriorated over the past 40 years.
Heckman points out that big gaps in educational attainment are present at age 5. Some children are bathed in an atmosphere that promotes human capital development and, increasingly, more are not. By 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy, who will complete high school and college and who won’t.
The Obama education program emphasizes early childhood education, and rejects the imposition of market based solutions, i.e., imposed merit pay.
The invisible hand of Adam Smith, the cold, cruel world of the marketplace, with economic determinism as guiding force is the “answer” for the today’s neo-robber barons.
Journalists who blithely blame teacher unions for the ills of schools are hiding their heads in the sands of time. There will come a time when those same journalists will be the subject of the arrows of the economic plutocrats.