A balance that needs redressing

It’s getting harder to find a nuanced conversation about the Midwestern struggle over collective bargaining, but a recent exchange between David Brooks and Gail Collins of The New York Times gets us closer to a more salient level of dialogue.

Brooks does his best to right-size his colleague, who admits she’s wandered off “to the land of the insanely angry,” but he offers a qualified defense to the Wisconsin governor who started the imbroglio.  “He’s right about the budget issues and the need to restrain pensions,” Brooks said, “but he’s done it in such a way as to force everybody into polarized camps.”

He then directs readers to the Atlantic’s Clive Crook, who identifies a need to trim the supersized influence and power that public-sector unions have exercised over public affairs, but who’s dismayed that the debate in Wisconsin has been cast only as a zero-sum game, a “winner-takes-all” affair:

The question for states and cities is not whether “collective bargaining” is a basic undeniable right, but how much union power in the public sector is too much. Progressives talk as though it can never be enough — or at any rate, that no union privilege, once extended, should ever be withdrawn. Conservative supporters of Walker talk as though public-sector unions have no legitimate role at all. To me, the evidence says that the balance needs redressing.

Of course, our blog addressed perhaps a better way to provide a balance of power: by bringing more, not fewer, voices to the table, at least as it pertains to public education. Either way, Crook is right to address the balance in our discourse as well.

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit