On sacrifices, legacies and roundhouse kicks to red tape

Three (more or less) similar conclusions on the state of public-sector unionism and the future of public education from three very different commentators:

David Brooks at The New York Times : “The sacrifice should be spread widely and fairly … Trim from the old to invest in the young. We should adjust pension promises and reduce the amount of money spent on health care during the last months of life so we can preserve programs for those who are growing and learning the most. So far, this principle is being trampled. Seniors vote. Taxpayers revolt. Public employees occupy capitol buildings to protect their bargaining power for future benefits negotiations. As a result, seniors are being protected while children are getting pummeled. If you look across the country, you see education financing getting sliced — often in the most thoughtless and destructive ways. The future has no union.”

Ezra Klein at the Washington Post: “The prospect of firing tens of thousands of teachers is bad enough. But, as a chilling report from the New Teacher Project explains, about 40 percent of the nation’s teachers work in states where their contracts don’t allow administrators to take performance into account when making layoffs. That is to say, they cannot try to lay off the bad teachers while saving the good ones. Instead, they’re forced to use the ‘last-hired-first-fired’ mechanism. The newest teachers get the pink slip, no matter how good they are. This will turn a crisis into a catastrophe. And let’s be clear, it’s the fault of the teachers unions. That’s not just a problem for schools, children, taxpayers and teachers. It’s also a problem for the labor movement as a whole. Americans don’t care what most unions are up to. But Americans do care, a lot, about what their child’s teacher is up to. And if they think that teachers unions – which are public-employee unions, for the record – are standing in the way of good schools and good teachers, then their verdict will be much worse than ‘not an institution of the future.’ They will see unions as hurting our future – and their children.”

Chuck Norris (yes, that Chuck Norris): “I fully know and believe that the majority of public-school teachers and principals are dedicated and highly qualified. I know some. But I also know that more often than not, even their hands are being tied by bureaucratic red tape, federal and state regulations, and teachers unions’ special interests, agendas and contracts. By and large, teachers are good, but government regulation and teachers unions are a menace and impediment to real public education reform.”

Avatar photo

BY Adam Emerson

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