The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


February 26, 2006


Threat of Teachers Unions

Neal Boortz made a bold statement on his show the other day. He said “the teachers unions are a greater long-term threat to freedom and prosperity than Islamic terrorists”. I’m guessing he came under some fire for that one, because the very next day, he was talking about it again. He said he’d given it a lot of thought, really examined the implications of his statement, and stood behind what he said.

Now, that’s a pretty strong statement, and one that I agree with. Before you all think I’m crazy, I point out the words “long-term”. In the short term, conflict with Islamic terrorists is a direct threat to our freedom and prosperity, and one that needs to be taken very seriously. On the bright side, however, it is one that we’re taking very seriously. We understand the stakes in the conflict, and we are determined to defeat the terrorists. Furthermore, as the Islamic world begins to liberalize and democratize, the threat will diminish significantly on its own.

But the threat of the teachers unions is considerably different. Only a minority of people consider them to be a threat in the first place. Most people in this country think that the unions have education of students as their primary goal, when it is obvious to anybody paying attention that they act in the interest of teachers, often to the detriment of students.

They fight any implementation of standards or testing, because they wish to resist accountability. They fight every program that will increase educational choice for families, because it will lead to a reduction of their bargaining power. They wish education to be handled at the government level, because the government is much easier to lobby and fight than a distributed network of privately-managed schools.

They push endlessly for two specific goals, higher funding and lower class sizes. Higher funding will directly increase teacher salaries. Lower class sizes create a need for higher and higher numbers of teachers, essentially forcing shortages. Hence: higher teacher salaries. It keeps going. They push for a requirement of a “teaching credential” before they push for a requirement that teachers are experts in their subjects. They want to make sure that bright, knowledgeable folks with teaching talent are not allowed to teach unless they have a teaching “credential”. What does all this amount to? Like any cartel, they seek one thing above all: to remove competition. Lower class sizes and credentialing requirements ensure that existing teachers have a strong bargaining position when the union fights for more benefits.

But the biggest problem eclipses all of the above. Their threat to our freedom is not that of newsworthy attacks on human life, but the incremental destruction of human individualism. Boortz explains it much better than I do, when he points out the fact that the government is the actor in our world that we give a monopoly on the power to initiate force. That is an awesome power, and its application must be feared and curtailed whenever possible. But the people we ask to teach our children feed at the trough of government! You will never teach children to fear the application of government power by sending them to government schools. When the teachers unions are helped by a greater concentration of power– as that gives their lobbying much more effect– they will by design support greater government power. And where government power increases, human individualism recedes.

The teachers unions benefit greatly from a public that believes in the idea of collective action, be it union action, government welfare, or simply the “world community”. They benefit greatly from the idea that kids fit into cookie-cutter molds, and if one dares to exhibit individuality, they should be immediately muted with high doses of ritalin. The teachers who benefit from power in government, from keeping children from growing up to question teachers unions, and who prefer the orderly medicated classroom to one that they must keep orderly by inspiring and motivating students, are doing damage to the very fabric of this country. They are creating a nation of citizens who don’t question authority and who don’t have a love of truth and learning. Even worse, they’re creating a nation of citizens without the tools (i.e. logic) to understand the very forces pulling on the levers of their psyche. A nation filled with that sort of citizen is doomed to rot from within.

What will happen if the current situation is continued to exist? What will happen if teachers unions, who have the public on their side (after all, everyone loves and reveres teachers!) continue to stifle competition and standards? Well, I would argue that we’re already seeing the effect, in the inability of schools in much of the country to turn out graduates with a meaningful diploma. I’ve said before that I moved to Georgia partially for the schools, but that is because I moved to an area of Georgia populated by concerned parents who demand accountability from the local schools. Where I moved is somewhere that I might not be ashamed to send my future children to public schools. But my community is an exception in this state, where the schools lag behind the rest of the dullard states in this nation. The situation is bad here and across the country, and it is getting worse.

The teachers unions are not in the slightest bit interested in fixing the problem, except to the extent that it keeps their necks off the chopping block another year. Much like politicians, the status quo is more than suitable for them as long as they don’t awaken the sleeping giant that is the American public. To beat them, we will need to shine a light not only on the results of their actions– the absolutely atrocious education that children in our schools are receiving– but on the fact that the teachers unions are the root cause behind those results. Unions in this country have long received unjustly favorable media treatment, and everyone loves to be on the side of teachers. But unless we can point out the specific ways that teachers unions are harming our children, we won’t stand a chance of beating them.

I’ll be frank. Terrorists setting off a nuclear device in a major American city are a more pressing concern for me over the next 10 years than the actions of teachers unions. But assuming that we can avoid that nightmare scenario, I worry greatly about the world my children will grow up in if we can’t find a way to fix the problem those unions have caused.


The Unrepentant Individual linked with My Favorite Teachers
Committees of Correspondence linked with Carnival of Liberty 34
Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 9:13 pm || Permalink || Comments (6) || Trackback URL || Categories: Uncategorized

6 Comments

  1. Carnival of Liberty 34

    We get this week’s Carnival of Liberty off to an excellent start,

    I hope you will enjoy the efforts that I have had the honor to present

    Trackback by Committees of Correspondence — February 28, 2006 @ 11:34 am
  2. [...] Posts My Favorite Teachers Ruining it for Everybody Carnival of Liberty XXXIV Anti-Unrepentant E-Mail Used up one of myFifteen Minutes Threat of Teachers Unions Dell to offer Linux OS Sick & Evil Friday Will California sign on to RoHS? A Literal Need for a Cluebat The Toilet Paper That Broke the Camel’s Back Who Needs Math? Romantic Dinner Who Benefits Most From AMT Reform? I’d Like to See This… [...]

    Pingback by The Unrepentant Individual » My Favorite Teachers — February 28, 2006 @ 11:21 pm
  3. Included in the Carnival of the Vanities this week at http://www.cigarintel.com/agency/archives/000832.php

    Comment by M — March 1, 2006 @ 12:37 am
  4. Teacher’s unions more dangerous, long term, than Islamic terrorists? Anyone putting forward such nonsense is not to be taken seriously. Oh, one might argue, and no doubt they do, that the ability to warp children’s minds as the automatons represented by the teacher’s unions surely must, is ultimately deadly to society, but if a given student is dead, that point is rather academic, isn’t it? And if the Islamists suceed, then all of our children–those not dead–oops! Only boys!–will be educated in madrassas where all they’ll do is memorize the Koran in Arabic and spout hate for the infidels of the month. Even the NEA pales by comparison!

    Unions are valuable in that they can protect the reasonable rights of teachers against cruel and arbitrary punishment. They can secure reasonable compensation for what we all call one of the most vital jobs in America, a view seldom supported with dollars or respect. They are valuable in they they tend to force policy makers to actually listen to those who do the work and have the knowledge–teachers–in a time when it’s fashionable to utterly ignore and denigrate them.

    Unions are destructive when they go beyond the protection of due process and obstruct necessary discipline and reorganization. They are destructive when they do not bargain in good faith. They are destructive when they, like the NEA, do not listen to their members, adopt policy positions that have far more to do with contemporary and transitory political correctness than education, and do not allow teachers to elect union leaders.

    There are no easy answers here, but Mr. Boortz, with whom I often agree, is engaging in just a bit of hyperbole.

    Comment by Mike — March 1, 2006 @ 10:17 pm
  5. Actually, I think you give the teacher’s unions too much credit. Not only are they not on the side of students, they don’t much care for the teachers they perport to represent either. In most places teachers are unable to opt out of the union and are forced to pay substantial dues in order to obtain employment. Obviously, this violates notions of free association. Even more than that because groups like the NEA spend most of their money on political issues which have nothing to do with teaching (abortion anyone?), many teachers are essentially forced to contribute money to political causes which they find very objectionable. Anyone who thinks that the NEA is concerned with teachers or students really needs to take a look at their financials and see where the dues money goes. Huge amounts go toward large salaries for the bigwigs, politics and various activist activities (often completely unrelated to education) while very modest amounts go towards contract negotiations and such. If one thinks that the teacher’s unions are protecting teacher’s freedoms, just ask the average teacher how much freedom they have in they way their do their jobs. While the NEA has been sucessful in stifling competition, they have done nothing to keep most teacher’s jobs to being little more than trained monkeys who have little say in how they do their work. By and large, teachers unions really are vile groups who are quite happy to destroy our culture from the inside.

    Comment by Rebecca T — March 2, 2006 @ 1:38 pm
  6. This post makes sense. Teacher unions are among the few powerful unions left in the country. They are involved in politics: they mobilize their own members, organize parents and usually lobby for funds for inner city schools.

    Most parents in suburban schools are content with their schools. Class size is low, extracurricular activities, teams, parking and classes that aren’t too challenging. Middle class kids have the skills to get good grades on SAT exams, especially with tutoring.

    Inner city schools are overcrowded, resources are inadequate, building frequently old and a chronic lack of funds. High drop out rates and a dead end education are commonplace. Let’s be real: some body gotta pick the strawberries!! Someone has to clean our houses. And we need jobs for the lower middle class whites!!! If we keep our prisons full we need guards – keeps everyone happy!!

    We have a nation out there to emulate. China has figured it out!! Unions are government figureheads – the masses work for the benefit of the elite. The closer we come to weakening independent unions, to emulating China the better chance we have of maintaining our life style. As black and Latino population increase we have to be wary. We can’t allow them to ever get too much power – it will be at our expense.

    The next step is limited access to the net. That should be our next initiative.

    Comment by Peter — March 3, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

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