Saturday, September 4, 2010

Funny, how they won't take their own medicine.

I recently read a story that I've been kind of thinking about since. A man who worked for a teachers' union (UFT, specifically) decided that the union's non-teacher employees deserved the same benefits as the teachers they represented, and tried to get his coworkers unionized.

The UFT fired him.

It occurred to me that there was something wrong when the union doesn't want to give the same benefits to their employees that they fight for for the ones they represent.

After I thought about it for a while longer, I started to wonder: if the unions (the biggest business of them all) can't afford that kind of salary, benefits, and vacation package, can we, the taxpayers, afford that for all teachers?

I'm not saying that some teachers don't earn it. Many earn it many times over. Jaime Escalante is a very good example of "Whatever they're paying him, it isn't enough."

However, with dropout and fail rates increasing (though being hidden by schools' massaging of the numbers), literacy and numerical literacy rates falling to the point that some kids don't qualify for community college remedial math classes, and students (and employers) holding the opinion that people have to have a degree to be qualified to work, maybe we can't afford to keep giving our teachers so much.

We've proved over the past quarter of a century that throwing more money at the problem hasn't solved it. Teachers' unions stand firmly against merit pay bonuses, so maybe starting teachers and ineffective teachers need to be forced into pay and benefit cuts.

Effectively, yeah: that may be classified as merit pay. But it's really not that hard to determine which teachers deserve it. All we have to do is compare apples to apples: test all students in one school grade, with the same test, at the beginning and end of the year, throw out the highest and lowest scorers in each class, and compare the medians. Students know who the best teachers are; why can't administrations figure it out?


  1. Sometimes I think making schooling non-compulsory, and giving teachers the right to throw behavior problems out of class, might help the problem.

    Then again, I can see lots of really poorly educated folks who didn't go to school because they didn't have to, and who can't get a job, sucking the last remnants of money out of the taxpayers (i.e., the people who DID go to school and DID work hard.)

    I don't know but it hurts me to see how many kids come to college so poorly prepared.

  2. I have little use for unions....but:

    Many businesses have different types of employees (ie schools: teachers, clerical, janitorial, etc.) and there can be several unions within that business.

    Teachers should have the best contract (a contract, of course,
    that deals with tenure!) of all school employees.

  3. Ricki, I agree with you, and think I may have a solution to the welfare for the ignorant problem. Sitting in school should be non-compulsory; however, I think that any who don't pass certain levels-of-knowledge tests ought not get welfare.

    OCM: unions did, indeed, serve a valuable function as recently as fifty years ago; however, OSHA has taken over the function of regulating workplace safety. Everything else unions do does nothing but harm the nation, the workforce (by limiting employers' ability to afford/hire new workers), and our political processes.

    I agree that teachers should have better contracts than union employees. I also think that the union employees shouldn't have the jobs they have--unions have served their purpose, and should be abolished.


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