The Assault on Teachers Unions

by

Although I can understand the relentless anti-union crusade being waged by free market fundamentalists who wish to: (1) weaken the American labor movement, and (2) do away with the public school system (because there are hundreds of millions of dollars to be made by “privatizing” education), I am stunned by the public’s willingness to accept what is, on its face, a monumentally stupid argument.

While no one ever hears of American colleges and universities being accused of producing consistently “bad” accountants or bad pharmacists or bad historians or bad computer programmers or bad anthropologists, apparently, those same colleges and universities have turned out a disproportionately high number of “bad” teachers.

Even though these idealistic men and women busted their humps earning their college degrees and teaching credentials (which, by law, are required to teach in a public school, but are not required by private schools), once they entered the classroom and began plying their trade, they turned out to be a bunch of incompetents and slackers.

Of course, the explanation given by the anti-labor, privatization propagandists is that these teachers came out of their colleges and universities in satisfactory shape, but turned “bad” as soon as they became union members, because the teachers’ union, as we all know, was put on earth to protect bad teachers. Yep, as a former union president myself, I can attest that there’s nothing we union honchos admire more than a shitty worker.

Here’s something to think about: Airline pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, firefighters, nurses, actors, writers, directors, coal miners, and that woman who plays oboe in the symphony orchestra are union members. They are good at their jobs. Being represented by a union didn’t turn them into bad workers.

Southwest Airlines is the most unionized carrier in the industry and, last time I checked, it was among the most profitable. If you want to accept the outrageous falsehood—the outright lie—that union members are bad workers, that’s your privilege, but unless you have a death wish, I suggest you stay off airplanes.

Here’s something else: Some of the best school districts in the country are heavily unionized. Something else: Demonstrating that the whole thing is mainly socio-economic, schools in stable areas perform better than schools in poor, distressed areas, and unions have nothing to do with it. And something else: Non-union teachers across the country get fired at about the same rate as union teachers. It’s true. Why don’t more non-union teachers get fired? Because they don’t deserve be fired.

Has anyone who did poorly in school ever blamed the teacher for their lack of success? Has anyone ever said, “Man, I would’ve been a kick-ass student if only my teachers had been capable of teaching me”? I’ve never heard one person say that. Instead, they either blame their parents for not having assisted or “pushed” them enough, or blame themselves for simply not having put in the necessary work.

Again, this whole assault on the teaching profession is a hoax. It’s designed to beat down the unions and convince people that “private education” is the way to go. And in order to win, they need to convince a critical mass of parents that the only reason their little Johnny or Judy isn’t performing like a budding genius is because of “bad” teachers. That people believe it is a shame.

David Macaray is a labor columnist and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor, 2nd Edition).  Dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Ellen Brown
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Binoy Kampmark
Inside Emailgate: Hillary’s Latest Problem
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy