Monday, March 18, 2013

Teachers Unions and Politicians v. the Kids and Parents ... Serving The Best Interests of the Public?

Government is supposed to serve the interests of the public.

Unions are supposed to serve the interests of their members.

Unions align with politicians to get what they want --- political support in the form of keeping out competition for the jobs of their members.

In exchange for this political support, unions come to the financial aid of their political allies at election time.

It's a nice cozy relationship that EXCLUDES the best interests of the public at large, including the parents and students who attend public schools. It also EXCLUDES the best interests of the broader society in having a high quality educational system which produces informed citizens in a cost effective manner.

As an example of all of the above, let's consider the case of teachers unions, politicans, parents and students in New Jersey today.

Hang Tough, Gov. Christie has the story:

"Water is wet. The sky is blue. And New Jersey Gov. Chris is being criticized for not mincing his words.

At a town hall speech in Paterson on Tuesday, Mr. Christie referred to the "African-American female speaker of the Assembly" who is blocking a vote on a school voucher bill for low-income kids stuck in failing schools. The Republican governor's critics don't like the fact that he referenced the lawmaker's race and want him to apologize.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

"Democratic Speaker Sheila Oliver later said she was 'appalled' that Christie injected race into the discussion on education," reports the Associated Press. "Oliver, who represents a district with some failing schools, has said she believes the state should make a larger investment in public education." A larger investment?

New Jersey's per-pupil spending is the second-highest in the U.S. after New York and nearly 60% above the national average. And per-pupil spending in cities like Paterson is markedly higher than the state average. Yet according to a New Jersey Education Department report last year, "the state ranked 50th out of 51 states (including Washington, D.C.) in the achievement gap between high- and low-income students in eighth grade reading."

If anyone should apologize, maybe it's the sorry politicians who betray the black underclass by siding with teachers unions who oppose school choice. Poll after poll going back decades shows that low-income blacks overwhelmingly favor access to vouchers, charter schools and other education options. It's hard to find a charter school in a struggling inner city that doesn't have a lengthy wait list. A means-tested federal voucher program in Washington, D.C., has four applicants for every available slot. Naturally, President Obama and the teachers unions want to shut it down.

The demand for school choice among blacks couldn't be more obvious, and Mr. Christie was right to highlight the disconnect between the actions of too many black pols and the desires of their black constituents. Black voters deserve to know that evil white Republicans in Trenton are not the ones keeping ghetto kids trapped in the most violent schools with the highest drop-out rates and the worst teachers. Kudos to the governor."

Summing Up

This reminds me of the quote by legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, "THE OBSCURE WE SEE EVENTUALLY. THE COMPLETELY OBVIOUS, IT SEEMS, TAKES LONGER.

If we want to fix what's wrong with our schools, we have to stop practicing insanity by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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